How we handle the stress that we experience can have a direct impact on our overall health and wellness.
A recent study illustrated how having self-compassion can help to reduce stress, and thereby reduce the inflammation in the body that is caused by excess stress. Researchers hope that these results help lead to the development of new methods of handling stress and increasing overall wellness.
Whether your stress is related to a busy schedule, pressure at your job, or marital, family or relationship problems, it has a significant impact on your health and needs to be addressed.
Stress leads to unhealthy patterns in the body, most significantly increased inflammation—much like what happens to the body in the wake of an illness or even an injury, though there is not always a visible problem. Left untreated, this inflammation can lead to many chronic health conditions, including heart disease, cancer and even Alzheimer’s disease.
People who demonstrate an attitude that reflects self compassion, or self forgiveness, showed lower levels of inflammation related to stress. Being able to understand your limitations, accept them and love yourself can result in you experiencing much fewer effects of any kind of stress you are faced with.
Self compassion and self forgiveness require that you avoid blaming yourself for problems that are not within your control, and that you are able to move on from difficult situations, rather than dwell for long periods on your problems.
This recent study, conducted at Brandeis University, examined 41 people. Using surveys, they collected data related to the participants’ level of self compassion. They were asked questions about their own opinions of themselves, and of their own personalities.
Following the survey, participants were asked to undergo a stress test for 2 consecutive days, and have their levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6) measured. IL-6 is a known inflammatory factor in the body associated with high stress levels. At the end of the first day, results showed that those who demonstrated higher levels of self compassion, as measure by the survey, had less IL-6 in their systems.
On Day 2 of the stress test, it was noted that those participants who indicated lower levels of self compassion had more IL-6 in their systems, which led researchers to consider that their stress levels were higher to begin with, and that participating in the study caused them stress.
One of the authors of the study, Nicholas Rohlder, explains, "The high responses of IL-6 on the first day and the higher baseline levels on the second day suggest that people with low self-compassion are especially vulnerable to the adverse effects of this kind of stress."
In conclusion, researchers are hoping that it becomes better understood how the buildup of even small stresses can have adverse health effects, and that helping people learn to use effective methods and strategies is important for their overall health. Fostering greater self compassion, self forgiveness and self understanding is important!
SOURCES: http://medicalxpress.com/news/2014-04-explore-relationship-self-compassion-health.html;http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tag/self-compassion; Image courtesy of photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net