The Upside of Stress Book Summary - The Upside of Stress Book explained in key points
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The Upside of Stress summary

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

4.4 (243 ratings)
16 mins

Brief summary

"The Upside of Stress" by Kelly McGonigal challenges the idea that all stress is bad for us. Instead, it suggests that stress can be used as a positive tool to enhance our resilience and achieve our goals.

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    The Upside of Stress
    Summary of 7 key ideas

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    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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    Key ideas in The Upside of Stress

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    What is The Upside of Stress about?

    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.

    The Upside of Stress Review

    The Upside of Stress (2015) allows readers to rethink their relationship with stress, transforming it into a positive force for growth and resilience. Here's what makes this book worth reading:

    • With scientific research, personal stories, and practical tools, the book offers a fresh perspective on stress, helping readers embrace its benefits and use it to their advantage.
    • It provides insights into the mind-body connection and how stress can enhance performance, improve relationships, and promote personal growth.
    • The book challenges the conventional notion that stress is always harmful, offering a new and empowering mindset that allows readers to navigate life's challenges with confidence and resilience.

    Best quote from The Upside of Stress

    Be able to see both sides of stress but choose to see the upside.

    —Kelly McGonigal
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    Who should read The Upside of Stress?

    • 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

    About the Author

    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 FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Upside of Stress?

    Embrace stress as a catalyst for growth and learn how it can enhance resilience and performance.

    How long does it take to read The Upside of Stress?

    The estimated reading time for The Upside of Stress is several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is The Upside of Stress a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The book The Upside of Stress is worth reading because it offers a fresh perspective on stress and provides practical strategies to leverage its benefits.

    Who is the author of The Upside of Stress?

    The author of The Upside of Stress is Kelly McGonigal.

    What to read after The Upside of Stress?

    If you're wondering what to read next after The Upside of Stress, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • The Stress Code by Richard Sutton
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    • Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers by Robert M. Sapolsky
    • The Hour Between Dog and Wolf by John Coates
    • Overworked and Overwhelmed by Scott Eblin
    • The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor
    • My Age of Anxiety by Scott Stossel
    • My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor
    • 101 Questions to Ask Before You Get Engaged by H. Norman Wright