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  • Writer's pictureDebbie

Stress: Villain or Hero?

I shared an image on my Facebook and Instagram pages this week which communicated a quote from a TED talk by Kelly McGonigal (see link below).

It said:

How you think about stress matters Relabel your stress response as helpful. Say to yourself “this is my body helping me rise to the challenge”

I thought I would share my experience today, in the hope that you can have more faith in the genius that is the body's stress response.

I have had a busy few days: this morning was a trip out to a local garden centre, where you can sit outside in the autumn sunshine and enjoy a delicious breakfast. It was a blissful couple of hours of rest and relaxation. When I left to return home, I was conscious of how settled and calm my nervous system was.

On the drive home I was enjoying the views and congratulating myself about the decision to take the scenic route, rather than the motorway. Driving through a village, something happened suddenly. Something odd in my peripheral vision.

Within a milli-second, my heart rate had quickened, and my foot was instantly hovering over the brake, ready to react to what my autonomic nervous system had judged to be potential danger. Within a second, my brain had recognised the oddity as simply a long ladder on the roof rack of an estate car, protruding out into the road as the owner of the car drew to a halt to make a turn. Within another second, my heart rate slowed, and I gave a little giggle as I shared with my companion the potential brush with death!

This whole experience took less than 2 seconds and yet is a wonderful example of how our bodies are always doing their very best to help us.

Had this happened even a year ago, I might have joked about how lucky I was. How, my missing a collision a result of the stars aligning, some higher power or some other random external force.

Now I know that my survival is a credit to my amazing body. My senses always scanning my environment for hints of danger, my reactions to keep me safe, already moving into position to do the necessary.

Stress responses absolutely are helpful and my body does a wonderful job in helping me rise to challenges. I am a hero!

In what ways can you recognise how your stress responses help you and keep you safe? Give yourself credit - you're a hero too!

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