Befriending Stress

befriending stressA colleague recommended this fantastic TED talk by Kelly McGonigal on the cardiovascular and social benefits of befriending stress (and potentially other negative emotions) as opposed to fearing these types of feelings. Kelly offers a fascinating perspective on oxytocin as a stress hormone that serves as a mechanism for resilience, helping people connect with others in times of challenge.

Kelly cites a very large study that found that, indeed, high stress was associated with a higher risk of death…. but only for those people who believed that stress was bad for them.

A study done by researchers at Harvard found that if participants were taught that the stress response can be healthy, that it is preparing them for a challenge… those people had different physical responses to stress… although their heart was racing, and they were breathing more rapidly, they did not have an increase in blood pressure, which is the part of the stress response that is responsible for many of the bad effects of stress.

Check it out.

And have a healthier response to the inevitable stressful events in your life.

Make Stress Your Friend

  • Lynn Guerra

    Very good–enlighting

  • Catherine Kress

    I would not lable the stress I am experiencing right now as bad necessarily or that it is undesirable. Just unexpected and really the first time dealing with work and life stress together without a major crutch. Of course it’s not always black and white. Sometimes I do feel like it’s going to kill me, but logically I know it wont :).

    I got the most out of the video at the end when the host asked her about having a stressful job vs a non stressful job and she replied something like…

    “chasing meaning is better than avoiding discomfort,”…. {go after what creates meaning in your life and trust yourself to be able to handle the stress that follows.}

    It is different, I think, when stress is undesirable vs uncomfortable. Stress comes whether we like it or not at one time or another, or all the time. I tend to avoid stress because of the discomfort. However, this has caused me to miss out on many worthwhile pursuits.

    The last 5 minutes in this video has helped me see that I may be giving stress way too much power.