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The Upside of Stress

Why stress is good for you and how to get good at it

By Kelly McGonigal
13-minute read
Audio available
The Upside of Stress: Why stress is good for you and how to get good at it by Kelly McGonigal

The Upside of Stress explores the power our attitudes have when it comes to dealing with stress. These blinks explain the inner workings of our biological and psychological responses to stress, and open up new perspectives on how stress can help us grow.

  • Students and employees seeking deeper insights into managing stress
  • Individuals interested in seeing how their experiences of adversity in the past affect them today
  • People curious about scientific research on stress

Kelly McGonigal is a psychologist at Stanford University and a leader in the field of “science help,” which applies research in psychology, neuroscience and medicine to situations in everyday life. She is the author of international bestseller The Willpower Instinct.

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The Upside of Stress

Why stress is good for you and how to get good at it

By Kelly McGonigal
  • Read in 13 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 8 key ideas
The Upside of Stress: Why stress is good for you and how to get good at it by Kelly McGonigal
Synopsis

The Upside of Stress explores the power our attitudes have when it comes to dealing with stress. These blinks explain the inner workings of our biological and psychological responses to stress, and open up new perspectives on how stress can help us grow.

Key idea 1 of 8

Stress is harmful when you believe it is.

We’ve all heard a million times that stress is bad for us and that it’s the cause of most illnesses. So why should we all of a sudden embrace it?

Think about what stress really is: a reaction that occurs when something you care about is at stake. This could be your frustration over a traffic jam or your grief over the loss of a loved one.

In one 2006 US study, researchers discovered that high levels of stress increased the risk of death by as much as 43 percent. But this was only in people who believed stress was harmful. Those who reported high stress levels but didn’t believe it was harmful had the lowest risk of death of all participants, leading to the conclusion that stress is harmful – when you believe it is.

One study at Yale University showed that people who looked positively upon old age lived 7.6 years longer. That’s a lot more than the extra four years you earn by exercising and not smoking!

Positivity is a form of belief so powerful that it can influence your body’s health. Such beliefs can be considered mindsets: superior to preferences or learned facts. Usually based on your own understanding of how the world works, mindsets affect how you think, act and feel.

Your attitude toward stress is a central part of your mindset which shapes the choices you make in everyday life. If you view stress as harmful, you tend to try and avoid it at all costs. People who view stress as helpful, on the other hand, are more likely to come up with strategies to cope with the source of stress, seek help and make the best of the situation.

Are you a person who faces stress head-on? Chances are you’ll feel more confident about handling life’s challenges. In this way, the belief that stress is helpful becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. But what if stress makes you want to head for the hills? No need to fret! The following blinks will help you shift your mindset.

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