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The Mind Trick to Reducing the Effects of Stress

By Lauren Ford
Posted On May 24, 2016
The Mind Trick to Reducing the Effects of Stress

Think back to the days of pre-historic America when cavemen ran the earth with their scraggly hair, animal hide skirts, and their hunting spears in hand. The stress in their lives was due to finding food to survive and being chased by predators. Not to discredit the cavemen of the past, because I definitely think we could use a little more grit in our modern lives, but being chased by a tiger probably wasn’t an everyday occurrence. Meaning that most of these pre-historic days were spent immersed in nature, and benefiting from the balancing and stress-relieving powers of the great outdoors.

Fast forward to 2016 where we are stressed while we eat, breathe, and sleep. We are a society comprised of stress, whether it be from the constant deadlines, the 24-hour news cycle, or poor sleeping habits.


Over time, humans have adapted something called conserved transcriptional response to adversity (CTRA), a type of gene expression that’s associated with inflammation and low immunity. For example, if you were being chased by a predator, CTRA allowed for some helpful short-term benefits, such as increased healing, physical recovery, and the increased likelihood of survival.  However, in ancient times, humans weren’t chased by predators constantly. The chase would come to an end and allow the body to recuperate back to its normal state.

Whereas now, our mental and emotional stressors rarely turn off. In turn, our body thinks it’s constantly being chased by a tiger. As a result, CTRA’s long-term activation in our brain is contributing to chronic inflammation and increasing the risk of health problems.

So how can we fight this overload of stress? The answer is self-compassion.

A study was published in the Journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity that looked at the relationship between mental stress, our brains, and inflammation. The results found that in the group, the people with the highest measured levels of self-compassion – the ones who had acceptance of themselves – had the lowest IL-6 (inflammation) response to stress.

This means that acceptance and compassion toward ourselves can fight chronic inflammation from stress and in turn, help decrease the risk of health problems. Stress is unavoidable, but our relationship with ourselves determines whether we flood our body with inflammation or find a calming balance for our body to thrive.

Here are a few ways to boost self-compassion:

  • Mindful meditation
  • Yoga
  • Take a break from social media
  • Practice conscious breathing throughout the day
  • Remind yourself how awesome you are

Take a hint from the Jedi’s and train your mind to be loving and accepting towards yourself at all times!