Studies have shown that believing that our stress response is harmful to our health can stress us enough to kill us prematurely. So rather than putting a negative spin on the word stress, how about a big old smile? As health psychologist Kelly McGonical points out, belief that stress is bad for you is the 15th leading cause of death in the US. People who experienced a lot of stress, but who didn't believe that stress is harmful had the lowest death rate in the study, lower even than the people with the lowest stress levels.
While some of us may worry about our stress response, it's not all a hardship for the body. In fact, part of our stress response is to release oxytocin, which causes us to reach out to others for support and inspires us to notice others' stress so that you can support others. Not only that, but oxytocin acts in the body to protect us from the effects of stress. It's anti-inflammatory and helps our blood vessels stay relaxed when under stress. Oxytocin also helps the heart repair itself. So your stress response strengthens your heart. We have biologically built-in ways to develop stress resilience when we reach out to others. So take heart.
You can find Kelly's talk here: