I came across this very interesting article recently on www.heysignmund.com, a site I am growing increasingly fond of by the way. The article, titled "Rethinking Stress: How Changing Your Thinking Could Save Your Life," is a synthesis piece that pulls together some of the results of several recent scientific studies, including one that evaluated the impact of stress on 30,000 participants.
Ultimately, that study and the synthesis article conclude that if we re-frame how we feel about stress, it can actually help us instead of hurt us. In fact, that study found that not only were participants who experienced high stress and identified that stress as a bad thing were 43% more likely to die prematurely, but researchers also found that people that experienced high stress but identified it as not harmful had a lower risk of dying than those who didn't experience high stress at all! These are very interesting results that tie into research by Yerkes & Dawson from more than 100 years ago, which found that some stress actually improves our performance.
The article goes on to discuss how stress harms us and why an optimistic outlook on stress diminishes or eliminates that harm, but perhaps the most interesting piece for us anxious folk is the author's discussion of how to change our thinking about stress. She identifies two key things to think about: 1 - "Frame stress as a challenge rather than a threat" and 2 - "think of [stress] as something that's going to energize you and get your body ready to perform at its prime." Like I always tell me clients, there's nobody that will be more prepared for a zombie apocalypse than an anxious person.
Check out this great article to learn more about stress and how you can make it work for you.