Is stress bad or good for you? Well, it depends. It depends on your belief about it. Check out this cool TED talk that Kelly McGonigal did about the value of making stress your friend.
Kelly says she used to think of stress as the enemy. Yet the science shows that the biological response to stress is radically different based on our belief about it. Here we see mental training impacting our lives and the importance of continually working on our mental game. In other words, what we think is accurate can be totally incorrect.
Here are some points from the talk. Watch the video also to gain its full value. Kelly is a great presenter.
- When we believe stress is bad, our blood vessels contract.
- When we believe stress is good, they don’t contract. They stay relaxed.
- Don’t get rid of stress; get better at working with it.
- When you believe this way, your body helps you process the stress.
- One of the most underappreciated aspects of the stress response is that stress makes you social.
- Oxytocin, the “cuddle hormone,” finetunes your brain’s social instincts, to strengthen relationships. It’s as much a part of the stress response as adrenaline is.
- When life is difficult, your stress response wants you to be surrounded by people who care about you.
- Caring creates resilience.
- How you think and how you act can transform your experience of stress.
- When you see stress as helpful, you create the biology of courage.
- Stress gives us access to our hearts.
- When you choose to see stress this way, you’re not just getting better at stress, you’re actually making a profound statement. You’re saying you trust yourself to handle life’s challenges.
I really like this last point. Foundational to mental training is trusting how life unfolds. Changing your belief about stress helps you embrace it as opportunities to find joy and meaning in life.