Stress: Is it your best friend, worst enemy or just an acquaintance?

I was about to write a post on the good, bad and ugly sides of stress when I discovered that someone had already done so and covered most of what I intended to say. You can read it here. But I thought I'd like to give a brief rundown on how stress can be good for us, not so good for us and how it can impact our physical health.

When stress is good for us…

Yes. Stress is good for us. If it weren’t for stress, we wouldn’t have the warning bell that would tell us to run from danger, protect our families from threat or pull everything through to meet that work deadline. Stress is good for us, particularly if after the threat to our safety, we recover and return to a state of rest.

When stress is not so good for us…

For various reasons that are related to our individual biology, upbringing and life experiences there are times we don’t recover and return to a state of rest. While our mind and our bodies are doing what we feel is necessary to protect ourselves, unfortunately, without recovery, this constant stress can turn into what is known as chronic stress.

How it relates to physical health…

We generally know that chronic stress can lead to burn-out, depression, generalised anxiety and addictions. What a lot of us don’t realise though, is that this chronic stress can lead to and reduce our capacity for recovery from physical illness and disease. While healthy eating and exercise are very important for prevention and treatment of physical illness and disease - so too is our recovery from stress - and some argue that it is more important! There is now evidence that links stress with blood pressure, digestive conditions, stroke, cardiovascular disease and cancer treatment outcomes just to name a few.

Improving the recovery response…

While the stress response may come more naturally to us than the recovery or relaxation response, this can change. With time and practice we can learn to manage stress in a way that allows us to recover and to function as our best selves. Some people do this through spending time with other people, exercise, yoga, meditation, talking, listening to or making music or creativity. Others may need to explore the barriers to improving their response to stress by engaging in a therapeutic process.

What about your relationship to stress? Are you best friends or worst enemies with the stress in your life? Or are you acquaintances that know of each other but don't get too emotionally involved?

What are the things that you do or would like to try to promote the recovery or relaxation response?

Getting support...

If you need some immediate support please go here.

If you would like to explore how you or someone else you know can improve their relaxation response through music therapy, feel free to contact me to find out how we may work together.

Further reading...

Want to know more? I'm happy to refer you to further reading or scientific journal articles.

#stress #creativity #emotions #mentalhealth #mentalillness #physicalhealth

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