We have all heard about or thought that someone we know has died due to stress. But was it the actual stress or their belief that stress was bad for them that killed them?
A US study found, unsurprisingly, that there were more deaths in the group that classed themselves as highly stressed. So no news there. Fortunately the study also noted their beliefs about stress, and if they thought stress was bad or not, plus how stressed they felt they got.
To summarise, it’s not so much the stress we deal with but more how we perceive what stress will do to us. Incredible don’t you think?
In fact, the scientists researching these findings concluded that during the 8 years of the study, 182K people had died simply from the belief that stress is bad for them. According to Dr Kelly McGonigal, that equated to the 15th leading cause of death in the US that the study was conducted, was actually due to the Belief that stress was bad for you. Yes, that’s right... a BELIEF featured in the Top 20 leading causes of death!!!
Imagine what would have happened if they had been helped to think differently about stress and change the way that they thought and believed about things!!!!
As covered in my previous blog on Placebo Effect, the belief that stress is bad for you almost acts as a nocebo effect (opposite of the positive placebo effect) making the negative effects of stress more enhanced and damaging.
So what should we do knowing this?
Do we ignore thinking about how stressed we are and just carry on thinking “We’ll be fine”? Do we avoid personally evaluating whether the stress we are under is likely to negatively effect us in case we turn it into a belief? Do we invest in stress management techniques? Or what?
It’s important to remember that what we would like to tell ourselves that we think, doesn’t actually mean we believe it, so never ignore stress if you feel you are stressed, as prolonged, continual stress can be harmful to health especially as most people I suggest do believe that.
This is a very powerful study as shows the power of the mind body connection, and the importance of addressing our belief in factors associated to health, to aid in the optimum health of individuals, which is a big area of my work.
So what does this mean practically?
Well I would suggest that we should all prevent and address continual high stress levels, but it’s useful to understand that stress now and then is also fine for us, and can be motivating at times particularly if we are “Away from” personalities. However if you feel you find yourself in a situation or thought process that is stuck in a high stress mode then it may be useful to address this. You can get help to release whatever is holding you in this stressful place and in addition to the corresponding beliefs that need to be removed and replace them with new positive beliefs congruent to health.
If you would like a chat about how I can help you then please give me a call on 01252 706995, or firstname.lastname@example.org , as love to help you in whatever area of your life you would like to address.