We know it all too well. The sensation of Stress, giving us big knots in our stomachs and sweaty palms. The word alone brings us discomfort. Though we’ve all pretty much surrendered to the fact that these days stress is just part of life, sometimes when it hits us it’s enough to make us want to dissociate from our body, wishing we had a back door to sneak out of so we wouldn’t have to deal with it.
So what exactly IS stress? And when did it make its Grand Entrance into the life of modern women and men, affecting our health in such a negative way? For most of us, Stress has become a catch-all word we use for things that make us uncomfortable. We know the feeling of it, but let’s trace it back to its origin.
It all seems to stem back to research performed on rodents in the 1930’s, when the Hungarian scientist Selye realized that his experiments were making his rats worn-out and run-down. Regardless of what he injected them with, they got sick – simply because of their poor treatment, confinement and because they were repeatedly being stuck by needles. He started to refer to this as Stress and assumed that humans were wired the same way; in other words, he told us that things that make us fearful, uncertain or overwhelmed induce Stress.
After Selye was done with his rats, he dedicated the rest of his career to educate people on the harmful effects of stress. What this really did was to create a fear in us regarding stress. So you will find it ironic that many new studies are showing us that it is not the stress itself that has been making us sick. It’s the Fear of stress.
In spite of the irony, this news, I believe, is really good news, for with practice we are often better able to manage our emotions and beliefs than we are our circumstances. Let’s look at this again: Research has now shown us that it is believing that stress is harmful to our health that causes us to suffer negative health effects. In other words, having a stressful life will affect you negatively if you expect it to. With these new studies revolutionizing the way we view stress and its impact on us, we have a beautiful opportunity to change our expectations; our very relationship to stress.
In the next five articles I will provide you with new information that will help you embrace stress, make it an ally, and see that it can bring us great benefits. We are in a place where healing around the idea of Stress is at our fingertips. I hope you’ll join me!