Court reporters live with stress. Whether one has just gotten out of court reporting school and is having to deal with their first deposition, first hearing, first interpreter, whatever first, or one is a seasoned court reporter dealing with fast talking attorneys examining an expert witness in a patent case, stress is a part of the court reporter’s life.
In a recent TedTalk, health psychologist Kelly McGonigal said, “Stress is not the enemy we believe it is. In fact, according to a recent study, stress is only a risk to your health if you think stress is a risk to your health.” In a study of 30,000 people, which took place over an eight-year period, researchers found that people who experienced a high amount of stress faced a 43 percent increased risk of death if they also believed stress is harmful to their health. She says, “Instead of viewing stress as a health hazard, learn to make stress your friend.” People who experienced the most stress, but did not believe it was harmful, had the lowest risk of dying. “Believing stress is bad for you was the 15th largest cause of death in the USA last year, killing more people than skin cancer, HIV, AIDS, and homicide.
“If you can change your mind about stress, you can change your body’s response to stress.”
According to the science, we have two opposing hormone responses to life. There are the fight or flight hormones, cortisol and adrenaline, which speed up your heart rate and create the hyper state which allows you to rapidly react your way out of danger; and there is the comfort and trust hormone, oxytocin, which has the exact opposite effects. When life is difficult, your stress response wants you to be around people that will help you or comfort you, and being around those kinds of people your body has the built-in mechanism to counter stress, creating oxytocin.
Tony DeAngelis describes the hormone oxytocin in his article, “The two faces of oxytocin,” in Science Watch, published by the American Psychological Association, saying, “Oxytocin is produced mainly in the hypothalamus, where it is either released into the blood via the pituitary gland, or to other parts of the brain and spinal cord.” Oxytocin is described as “the love or cuddle hormone” as it increases feelings of trust and emotional bonding.
McGonigal states, “When you choose to view your stress response as helpful, you create the biology of courage. And when you choose to connect with others under stress, you can create resilience.”
I know when I am really worried about a deadline or a future job that I know is going to be super difficult, and I reach out to one of my dear friends in the court reporting world, people I have met at our state associations meetings, NCRA and STAR conferences, people who have the same stresses and pressures, and I ask for help or comfort, and I get the oxytocin flowing, my exhausting adrenaline surge will shift to positive energy. I am really happy to have found Kelly McGonigal’s TedTalk because now I know that reaching out to my friends is not only fun and makes me happy, but it is going to counteract the stress hormones and keep my healthy.
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