Is Stress a Threat or a Challenge?
by Kathleen Lisson
- Trying to avoid stress is what causes negative effects of stress in the body
- Running is a way to 'get good at stress'
- When stressed, help others to increase Dopamine in the body
According to an article in Outside Magazine, trying to avoid stress and letting fear and anxiety take over are the aspects of stress that cause negative reactions in our body.
Author Bradley Stulberg states that "the more you push your physical limits, the more you improve your psychological ones." I have seen this in my running training. I become calmer and less reactionary when I run long distances.
Stulberg quotes health psychologist Kelly McGonigal as saying that, “The most toxic thing about stress is not stress in and of itself, but rather, stress avoidance and the subsequent angst and rumination of always trying to avoid stress.” This was a big a-ha for me. There is truth to the idea that one can 'worry themselves sick' over something, creating more stress for themselves by trying to avoid a stressful situation. When my husband traveled to Nepal last year, the two weeks before he left were more painful for me than when he was actually gone.
'Don't Worry' is easier said than done, but what if a sizable amount of the negative effects of stress in our lives is inflicted upon ourselves in the form of the worrying and the plotting and the stories we make up about stressful events in the future? A good piece of running advice I try to follow is to only run one mile at a time. Don't focus on trying to run mile 11 if you're only on mile three. Just run mile three.
Another way to lessen the negative aspects of stress? Helping others. McGonigal states that helping others elicits a dopamine secretion.
Read 'Endurance Sports Will Make You a Better, Calmer Person' here: http://www.outsideonline.com/fitness/bodywork/the-fit-list/Endurance-Athletes-are-Calmer-Than-You-Are.html