This is week five of our seven week series where we are exploring some new research findings that health psychologist Kelly McGonigal delivered in a TED Talk last year. The results of her findings moved her from the position of believing that stress is your enemy, to a position that you can make stress your friend.

The US National Library of Medicine has produced a poster that says… STRESS IS A LOADED GUN, and if left untreated stress can kill you just as surely as a bullet.

Short-term stress causes the adrenal glands to release hormones that, essentially, call immune cells from where they “Rest in the Barracks”, in organs, such as the spleen and move them to the “Battle Stations”, such as the skin (the bodies largest organ) where they’ll be needed. The stress reaction activates the immune cells to increase their potency even before there’s a wound or infection.

Ground breaking work has been done in this field by Dr Firdaus Dhabhar. He is Associate Professor of Psychiatry, and a member of the Cancer Institute, Immunology Institute, and Neuroscience Program at Stanford University and specializes in studying the effects of stress on immunity and health.

Professor Dhabhar has found that we can easily harness the biology of short term stress during surgery and cancer therapy which in turn enhances healing in the body.

How do you create short term positive stress?

  • Shorts spurts of exercise
  • Virtual reality stressors (gaming)
  • Psycho-social stressor enhancement

Simple ways to support the body to spend lots of time in the Low Stress resting zone is to make sure you get good sleep, the best nutrition, exercise, fresh air, sun light and engage in calming activities such a yoga, meditation, fishing and other pleasurable pastimes.

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