TED Conversations

This conversation is closed.

We have become such conscious beings that we now over complicate stress which used to be a simple subconscious survival mechanism.

We are not teaching our bodies to react with our mind, we are retraining ourselves to not over think our physical coping mechanisms to life.

Two things in Kelly's talk got me thinking about the roots of this:
1. Stress is the body's way of overcoming the stressor.
2. Human interaction is a natural desire that helps stress.
First off, why would we think of stress as bad when it's purpose is to help us? Kelley McGonigal has stated it and biology states it, stress is the body's way to react to a challenge. Who would want to compete with this natural reaction? By saying our mind has the power to create a positive affect from stress is to say that stress is a negative reaction. But as stated, it has been a positive response and we have to rediscover how to work with that response.
Regarding our desire for human interaction; it seems like a very animal like response. When we look at the response to stress in animals such as monkeys (that's very broad because I'm speculating) I have a feeling very few of them break down and start pulling their hair out. The natural response as Kelly mentioned is to seek help. In an animal pack that is exactly what will happen while in the human world social interaction has become so much more complex that reaching out for help could show signs of weakness and cause embarrassment.
So why do we compete with stress? I believe this is because humans have been trained out of it; we've brushed our natural response to stress aside as we've become more dominant as a race and as we've made more and more technological advances.


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • W T 100+

    • +1
    Sep 8 2013: I think that some people confuse stress with anxiety.
    What do you think?
    • Sep 8 2013: Yes Mary, I think you're correct.
      I've been taught (in therapy) that stress is the physiological reaction to anxiety, which is the result of negative thinking.
      • W T 100+

        • 0
        Sep 9 2013: Thank you Leigh for your reply.

        I find anxiety to be a bit normal........because a lot of things happen to us and to those around us, and of course we may very well worry in excess and end up suffering from stress.

        So then, from what I think, and what you have explained, if the culprit to stress, is excessive attention to anxieties of life, then can something be done?

        How can we reduce the feeling of being anxious?

        Any ideas?
        • Sep 9 2013: negative thinking is normal too...have you heard of the 3 principles?

          You can't force yourself not to be stressed just like you can't force your mind not to think negatively. They are both normal depending on what level of consciousness you are in.
        • Sep 9 2013: Hi Mary,

          I agree - anxiety is very normal. Everyone experiences it and it serves to protect us in certain situations as well.

          It becomes problematic when the level of anxiety is high enough to interrupt a person's daily functioning and/or manifests itself in dangerous/unhealthy behaviour.

          There are many reasons why anxiety can reach this level.

          During my hospital stays and then consequent group and individual therapy, I was/am taught about the theories behind anxiety as well as the theories behind the strategies that I was/am taught to use to try to reduce it.

          My problem right now is, that I've been given so much information over the years that I can't possibly tell you everything that I've learned.

          I can tell you that CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) is the main therapy I've been taught. Briefly, it looks at how our Automatic Negative Thoughts influence our emotions which also influence our behaviour. It's finding out where these ANT have come from that is the important part - we learned about "Irrational Beliefs" that we have built up over the years that drive a lot of our thinking without us realising it and also the "Cognitive Distortions" we employ when we think about situations which lead us to such high levels of anxiety.

          We also learned about how the brain "works" in relation to anxiety - we talked about the Amygdala and Brain Plasticity among other things - all very interesting. Group Therapy was like being back at Uni again - the theory part of the day was always my favourite!

          We learned so much more about each of the above concepts, as well as others.

          But I haven't really answered your question, Mary.

          Maybe give me some time and I'll try to summarise a few things for you :)
      • W T 100+

        • 0
        Sep 9 2013: Lee, what you have written is very interesting.

        I am 'somewhat' familiar with the information, but not with the precise technical terminology you have used.

        You know, we accumulate so much information throughout our years of life Lee, that it is sometimes impossible to share in a cohesive way with others every thing we have cataloged in our mind......I totally get what you are saying.

        The point that I truly find fascinating, and which I would like to read about more, is "how the brain works in relation to anxiety".......any links that you can provide, will be very much appreciated.

        Let me ask you this............don't you think that sometimes anxiety and stress are also related to depression? And to unsolved issues from a person's past? What can you tell me about this?

        Thank you for the exchange thus far Lee, I really appreciate it.
        • Sep 10 2013: Hi Mary,

          I also found the information that we learned about our brain and the way it functions fascinating - I didn't have any knowledge of it before I was hospitalised! (btw - our Private Psychiatric Hospitals are wonderful, but that's another story)

          I will certainly write more about it and provide some links for you when I return later today.

