opex, opex fitness, formerly opt, life coaching, coaching education, stress, coping mechanisms

In our CCP Life Coaching module we teach that the maximal potential for human growth occurs on the border of support and challenge.  But we live in a society conditioned to look for the quick fix and instant gratification to sustain the belief that everything should be happy all the time AND people have become addicted to support in an effort to attain nothing but pleasure.  It’s such a bull shit way to live.

Now one of our biggest health issues is stress.  And stress is perceptual.  AND it’s been labelled as bad because it doesn’t fit into the above societal condition, which stresses people out even more.

Oh no!  I have stress, so now I have to get rid of it or I’ll be unhealthy.  Better grab a quick fix.  Drugs, alcohol, sugar, meds!!!

“When the American Psychological Association started its annual stress survey in 2007, people perceived a moderate level of stress as ideal.  Now, survey participants perceive that same moderate level of stress as unhealthy.”

The bad news is that you will never get rid of stress.  Stress plays a vital role in the human condition.  The good news is that how you perceive stress plays a role in how it affects you.

Said another way… The way we think about stress is what affects our health.

Kelly McGonigal’s work in The Upside of Stress captures through science how our perception around stress physically affects us:

“The ratio of DHEA to cortisol is called the growth index of a stress response.  A higher growth index—meaning more DHEA—helps people thrive under stress.  It predicts academic persistence and resilience in college students, as well as higher GPAs.  During military survival training, a higher growth index is associated with greater focus, less dissociation, and superior problem-solving skills, as well as few post-traumatic stress symptoms afterward….

Crum wanted to see if changing people’s perceptions of stress could modify this measure of resilience.  Could a three-minute video about stress alter this key ratio of stress hormones?

The answer amazingly, is yes

The videos had no effect on cortisol levels.  Everyone’s cortisol went up during the mock interview, as expected.  However, participants who had watched the stress-is-enhancing video before the interview released more DHEA and had a higher growth index than participants who had watched the stress-is-debilitating video.  Viewing stress as enhancing made it so—not in some subjective, self-reported way, but in the ratio of stress hormones produced by the participants’ adrenal glands.  Viewing stress as helpful created a different biological reality.”

Stress builds resilience.  It’s like a muscle and you can build that muscle through your perception of both challenge and stress.

Sharon Prete
CCP Life Coaching Co-Conductor


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