The Upside of Stress
Written by Carol Petersen, RPh, CNP - Women's International Pharmacy
Stress is bad, right? It damages our body, causes depression, shortens our lives-the list goes on and on. We say things like "All this stress is giving me an ulcer!" or "This stress is killing me!" Your practitioner, if unable to pinpoint the source of your malady, may advise that you reduce your stress level. We have whole industries designed to decrease stress in our lives: yoga classes, meditation courses, massage therapy, breathing exercises, and exercise and life style coaching.
Dr. Kelly McGonigal urges us to rethink the idea that "stress is bad" in her book "The Upside of Stress, Why Stress is Good for You and How to Get Good at It." Dr. McGonigal is a health psychologist who teaches at Stanford's School of Medicine Health Improvement Center and the Stanford Center for Compassion and Altruism.
A Little History
Dr. Hans Selye, an endocrinologist, found that introducing any sort of unpleasant experience produced a loss of muscle tone, ulcers, immune breakdown and ultimately death in his lab rats. Having already seen human patients who experienced similar breakdowns in their health, he drew from his observations and his rat experiments to define stress as any demand made on the body. Further, he felt that just about anything that happened to someone in life (good or bad) was toxic.