This book is about how to properly understand "stress" and how to relate to each other. Some of the content is different from conventional ideas, and some may be unacceptable. However, it is persuasive because it is supported by various scientific research and experimental data.
This book is divided into Part 1 and Part 2. Part 1 entitled "Reconsidering Stress" begins with the introduction of a study in which "mindset influences the body." After that, the types of reactions when stress is felt and the history of stress research will be introduced. Interestingly, the source of stress and the purpose of life often overlap. In fact, some studies show that people with more stress feel more fulfilled in their lives.
In the second part, titled "Turning Stress into Power," a mindset for stress management is discussed. When you feel strong stress, how you can use stress to improve performance, how to set goals to work to prevent burnout (burnout), how to overcome adversity, etc. The point is that it will be revealed along with experimental data, survey results, and concrete examples.
There are many "exercises" introduced in this book to make you more stress-resistant. You can practice it concretely, not "read it and finish". What's more, it is said that you can stress yourself for a lifetime by doing these exercises once. This will have to be tried.
Main points of this book
The presence or absence of strong stress alone does not affect the risk of death. However, if you are stressed and think that "stress is bad for your health," you will have an increased risk of death.
In addition to the well-known "fight/flight reaction", stress reactions include "challenge reaction" and "compassion/bond reaction".
Unlike what is generally believed, the more stress hormones are secreted, the better their performance. In addition, those who are aware of the effects of stress are more likely to use the effects of stress.
Stress itself is not harmful
The author, a health psychologist, has long described that "stress is harmful" in classes and research. However, after a certain research result, I began to revise my thinking. The results of that study were obtained in 1998 for 30,000 adults in the United States. First, participants were asked "whether they felt stressed" and "whether stress is harmful to their health". A follow-up survey eight years later confirmed who died among the participants. As a result, the risk of mortality was increased only among those who were under intense stress and who thought "stress was bad for their health."
Your health depends on how you perceive stress, not stress itself-this way of thinking was different from traditional thinking. On the other hand, the author, a health psychologist, recognized through other cases that the way of thinking about things is related to health and longevity. For example, "People who think positively about aging live longer than those who think negatively", "People who think they can trust others live longer than those who think they can't." I knew that.
Therefore, the author scrutinized the contents of scientific research and research over the past 30 years and reviewed the data. Finally, he revised his thinking about stress up to then and concluded that "accepting stress is the correct stress management".
Mindset affects physical response
Recent studies have revealed the fact that mindset affects long-term health, well-being and success.
We also found that the mindset can be changed by participating in a simple intervention experiment once. Here, I would like to introduce a mindset experiment on stress by psychologist Aria Krum. Participants had a mock interview after watching one of two types of video footage. Both videos quote actual research cases, but one talks about stressful points such as performance improvement due to stress, and the other talks about bad aspects such as stress impairs health. there were. Then, the stress reaction was confirmed by analyzing the saliva of the test subject.
Cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) are hormones that are secreted when stress is felt. Cortisol helps metabolism and suppresses biological functions such as digestion and reproduction, which are not so important when stress is applied. On the other hand, DHEA is a male hormone that helps the growth of the brain and has the function of enhancing healing power and immune function.
Both are important hormones, but a higher proportion of DHEA for long-term stress reduced various risks of stress. The ratio of DHEA to cortisol is called the "growth index" of the stress response, and the higher the growth index, the better the ability to cope with stress.
At the beginning of the mock interview, subjects in both groups had elevated cortisol levels. However, the subjects who watched the video "Stress has a positive effect" before the interview had higher DHEA secretion and higher "growth index" than those who watched the video "Stress is bad for health". It was By thinking that "stress is useful," the physiological state changed.
Most of the current stress research referenced has been done in laboratory animals rather than humans.
Walter B. Cannon, a physiologist at Harvard Medical School, reported in 1915 on the "fight/flight reaction." He conducted experiments on cats and dogs. According to Canon's observations, when an animal feels at risk, adrenaline is secreted, sympathetic nerve activity is increased, and the animal becomes able to act quickly. On the other hand, physical functions that are not important in an emergency, such as digestive function, decline.
This "fight-or-flight response" is present not only in cats and dogs, but also in all pulsating animal species, including humans. However, it is not an ideal solution to hit or run every time when we feel stress in our daily lives. This is called the "mismatch theory" of stress response. The "fight/flight reaction" may be useful for our ancient ancestors of the hunting era, but not for our modern times.
Types of stress reactions
It is currently believed that human stress reactions are other than "fight/flight reactions."
In the case of "fight/flight reaction," adrenaline is secreted, which generates a lot of energy, promotes behavior, and activates the brain. At this time, various kinds of brain chemical substances such as endorphin, adrenaline, testosterone, and dopamine are secreted.
