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  • I have a confession to make. For years I have been telling people "Stress makes you sick."

  • But I have changed my mind about stress. I wanna change yours.

  • Let me start with the study that tracked 30,000 adults in the United States for 8 years.

  • And they started by asking people "How much stress have you experienced in the last year?"

  • They also asked "Do you believe that stress is harmful for your health?"

  • People who experienced a lot of stress in the previous year had a 43% increased risk of dying,

  • but that was only true for the people who also believed that stress is harmful for your health.

  • People who experienced a lot of stress, but did not view stress as harmful, they had the lowest risk of dying as anyone in the study.

  • 182,000 Americans died prematurely from the belief that stress is bad for you.

  • I want you all to pretend you are participants in a study-

  • you come into the laboratory, you have to give a 5 minute impromptu speech on your personal weaknesses

  • to a panel of expert evaluators sitting right in front of you,

  • now if you were actually in this study, you probably be a little stressed out - your heart might be pounding,

  • you might be breathing faster, normally we interpret these physical changes as anxiety,

  • but what if you viewed them instead, as signs that your body was preparing you to meet this challenge?

  • Now that is exactly what participants were told in a study conducted at Harvard University.

  • And participants who learned to view the stress response as helpful,

  • while they were less stressed out, less anxious, more confident, their physical stress response changed.

  • Now, in a typical stress response, your heart rate goes up, and your blood vessels constrict,

  • but in the study when participants viewed their stress response as helpful,

  • their blood vessels stayed relaxed, like this. Their heart was still pounding

  • but this is a much healthier cardiovascular profile- it's a lot like what happens in moments of courage.

  • We need to talk about a hormone - oxytocin.

  • Oxytocin makes you crave physical contact with your friends and family.

  • It enhances your empathy. Your pituitary gland pumps this stuff out as part of the stress response,

  • and one of its main roles in your body is to protect your cardiovascular system from the effects of stress.

  • Your heart has receptors for this hormone,

  • and oxytocin helps heart cells regenerate from any stress-induced damage.

  • I wanna finish by telling you about one more study. This study tracked about a 1000 adults in the United States,

  • and they started the study by asking "How much stress have you experienced in the last year?"

  • They also asked "How much time have you spent helping out friends?"

  • People who spent time caring for others, showed absolutely no stress related increase in dying, zero.

  • When you choose to view your stress response as helpful, you create the biology of courage.

  • And when you choose to connect with others under stress, you can create resilience.

  • Thank you.

I have a confession to make. For years I have been telling people "Stress makes you sick."

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B1 US stress stress response study response oxytocin experienced

Kelly McGonigal | How to make stress your friend (Condensed Talk)

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