When you find out something that could transform the lives, and significantly reduce the deaths, of people you know, you want to tell the world and tell it quickly! And that is why I’m so passionate about getting this message out to people.

Is stress going to kill you or cure you? In this blog I talk about how stress could be the personal and business solution you have been looking for! No more litigation, no more stress-related sick leave, more profits, less turnover, happier customers, higher productivity. Yes, all these things can be yours.

One thing I love about being a psychologist is how active and alive the science is, how many new ideas are being explored and the vast amount of amazing new scientific research which is helping us to understand more and more about how we work.

This is so true for the research published 2012 on stress including that by Keller, Litzelman, Wisk et al, “Does the Perception that Stress Affects Health Matter? The Association with Health and Mortality” (2012) University of Wisconsin, School of Medicine and Public Health.

A long term piece of research carried out in the US found that if you experience high levels of stress, and you believe that this is bad for you then you have a 43% increased risk of dying. The important thing here is that these two work together, the high level of stress and the belief. Over the 9 years of the study 183,000 people died in the US from what the researchers see as these two working together. Stress levels and Belief that stress is dangerous.

Kelly McGonigal Stanford Psychologist has pointed out that this makes the belief in stress being as harmful as one of the major killers in the US. It rates as the number 15 risk of pre-mature death above HIV Aids, Skin Cancer and murder.

Just changing your perception of what is happening to you can save your life.

Throughout my work as a psychologist I have always explained the stress response as being part of a process of helpful responses; when you experience stress your heart pounds to get you energized and ready for action, your hands and legs may get shaky, that’s just loads of energy going to those parts in readiness, your breathing increases to oxygenate your body and your irises dilate so that you see more, notice more, you become sharper.

Now, however, I can take this even further, stress can be a healthy response. Not only does it make you perform better in short doses but, if you believe it to be a positive thing, then it is of no more danger to your health than anything else in life.

There is much more to this though, because more evidence has shown that when we think and act in the right way stress can be of positive benefit to us and even heal us. More on that in my next blog, so look out for it!

Comments (3)

  1. Pingback: Making Stress a Healthy Business and Personal Solution. | isynergizelife

  2. Reply

    Hi Maria. Does the research mean ‘stress’ or pressure? These words are often used interchangeably when they are in fact, different. I accept that belief in managing pressure is very important, but I have also seen examples of people who have been unaware of the effects of too much pressure who have ended up being psychologically I’ll and in no fit state to work. Their belief was that they could continue, whilst their body was indicating exhaustion and breakdown. Belief plays a huge part in health, but I don’t think we can generalise completely from this piece of research. Sara Rawstron

    • Reply

      Hi Sarah. Thank you so much for your comment which is very well made indeed.
      The research refers to the belief that stress is only harmful if you believe it to be. I agree that we cannot take the view that if everyone thinks that work pressure is ok then it is ok (dangerous!) One of the biggest problems in the public sector at the moment appears to be the expectations that jobs can be cut, and workload piled onto the remaining staff without consequence. We all know that the bottom line is, we cannot do more than we can do. My point here is related to the effects of stress on our bodies and how we can alter our response to these – we can feel very worried, notice the affects and then either think “this is doing me harm” or think “actually my body is well adapted to this situation”.
      Work pressure can be incredibly destructive, particularly if it is combined with a lack of support. These two combined create poor health. So we need to consider if the highly pressurised person is unsupported or failing to seek support that does exist. And if they are being supported then the employer must – by definition – be ensuring that they are not expecting more than the individual can achieve.
      In my view this relates to the individual’s perception of work pressure – if it feels too much it is too much – but support may alter that perception if it is really good quality support. I feel another blog coming on!! Thanks again.

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