A colleague recommended this fantastic TED talk by Kelly McGonigal on the cardiovascular and social benefits of befriending stress (and potentially other negative emotions) as opposed to fearing these types of feelings. Kelly offers a fascinating perspective on oxytocin as a stress hormone that serves as a mechanism for resilience, helping people connect with others in times of challenge.
Kelly cites a very large study that found that, indeed, high stress was associated with a higher risk of death…. but only for those people who believed that stress was bad for them.
A study done by researchers at Harvard found that if participants were taught that the stress response can be healthy, that it is preparing them for a challenge… those people had different physical responses to stress… although their heart was racing, and they were breathing more rapidly, they did not have an increase in blood pressure, which is the part of the stress response that is responsible for many of the bad effects of stress.
Check it out.
And have a healthier response to the inevitable stressful events in your life.