On the other hand, when the risk is low even if there is stress, the brain and body change to another state called "challenge reaction". Your heart rate rises, your adrenaline spikes, and your mood-boosting brain chemicals surge. Up to this point, it is the same as the "fight/flight reaction". However, unlike the “fight/flight reaction”, concentration is increased but fear is not felt. In addition, the proportion of stress hormones secreted is also different, and the proportion of DHEA is particularly high. This reaction is highly effective in recovering from stress and learning.
When stress is felt, a substance called oxytocin is secreted in addition to adrenaline. When a large amount of oxytocin is secreted, the trust in the important person increases and the desire to use it increases. In addition, the fear reaction of the brain is slowed down, so that the body does not get stuck or escape from the difficulty. In addition, the secretion of oxytocin enhances the desire for social connection and the desire to protect important things, and gives courage to do so. Therefore, these reactions are called "compassion and bond reactions."
Stress and rewarding
Studies show that countries with higher stress levels have higher prosperity. According to this survey, people who are feeling a lot of stress but are not mentally depressed are most happy.
Another study reveals that the more stressed and experienced people are, the more meaningful their lives are. There are many sources of stress people have, but work, childcare, relationships, caregiving, and health issues rank high. These are stressful but often rewarding. In addition, one study found that those who said they had a rewarding life had a 30% lower mortality rate.
Based on these results, it is considered that when the source of stress and the purpose of life overlap, stress does not harm health but rather health.[Must read!] Use stress
Accept without avoiding stress
Many people think that when they feel stressed their performance decreases. However, it is scientifically known that the higher the secretion of stress hormones, the better the test results and the better work results.
Jeremy Jamison, a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester, conducted the following mindset intervention experiment on college students who are preparing for the graduate school adequacy test in order to verify the "effect of stress". The students collected saliva samples before and after the mock test to confirm stress substances. Before the test, half of the students read a message written about the effect of stress, saying, "There is a research result that the test result improves when stress is felt." The other half, on the other hand, did not get involved in these mindsets.
As a result, the intervention group scored higher in the test than the non-intervention control group. In addition, in the group who received the intervention, the higher the stress response, the higher the test score. Conversely, in the control group, there was no association between stress response and test scores. In other words, when I became aware of the "effect of stress", I was able to use the stress successfully.
Moreover, three months after the experiment, even when the students took the actual graduate school adequacy test, the difference in grades between the two groups was widening. From this, it can be said that if the mindset intervention succeeds, its effect will continue.
Have bigger goals than me
Jennifer Crocker, a psychologist at the University of Michigan, studied the differences between having a "goal for myself" and having a "goal greater than myself" in different cultures of the United States and Japan. As a result, I found that being connected to "a bigger goal than myself" is more mentally stable.
The effect of having a goal on emotions increases with time. Therefore, people who are pursuing "a goal for themselves" are likely to eventually become depressed. On the other hand, those who were aiming for "a bigger goal than themselves" were more satisfied with their lives.
In addition, Crocker conducted a simulated job interview that puts a lot of stress into the experiment in order to investigate the effect of having a "greater goal than oneself." A message was sent to some of the participants as a mindset intervention prior to the interview, saying, “Before interviewing, think about “a bigger goal than you” rather than proving your ability”. .. Participants who received the message then considered themselves "greater goals than themselves" and then went to the interview. The interview was recorded and judged by an external judge who had no prior knowledge.
In the end, the judges rated the interviewed participants more highly appreciated. Examining the stress hormone numbers, it was found that there was almost no "threat reaction" in the body of the participants who thought of "greater goals than themselves" before the interview. This means that the change of way of thinking also affected the stress response of the body.
Stress and growth thinking
"Growth thinking" means that "humans have the ability to grow" even when stress is high. What I would like to emphasize here is that even though there is something that can be gained from a painful experience, it does not come from a strong stress experience itself. The ability to transform the pain of adversity into something meaningful is important.
Mark D. Seeley, a psychologist at the State University of New York at Buffalo, explored the relationship between the number of trauma experiences participants had in the past and their health over the next four years to investigate the long-term effects of adversity. .. The result appeared as a U-shaped curve. In other words, those with the lowest health risks were those with a moderate number of adversities. On the other hand, those who experienced the least number of adversities and those who experienced the greatest amount of adversity tended to be in a state of depression and were less satisfied with their lives.
Further follow-up studies revealed that when new adversities were experienced, those who experienced more adversity in the past were less likely to be depressed than those who had less experience of adversity. The painful experience of the past helps me.
Recommendation of reading
When it comes to stress, more people will probably feel that it is better not to. However, reading this book shows that stress is not necessarily a bad thing. This is a book I would recommend to all who tend to be confused by the recent stress. It could literally change your life dramatically.