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Your Stress Response: The “Tend-and-Befriend” Response

Connecting to the tend-and-befriend responseIn the past couple blog posts, I have talked about recent studies that have shown that stress isn’t always dangerous to our health and well-being. If you haven’t read the past 2 posts, I suggest reading them before continuing to read this one.

In today’s post, I want to talk more about the “tend-and-befriend response” to stress and how it is beneficial.

This particular response is part of our evolution and how we banded together with our tribe to survive danger. Part of the response is about protecting children from threat, so this response is often seen more in women but it is also something that can be demonstrated by men too.

This particular response helps to decrease fear and increase hope. It activates activity in areas of the brain to make you smart, brave, and social.

Through the activation of oxytocin, we have more empathy, connection, and trust and fear in the amygdala becomes dampened so we can be courageous. Through the activation of dopamine, we become more motivated, optimistic and fear is also dampened. Through the activation of serotonin, our perception is enhanced, our intuition is heightened, we have more self-control, and our awareness is enhanced to help us make smarter decisions.

So how can you activate this particular response when you are feeling stressed?

You can reach out and help others, give someone support or take time to listen to them. Practicing random acts of kindness or donating to those in need are great ways to activate this response!

Another way to tap into this response is to focus on goals that are bigger than yourself when you are feeling stressed. For example, in a job interview, instead of focusing on your individual goals for wanting this job, think of how this job will let you help your community, what kind of change you’d like to create through this position,

Again, to learn more about this other stress response, I highly recommend reading Dr. Kelly McGonigal’s book “The Upside of Stress.”

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Lyn DelT

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