Have you ever been told that stress is bad for you?
I have. In fact, I’ve told many people this very same thing. Sure… if it seems like stress is your constant companion, you could face some serious health issues! Our stress pals, cortisol and adrenaline, are helpful in the short run. But when they over-stay their welcome, it really does a number on us, physically and psychologically. It leaves us feeling depleted, run down, depressed, anxious.
When you feel this way, probably the last thing you want to do is get in touch with a friend and hang out (in person, online, whatever). Many people want to pull away and isolate when the stress is high. If that sounds like you, then I am here to tell you that you are selling yourself short.
All that cortisol and adrenaline from the stress response comes along with a really valuable ally: oxytocin. Maybe you’ve heard of it? It’s the love hormone or the cuddle hormone… but there’s more!
Oxytocin strengthens empathy. It draws us to build relationships and connect with people. The stress response prepares us to face a threat, AND it primes us to surround ourselves with people who can help. So when adrenaline hangs around longer than it needs to, pay close attention to your connections. March through the preoccupation of being stressed and then being stressed about being stressed. Don’t resign to the harmful side of chronic stress while forsaking its most valuable part – its push to connect with others!
I realize that’s easier said than done. If you find that it’s hard to connect, try connecting with a good therapist. Hopefully that connection will be a strong bridge to connecting with others.
When you use your stress response for all its worth, then stress is not the enemy. It is your advantage.