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 well-being.

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 Stress perception ↔ Health benefits

“Embracing stress is more important than reducing stress 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.

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.

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Change your thoughts. Change your stress response.

Believe that stress is good for you (eg., stress focuses attention) and you live longer. 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”.

How to make stress your friend.

In the video below, Dr. McGonigal illustrates the upside of stress, including help seeking behaviour and increased energy. 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: What's your stress threshold?

Peace lives here.

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Peace happens in moments.

Not days.

Not weeks.

Not years.

Hot coffee.

Cozy blankets.

Birds singing.

The sun rising.

Peace happens in moments.

Not days.

Not weeks.

Not years.

Savour the sunshine.

Taste every morsel.

Dance with abandon.

Stroll by the moonlight.

Peace happens in moments.

Not days.

Not weeks.

Not years.

Breathe deeply into this moment.

Peace lives here.

Always looking up.

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I look up every chance I get. First thing in the morning. On my run. On my way to work. In between classes. Out for a bike ride. From the skylight in my office. On the front porch before I go to sleep.

Connected to Something Bigger

The sky connects us to something much bigger than ourselves. Challenges seem small in comparison to the vastness of the sky. Solutions seem plausible. Answers come more easily.

The stars heighten our awareness, expand our field of possibilities, and relax our mind. In their presence, we embrace the profound and surrender the pettiness. When we look up, we become fully present. In the moment. Completely mindful. Nowhere else to be but one with the sky above.

Peace of Mind

The celestial bodies provide a sense of comfort, peace of mind, and well-being. No matter what happens, the sun will rise, the stars will shine, and the moon will glow.

Blazing sunsets, radiant full moons, and shimmering constellations are all reassuring reminders that we are in this life together. We are united. We share the same magnificent celestial view.  No matter what happens, we share equal access to the divine, all-powerful universe. We are one. We are never alone.

From Me to We

Recent research at the University of California confirms that a “me to we” transformation takes place when exposed to nature. The study found that inducing a sense of awe (e.g., star gazing; looking at the ocean) in participants shifted their focus from personal needs (small self) to greater concern for society at large (altruistic behaviour).

“Inducing a sense of awe in people can promote altruistic, helpful and positive social behavior, according to research. Awe is that sense of wonder we feel in the presence of something vast that transcends our understanding of the world. People commonly experience awe in nature, but also in response to religion, art and even music. When experiencing awe, you may not, egocentrically speaking, feel like you’re at the centre of the world anymore. By diminishing the emphasis on the individual self, awe may encourage people to forgo strict self-interest to improve the welfare of others.” Source: Science Daily

“The sun, the moon, and the stars are there to guide us.” Dennis Banks

I am starstruck every time I look up. I am in awe. The sun, the moon, and the stars are the true celebrities in our universe. Always shining. Always inspiring. Always showing us the way.

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What lights your way?

What will you focus on today?

Choice is a powerful tool when it comes to stress perception. What we give attention to grows.

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Which is why we must make the conscious decision to talk about our blessings more than our challenges. Our strengths more than our stressors. Our excitement more than our fears. Our possibilities more than our problems.

Every day is a new day filled with abundant opportunities.

But we have to see them to know them.

Choice is yours.

Related Post: Set a time limit on negativity.

We were made to thrive.

Unless someone is going through a major life tragedy, I rarely, if ever, lean in and listen to someone’s day-to-day hassles.

Instead, I choose to give energy to their strengths not their struggles. To their light not their shadows. To their purpose not their pain.

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Because I know deep down in my heart that each challenge makes us stronger, each failure makes us wiser, and each daily stressor reminds us that we are alive!

Related Post: I believe in you.

The Paradox of Strength.

Some lessons happen over a lifetime. Others happen in an instant.

Either way, the paradox of strength is that it develops though pain.

Each misfortune cultivates a renewed appreciation.

Each obstacle fosters a new level of perseverance.

Each sadness teaches a greater depth of compassion.

Each challenge harvests a new field of possibilities.

We must fall down to rise up.

Again and again and again.

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Related Post: I've never met a strong person with an easy past.