Recently, I found something helpful – really helpful. I landed on some work by Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D., a health psychologist who is re-engineering the way we should think about stress. She does a beautiful job translating neuroscience research into practical tips for health. And since right now is a perfect time to practice stress management, I wanted to share two interesting ideas.

If you rethink the way you see stress, it can change your health.

We’ve taught for decades that stress makes you sick. Newer neuroscience research is finding that your mindset matters. Stress only makes you sick IF you believe it’s bad for you. In fact, if you see stress as something that helps you prepare for challenges ahead, it actually creates health. If we change the way we think about stress, we can actually change our body’s response to it.

Stress creates a natural need for connection with other humans

This point is super cool and taught me something new about oxytocin. You may know oxytocin as the “cuddle” hormone; it’s released when we nurse our baby or when we are wrapped in a warm hug. 

What I didn’t realize is that oxytocin is also a stress hormone (as much as adrenaline is), and it offers natural anti-inflammatory effects – therefore it’s healing. Its release prompts us to seek support from others. When we connect with others, we get even more oxytocin, and that helps us heal faster. Through another study, she showed how caring for others creates resilience to the  health conditions typically related to stress. 

Dr. McGonigal sums it up best in two sentences:

“When you choose to view your stress response as helpful, you create the biology of courage. When you choose to connect with others under stress, you can create resilience.”

The world is stressful right now for all of us, but especially for young people who have brains with a heightened sensitivity to fear and worry. It can help us all to know that we have some control over how we allow the stress to affect us. As your child’s biggest health influencer, you can help them reframe their mindset around stress (while working on it yourself). 

  • How is stress preparing us for something ahead? 
  • How are we connecting with others to help us de-stress? 
  • Can we explore ways to care for others? 

These are simple and proven steps that can help you to help your children grow resilience. Have you seen these things work in your own life? Sharing our stories of overcoming hardships and stress also help us connect with each other and grow through it  – together.

Did you know Girlology has grade-by-grade playlists outlining on-demand video and downloadable content to support her and you through the entire journey? Learn More