We all know stress, and this post will present a study that shows how we can regulate it. It will also give 8 quick advices on how you can manage stress better.
It’s from Psychology Today, written by Thea Singer!
A new study led by UC San Francisco’s Mendes shows one way to do this: by reappraising our own physiological responses. How we interpret a racing heart and quickened breath can determine whether we’ll experience good or bad stress.
Mendes and colleagues found that subjects who were prepped to interpret stress-related physiological responses as positive had increased cardiac efficiency and more blood-vessel dilation than those who were either prepped to ignore a stressor or not prepped at all. In other words, whether the subjects experienced challenge stress (warm hands, alert brain) or threat stress (cold hands, mind blank) depended on their appraisal of their own physical state.
“In both of those cases, you’re experiencing increased arousal,” Mendes says. “But there’s a fork in the road: You can shift to a more positive response to the stressor. You activate which way you’re going to go.”
So the next time you are beside yourself about a big presentation—or any onerous task—consider how Mendes’s subjects handled a speech delivered to two scowling evaluators. One group of subjects read articles about how physiological responses to stressors aid performance, another read articles about how ignoring stressors was most helpful (they were told to look away from the frowning evaluators), and the third didn’t read any articles beforehand.
The benefits of the first group’s reappraisal extended beyond their ability to wow an audience. Those prepped to interpret their racing hearts as positive adopted a glass-half-full frame of mind: In a test, they were less likely to latch onto negative words such as “failure” and “fear.”
Mendes calls her paper, appropriately, “Mind Over Matter,” and leads it off with a prescient quote from American psychologist and philosopher William James. “The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another,” James wrote.
Can you feel your blood pressure dropping already?
8 Steps to Stress-Proof Your Day
Reinterpret a negative experience : Say you leave your headphones in the car when you go to the gym. Interpret the return trip to the car not as an irritant but as a chance to warm up before you even climb on the treadmill.
Give to someone else : Doing something nice for others can make you happier and calmer, studies show.
Jot down attainable goals for the week and aim to achieve one every day. This is a great way to track what’s going right.
Build social support: Brain scans show that the same circuitry fires up when we feel emotional pain as when we feel physical pain. But that circuitry is slower to react in those with greater social support in their daily lives.
Notice at least one good thing you experience each day. Then make it “real” by telling someone about it or writing it down. The event can be as small as getting out of bed on time.
Meditate : Meditation can actually alter our brains, increasing gray matter in regions associated with emotion regulation and dampening activity in the fear-responsive amygdala.
Get enough sleep : Sleep deprivation is one of the greatest angst inducers—it causes stress hormones to soar and sparks other imbalances.
Exercise regularly: Exercise works as a mild or “good” stressor: One hundred and fifty minutes of moderate intensity exercise a week is linked with both reduced stress levels and increased growth of new brain cells.