The unexpected benefits 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 word alone. A habitual thought response that is often more dangerous than the stressor itself.

What you believe matters.

The latest research in psychology examines stress in an entirely new way.

Rather than viewing stress as unequivocally bad for one’s health, health psychologists pinpoint belief systems as the moderating variable between stress and biology.

Stress perception ↔ Health benefits

Embracing meaning is more important than reducing discomfort according to Stanford psychologist Kelly McGonigal. Stress can make us stronger, smarter and happier — if we learn how to open our minds to it.” Source: Stanford News

Which is one of many reasons why I love Dr. McGonigal’s TED Talk. She encourages us to think about stress in a whole new empowering way. With an emphasis on growth, purpose, and meaning over needless suffering.

Mindset is everything.

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

Change your thoughts. Change your stress response.

  1. Believe that stress is good for you (eg., stress heightens awareness) and you live longer.
  2. Alternatively, believe that stress is bad for you (eg., stress causes heart attacks) and you die sooner.

But don’t take my word for it.

You need to experience your own “Aha Moment” firsthand.

How to make stress your friend.

In the video below, Dr. McGonigal illustrates the many upsides of stress, including help seeking behaviour, increased energy, and robust health. She also backs up her stress positive claims with census records and comprehensive health research.

Hope you enjoy these fresh, new ideas about stress as much as I do!

“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

Helpful resources for adopting a resilience mindset:

  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: Stress resilience at school.

44 thoughts on “The unexpected benefits of stress.

Add yours

  1. Nice post – I definitely believe in the “good” stress. The problem we have in the U.S. is we tend to have too much of the worst kind, which is so bad for overall health. As a career public service worker, we get subjected to the absolute worst kind – instantaneous Flight or Fight response repeated over time along with angry people, complaints, low pay, long hours. Healthcare workers, Police, Fire service, Physicians – all in that category. Those are the folks that need to have more efforts on stress response and how to redirect it.

    Thanks for all your great posts – very helpful and informative.

    1. I appreciate your candour Jai. Especially since I am a professor in the BScN nursing program. Reality is what it is. Our power exists in the space between stress and response. The more informed we are — the better prepared we will be.

      1. YES! I worked as a Flight Attendant for 8 years. Preparation for possible emergencies is the key to response time. It is the main reason why flight attendants can evacuate planes within 90 seconds – the power exist between the stressor and response! Or as our instructors advised “control what is within your control “ Of course, the first thing we could control is our mind.

  2. Thanks for sharing this! It’s interesting that something many of us believe to be our mortal enemy can actually be our ally; that’s one reason I love TED Talks, they do talk about a lot of interesting topics. 😀

    1. “Something many of us believe to be our mortal enemy can actually be our ally.” Excellent summary Nicole! And the perfect introduction to this TED Talk. Thank you for talking the time to watch it & share your thoughts. You rock! 🙌

  3. I love this.. and so important for people to know how stress doesn’t have to be the enemy! I saw a Lisa Rankin video on this similar to the one you’ve posted which was a real game changer for me. To discover that how we interpret stress is key. I love the final quote you have shared. So true!! thank you!

  4. Great video! I’ve also found that even out of the moments in life where I’ve felt incredibly stressed, these have been the times where I’ve definitely grown and learned the most. I used to fear stress but a couple of years ago, that shifted for me. I realised that feeling stress was actually a good thing because it was going to lead me on a new exciting journey. Yes perception is key! x

  5. This post regarding how we see stress is life changing for me. By watching this video you posted the lightbulb moment came when I realized I have been doing exactly what the speaker is talking about for years! Thank you so much for posting this because it has confirmed more about what I am doing that I can possibly describe to you. Bless you from the bottom of my Heart! WOW! 💖

  6. Hey Dr. Dinardo!
    Just yesterday youTube wanted me to see that “how to make stress your friend” video. I’m really all about learning how to make the best out of a “bad” situation, like stress because I believe humans are able to go far beyond what we can imagine. I’m super honored you enjoyed my article, I hope we can have some interesting exchange of ideas and concepts 🙂
    You’re really inspiring, I’m currently watching your TED talk! Keep your great work up!

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