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October 8, 2017: Making Friends with Stress

Last night I watched a Ted Talk on the subject of stress. Kate McGonigal was the speaker. It was recommended by Kathy Sierra, who is one of the founders of Project Proprius.

A good topic, I was motivated to watch it out of curiosity. I mean, like most people, I have always seen stress as harmful. McGonigal suggested the opposite, that instead stress can be beneficial. She also made the assertion that those who embrace stress live longer.

Her scientific reasoning is that the brain when stressed secretes oxytocin, the feel good hormone. And in secreting this hormone, it encourages us to reach out to others. And in reaching out to others and admitting we are stressed, we rise to the occasion.

Kathy Sierra (in a post following the talk) noted that there is a relationship to what Mc Gonigal is getting at and horses. If, for example, say we are encouraging horses to act autonomously in taking on a task their stress level will rise. But in essence they are learning how to deal with stress on their own terms. So, say Tyra is attempting to figure out the Panther Walk. She’s creating new neural pathways. But at the same time, she’s starting to make associative connections, which will enable to take on other supposed stress-related challenges such as the agility tunnel – a tarp that spans two jump poles and stands. Tyra has never had any qualms about entering this tunnel – but if she had, her autonomous training would no longer give her any reason to pause.

Another related example: Listened to another talk, this one on making autonomously-related choices. Research subjects who were given a choice of different color golf balls subsequently had higher scores than those who did not. This (I think) in part that they had to deal with the stress that came in making the decision of which balls to choose.

So I put two balls out for Hrimmi to play with. She threw one, then the other, around, and then kicked one of the balls. She made several decisions, and in the process she acted autonomously. This simple act made her, as it made Tyra, a more confident and badass horse.

And then there is me and my stress-related insights. Just thinking that stress is my friend (in less than 24 hours) has made me rise to the occasion. I had to put together a PowerPoint presentation for Friday, one called Making the Human/Horse Mind/Body/Spirit Connection. I was majorly stressed about this because I know a little bit about a lot on this subject. I made an outline and then asked Pete to give me an assist with putting the images to the text. My stress level dropped in interacting with Pete, perhaps because my oxytocin levels went up. Take home message here – I realized I was stressed and how I needed to deal. I sent out those light beams.

Now tomorrow I have a dentist appointment. My sense of dread about such things is always off the charts. It’s like I fixate on such things. So how do I rise to the occasion? Well, make sure that I continue to floss so that the cleaning is not as painful as it might be. Also see the related stress as a good thing, which is one that will ultimately be empowering. I feel good about the fact that I am tending to my physical needs.

I can think of other challenges that are coming up. A mantra, stress is good, might help in that this might further instill belief instead of skepticism.

Next: 279. 10/9/17: Stress is My Friend

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