The upside of stress.

Most people wince every time they hear the word “stress”.

It’s as if the whole world has been conditioned to respond to stress the same way, by the word alone. A habitual thought response that is often more dangerous than the stressor itself.


Mindset is everything.

Which is one of many reasons why I love Kelly McGonigal’s TED Talk. It encourages us to think about stress in a whole new way.

Change your thoughts. Change your response.

Using health psychology research, Dr. McGonigal reveals how perceiving stress as either positive or negative can have this “live or die” impact on your stress response.

Stress can be good (or bad) for you.

Believe that stress is good for you and you live (longer). Alternatively, believe that stress is bad for you and you die (sooner).

Powerful words. Solid research to back her statements up.

Hope you enjoy the video!

Stress. It makes your heart pound, your breathing quicken and your forehead sweat.  But while stress has been made into a public health enemy, new research suggests that stress may only be bad for you if you believe that to be the case. Psychologist Kelly McGonigal urges us to see stress as a positive.” Source: TED Talks


Rethinking Stress – Helpful Resources

  1. How to Turn Stress into an Asset by Amy Gallow
  2. Cognitive Reframing and Stress Management by Liz Scott
  3. Six Ways to Do Cognitive Restructuring by Dr. Alice Boyes
  4. Reducing Stress by Changing Your Thinking by Mind Tools
  5. Change Your Thoughts – Change Your Life by Dr. Wayne Dyer
  6. The Upside of Stress: Why Stress Is Good by Kelly McGonigal
Related Post: What's your stress threshold?

21 thoughts on “The upside of stress.

Add yours

  1. Just watched this video. The study is pretty incredible and the idea that stress motivates us to connect with other people is also interesting. It’s a complicated issue, and some types of stress, such as anxiety disorders or depression, really don’t motivate you to be social and aren’t a healthy stress response. But I think for more “everyday” stress this is a great idea.

    1. Excellent point Jenna! I agree. It’s so important to differentiate between daily hassles / stressors and acute stress caused by mental health issues. I show this video in my psychology class for nursing students during the health psychology lecture. It opens their minds to the fact that exam stress is not all bad. Especially when viewed as a stepping stone to their dream job of helping others. Oxytoxin is a beautiful thing. 😊

      1. The context of test anxiety is a great one for changing our perspective on stress. I have friends in the sciences who talk about test anxiety, and I think it’s easy to interpret the body’s pounding heart and sweat as panic, rather than the body preparing to meet the challenge. Stress does get more complicated with mental health issues. You’ve inspired me to explore this further and maybe even write a blog post about it.

  2. Love this post, the strategies I use are definitely driving to a new environment away from negativity and stress, yoga or meditating for 10 minutes.

    1. Wonderful strategies Aleeya! I love how you have more than one way of transforming stress. Driving is a great one! So simple. A quick, healthy escape from what’s overwhelming. 🎶 🚗 🎶

      1. So true (: it gives you a fresh mindset and allows you to be able to actually give a certain situation some thought.

  3. I remember watching this video just a little while ago and it really affected me. I love it because I think it can help people who want to achieve something great in their lives (however we each determine greatness) and we don’t have to be too worried about pushing ourselves or making certain sacrifices to achieve our goals. Thanks for the reminder! Will have to check out some of these resources too :))

    1. How wonderful! Not only are you on the road to becoming a Physical Therapist, you are on the road to becoming an AMAZING PT. For what matters most when working with patients, is encouraging them to view their disability as an opportunity for growth and re-building. Something you do every time you write.

  4. Sometimes the hardest thing for me to do is to choose a different thought. I make up stories. Someone could say one word to me, and my mind makes up a whole story why they said it. I’m gonna continue this journey of changing my thoughts.This was very helpful!

    1. Thank you for sharing your own personal experience Demby. Something that is definitely a universal experience. The stories we make up in our heads are so ridiculous, yet we do it time and time again. One strategy that works wonders for me is HUMMING or SINGING whenever a “repetitive, critical thought” catches me in its’ web. Something that would work for you too! Especially since you love to sing. Try it! And let me know how it goes.

  5. My wife and I each react differently to stress. She obsesses over things and actively tries to out-think the problem causing her stress while I make a decision as to whether the stress comes from something I can do anything about, or if it’s out of my power to affect change. If it’s out of my power, I do everything I can to put it out of my mind. I try to not allow myself to be affected by things that I can’t change. Those that I can do something about, I allow myself to only think of solutions. Sounds easier than it is, of course, and I’m in no means perfect at it, but at least it’s what I try to do. I don’t always succeed, but even in trying, I find myself less stressed.

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