Good news from a real-life Professor McGonigal, but this one lectures at Stanford about the positive effects of stress. In her book, The Upside of Stress, McGonigal argues that approaching stress as something positive that we can learn from can change the way it affects us physically and mentally. She says that the “three most protective beliefs about stress are”:
- to view your body’s stress response as helpful, not debilitating – for example, to view stress as energy you can use;
- to view yourself as able to handle, and even learn and grow from, the stress in your life; and
- to view stress as something that everyone deals with, and not something that proves how uniquely screwed up you or your life is. (Parker)
This helpful visualization differentiates between “good stress” and “bad stress”:
As you can see, the difference between good and bad stress isn’t in the nature of the stress itself, but in your response to it. And one way you can change our response to stress is to not be stressed out by it.
McGonigal acknowledges that chronic stress—in which you feel like you have no control over the situation, the stress has no purpose, and you are isolated and in your pain—can be detrimental to your health. And while stress at Davidson may seem chronic and you are not in complete control over all the demands on your time, you do have the power to organize your life, affirm your sense of purpose, connect with others, and embrace stress as a source of energy, courage, and learning.
- Parker, Clifton B. “Embracing Stress Is More Important than Reducing Stress, Stanford Psychologist Says.” Stanford University. N.p., 7 May 2015. Web. 10 Oct. 2015.
- “What me, worry?” Stanford Magazine. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Oct. 2015.
- “WATCH: My TED Talk ‘How to Make Stress Your Friend.’” Kelly McGonigal, PhD. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Oct. 2015.