When you respond to a stressful situation, your pulse rate rises, your breathing intensifies and your skin sweats. What you may not realize is that these changes can be beneficial.
“Believing stress is bad for you [was] the 15th-largest cause of death in the United States last year, killing more people than skin cancer, HIV/AIDS and homicide.”
Your negative beliefs about stress directly correlates with the negative effects of stress.
“When you choose to view your stress response as helpful, you create the biology of courage. And when you choose to connect with others under stress, you can create resilience.”
Studies show that if you view stress as harmful, your blood vessels will constrict, which, over the long term, may lead to heart disease. On the other hand, if you view stress as beneficial preparation for a challenge, your blood vessels will remain relaxed.
“Chasing meaning is better for your health than trying to avoid discomfort…Go after what it is that creates meaning in your life and then trust yourself to handle the stress that follows.”
When you are stressed, your brain releases oxytocin, a hormone that reduces the negative physical effects of stress and make you to seek out comfort and support.
“The harmful effects of stress on your health are not inevitable.”
It is known that people who care for others in their families or communities are resilient to the negative symptoms of stress.
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Psychologist & Professor
Stanford University psychologist Kelly McGonigal is a leader in the growing field of “science-help.” Through books, articles, courses and workshops, McGonigal works to help us understand and implement the latest scientific findings in psychology, neuroscience and medicine.
Straddling the worlds of research and practice, McGonigal holds positions in both the Stanford Graduate School of Business and the School of Medicine. Her most recent book, The Willpower Instinct, explores the latest research on motivation, temptation and procrastination, as well as what it takes to transform habits, persevere at challenges and make a successful change.
She is now researching a new book about the "upside of stress," which will look at both why stress is good for us, and what makes us good at stress. In her words: "The old understanding of stress as a unhelpful relic of our animal instincts is being replaced by the understanding that stress actually makes us socially smart -- it's what allows us to be fully human."