Dealing with stress can be hard
Stress is bad news. Stress is very much like depression in that it can pile up on you and before you know it, you’re feeling lost and out of touch. Anything that poses a challenge or a threat to our well-being is a stress. Some stresses get you going and they are good for you – without any stress at all many say our lives would be boring and would probably feel pointless. However, when the stresses undermine both our mental and physical health they are bad. In this text we shall be focusing on stress that is bad for you.
Anything that poses a challenge or a threat to our well-being is a stress. Some stresses get you going and they are good for you – without any stress at all many say our lives would be boring and would probably feel pointless. However, when the stresses undermine both our mental and physical health they are bad. New research supports that the idea of stress is not just in our heads, stress is real and can have a direct impact on how we react emotionally.
Stress can increase fear and anxiety
Medical Xpress reports that new research from New York University found that even mild stress has an impact on our emotional response. Their findings, which appear in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, point to the limits of clinical techniques while also shedding new light on the barriers that must be overcome in addressing afflictions such as fear or anxiety.
The team of neuroscientists came to their findings after conducting the following studies:
On the first day, the researchers created a fear among the study’s participants using a commonly employed “fear conditioning” technique. After the fear conditioning procedure, the participants were taught cognitive strategies—akin to those prescribed by therapists and collectively titled cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)—in order to learn to diminish the fears brought on by the experiment.
On the next day, the participants were put into two groups: “the stress group” and “the control group.” In the stress group, participants’ hands were submerged in icy water for three minutes—a standard method for creating a mild stress response in psychological studies. In the control group, subjects’ hands were submerged in mildly warm water. To determine that the participants in the stress group were, in fact, stressed, the researchers gauged each participant’s levels of salivary cortisol, which the human body is known to produce in response to stress. Those in the stress group showed a significant increase in cortisol following the stress manipulation, whereas there was no change in the control group.
“Our results suggest that even mild stress, such as that encountered in daily life, may impair the ability to use cognitive techniques known to control fear and anxiety,” added Candace Raio, a doctoral student in NYU’s Department of Psychology and the study’s lead author. “However, with practice or after longer intervals of cognitive training, these strategies may become more habitual and less sensitive to the effects of stress.”
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