We talk a lot about stress. How stressed we are, how stress is such a problem, how if life were less stressful things would be better…stress is major player in our lives.
Often when clients are trying to create a nutrition or exercise plan that is intended to make them healthier, they often feel very stressed by the process. Ironic right? You are trying to do something to make life better, but it only causes more difficulty.
What if stress was not a bad thing? What if stress was not harmful to our health? What if we embraced it rather than trying to fight it? I am loving (slightly obsessed, actually) this TED talk by Kelly McGonigal. She highlights different research that suggests that when you “make stress your friend” you can live a long, healthy life.
One study found, “people who experienced a lot of stress but did not view stress as harmful, were no more likely to die. In fact, they had the lowest risk of dying of anyone in the study, including people who had relatively little stress.”
McGonigal states that the science suggests “when you change your mind about stress, you can change your body’s response to stress. What is found is that those who are the most stressed did not die earlier, it is the ones who do not acknowledge that they are stressed that drop sooner.”
It is really stressful to put on a happy face and keep saying “I am fine” “Everything is great” “All is going well” – can you relate?!? I know I can. I used to think that if I just didn’t pay attention to the stress and focused on the positive it would help, but the truth is it made it all worse. There is that irony again. The more honest I was and just admitted, “I am really stressed!!!” the less stressed I was. It feels pretty fantastic!
Think about how this applies to food and exercise….you are stressed about your weight, health, nutrition and exercise and do not know what to do about it. You feel like you are spinning and do not know how to get a grip on it. You keep telling yourself (and others) that “ it is going to be okay” and “starting Monday you will get control on your diet” and “once this really busy time at work ends you will start working out again” but the truth is IT NEVER HAPPENS.
Another study McGonigal highlights in her talk is about the benefits of a stress hormone called oxytocin. A study she discusses found that “this stress hormone strengthens your heart, and the cool thing is that all of these physical benefits of oxytocin are enhanced by social contact and social support, so when you reach out to others under stress, either to seek support or to help someone else, you release more of this hormone, your stress response becomes healthier, and you actually recover faster from stress.
What if you just admitted, “this sucks” or “this is really difficult and I need help” - can you ask for help? Can you start slow? One small step to get you in the right direction? It makes all the difference.
We are all stressed these days. We live in a stressful world. Whether you live in the country or city, rich or broke, happy or sad, healthy or sick….there are a lot of stressful things going on and it is easy to get sucked in.
I do not think any of the stress is going away…so lets just accept it as is, embrace it and use it to our benefit. Ask for your help in your journey. Continue moving forward to take of ourselves, eat right and be well.
Need some support embracing the stress in your life? Email me and lets chat.