Low Doses of Stress = High Levels of Strength
I don't know about you but these past six months have been some of the most stressful in my life - both mentally and physically. Granted, I am only 21, but I think we can all agree that regardless of age, everyone has been through it recently - some maybe more than others and my heart goes out to them.
Reading the title of this post you might think, wow she's a tad self-righteous thinking any of my stress - that she knows nothing about - can be positive...
Please hear me out.
Being able to find meaning and strength in suffering is one of the greatest skills we can acquire in life and I know a little thing that can help. (P.S I still haven't fully mastered it - but I hope to get closer with this post).
I am not writing with the naive thought that I'll ever be able to solve your feelings of stress - selfishly, I am trying to find meaning in mine.
And in doing so I hope I open your eyes to a little thing that can help you too.
This week I read, Becoming Bulletproof by Evy Poumpouras. She's a secret service agent. In the book, she outlines some of the vigorous training she went through to become an agent.
A lot of the training secret service agents go through (outlined in the book) is designed around a concept called the Hormetic Effect (originating from the word Hormesis).
Hormesis refers to the body’s strengthening response to the administration of low doses of stress.
In Evy's case, during secret service training, it meant being incrementally exposed to greater and greater amounts of stress with the expectation of being able to function highly and perform extreme cognitive actions - aka run and shoot and maneuver out of buildings and keep a protectee safe
Hormesis also explains how vaccines work — a low-dose virus is introduced into your body, and antibodies produced by the immune system fight it. It’s also how muscles grow back larger and stronger when your muscle fibers repair the microtears sustained from training.
I couldn't think of a concept more relevant right now!
Both in life: the world's NEED for a vaccine and getting through our respective stressful moments.
And in training: growing stronger.
But maybe more selfishly. For this blog: a validation to the importance of the little things.
Low doses of stress are little but they have a big impact on our life.
While we curse moments of stress like no tomorrow, we do so without acknowledging how much stronger we will be tomorrow, because of them. This is finding meaning in suffering.
Going back to the beginning of this post, I have been enduring stress for a good while now and I wanted to write this post to help me make sense of it.
Knowing what we know now about the Hormetic Effect, I have found peace in continuously having to endure small amounts of stress through this time. (However, I can't for a minute say I am experiencing stress that compares to those who have so much more on their plate in today's world - which is why we are talking about low doses.)
When it comes to low stress moments you can't control, find peace in the thought that you can regain some control through knowing that this stressful moment is making you stronger.
Think of all the small amounts of stress you have endured these last six months.
Then think of how much stronger you have become because of them.
This is the meaning you can find in the suffering you have endured.
The Hormetic Effect is a little thing that can have a not so little impact.