The Surprising Upsides of Stress

For your Monday morning inspiration this week check out a TED talk by health psychologist Kelly McGonigal titled: The Surprising Upsides of Stress. It turns out that science is showing that stress isn’t all bad for our health. Stress helps us be resilient and has positives effects on the body and mind. Check out this interesting TED talk, it might surprise you.

Let me start with the study that made me rethink my whole approach to stress. This study tracked 30,000 adults in the United States for eight years, and they started by asking people, “How much stress have you experienced in the last year?” They also asked, “Do you believe that stress is harmful for your health?” And then they used public death records to find out who died.

But what if you viewed them instead as signs that your body was energized, was preparing you to meet this challenge? Now that is exactly what participants were told in a study conducted at Harvard University. Before they went through the social stress test, they were taught to rethink their stress response as helpful. That pounding heart is preparing you for action. If you’re breathing faster, it’s no problem. It’s getting more oxygen to your brain. And participants who learned to view the stress response as helpful for their performance, well, they were less stressed out, less anxious, more confident, but the most fascinating finding to me was how their physical stress response changed.