When I first saw the title of this video, I had to pause in puzzlement for a moment. It reads: “How to make stress your friend.” My friend? I was pretty sure that stress is rarely my friend. It’s more like that acquaintance who always grates on your nerves, right?
Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D. is a health psychologist on the faculty of Stanford University who writes and talks about a variety of issues related to the mind-body connection, including stress, health, and willpower. In this TED talk, she discusses some new, cutting edge research that suggests that stress may not always be a trigger for health problems in and of itself, despite it’s bad rap for causing heart disease and other health problems.
In fact, according to recent research findings, the way that we think about stress and our attitude toward the physical effects of stress is much more predictive of negative health outcomes than the actual stress itself. In fact, people with high stress levels who see stress as helpful and beneficial for meeting a challenge have the same rate of negative health outcomes as individuals with very low levels of stress overall.
During this time of year of setting goals and focusing on improving your health and wellness, I would encourage you to take a few moments to watch this very engaging and memorable talk. And, in the end, consider how just a small shift in thinking can have major impacts on your overall well-being. So the next time that you feel the stress piling up, remember that your body reacting to stress is a body that is primed and ready to meet whatever challenges await!
For more information on Kelly McGonigal, check out her website at http://kellymcgonigal.com/. She also writes a regular blog series on the Psychology Today website focused on the science of willpower. You can find her articles at http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-science-willpower.