          For now - anxiety/stress and depression are most definitely related - comorbid depression and anxiety are very common. (Comorbid = exist together)

          For me, personally, if I do happen to decrease my level of anxiety about a particular subject, I sometimes then fall into a depressive state - can't win, hey! My doctor has told me this is because my anxiety actually masks my depression.

          Issues from the past - another definite! This actually ties in with the function of our brain.

          When I return I'll be happy to explain in more detail what I'm talking about.

          Leigh :)
        • Sep 10 2013: Hi Mary,

          I’ve attempted to explain some of what I was taught about the brain and its role in anxiety, below :)

          Our brains look for patterns. On the positive side, this is a survival technique. After encountering a dangerous situation (we) our brains remember to keep away from it if we encounter the same situation again. On the negative side though, this search for patterns can cause us to perceive relationships between completely unrelated events, which can cause anxiety. (For example: you don’t receive an invitation from a friend for her upcoming birthday and you immediately think this is because you forgot to help her out with something last week, so you link the events together and conclude that she must be mad at you. In reality, though, she hadn’t sent any of the invitations yet as something of urgency had come up for her.)

          Once negative patterns are formed in our brains, they are strengthened over time by any input (experiences) that confirm them. Neurones, synapses and neurotransmitters all play a part in this. They are physical structures which are formed as a result of our thoughts, emotions etc. These connections can be weakened, however, by forming new ones with positive experiences that invalidate these negative ones.

          continued . . .
        • Sep 10 2013: cont . . .

          Furthermore, we can become hyper-vigilant and try to protect ourselves from the anxiety caused by negative experiences, which in turn causes more anxiety. For example, people who have formed abandonment issues as a result of childhood experiences, might as adults continually look for signs of rejection from others and will often misinterpret the words, tone of voice, facial expressions and/or actions of others as being ones of rejection. As you can imagine, this makes all kinds of relationships extremely difficult for both the anxious person as well as the other person/people in the relationships. (Patients with such issues may even think their own therapists are trying to reject them.)

          Joseph Ledoux has developed theories about how the part of the brain called the Amygdala plays a significant role in the establishment of our fear responses. He talks about the "high road" and the "low road" in relation to our reactions to our experiences. Here’s a link to explain this in detail http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/fear1.htm

          Basically, people with anxiety disorders tend to take the "low road" - our brain continually evaluates experiences as potentially threatening, bypasses the pre-fontal cortex where reasoning occurs and then sets up the fight, flight or freeze response, which we experience as anxiety. Once again, people's life experiences apparently affect the working of the Amygdala. For example, if you are brought up in a situation where you are constantly or even inconsistently in a state of fear (in reference to rational fear responses to realistically frightening situations) your Amygdala gets such a work out, that it becomes your default setting, so that even as an adult, your Amygdala assumes that many situations you find or might find yourself in ("what if" ing) have a very good chance of being "dangerous" to the self and so it habitually becomes triggered, causing anxiety on a regular basis.

          I hope you find this interesting.

          Leigh :)
      • W T 100+

        • 0
        Sep 11 2013: "I hope you find this interesting"..........Oh boy.....did I ever, thank you.

        I found the example in your first section about the birthday party invitations to be very revealing.
        It is so incredible how oftentimes, if we are not careful, we can jump to wrong conclusions and end up undermining our relationships.

        Also interesting is the fact you bring up 'fear' in your information.

        I find that fear is very much connected with anxiety, as well as stress......and depression.

        Another interesting point, and one which I have often wondered about, is the relationship between anxiety and depression. So, in your case, if your anxiety level is low, you may fall into a depressive state? Hmm. And your doctor says that your anxiety masks your depression. Now that is very interesting. I have known individuals who are in a constant state of anxiety, and I have always suspected that down deep they may be suffering from depression. They put so much on their plate at one time.......it's almost like they have to stay very busy, or else they will be forced to think about something they desperately are trying to avoid. That is what I have perceived from the many years of knowing them.

        I will share this with you since you have been so open and honest with me.
        There is a verse in scripture which reads: "Do not be anxious over anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving let YOUR petitions be made known to God;  and the peace of God that excels all thought will guard YOUR hearts and YOUR mental powers by means of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7)

        Although many individuals do not share my same belief in the scriptures, I find that there are certain points which are mentioned in them, which have helped me personally. This aforementioned one is one such counsel. I find that praying, when I am stressed, helps me quite a bit.

        I thank you for your insights, and honesty, and for the link.
        I will read through it.
        Thanks so much!!

        Mary :)
        • Sep 11 2013: Hi Mary,

          Thank you so much for your kind reply.

          I'll address some of the points you've brought up above a little later on.

          Leigh :)

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.