When a job situation, taxing relationship or family pressures stress me out, the first thing I want to do is take a vacation.
Like most people, I’ve grown up believing stress can kill so I try to be conscious about how much stress I take on even though I relentlessly fail.
But when I saw nearly 17 million people had tuned in to watch Kelly McGonigal‘s TedTalk – How to Make Stress Your Friend, I knew there must be something worth hearing. As a health psychologist and lecturer at Stanford University, Kelly knows quite a bit about the subject of stress and also how it relates to self-compassion and mindfulness.
Having authored several books on the subject of stress, Kelly turns our understanding of stress upside-down.
Essentially, she says that stress isn’t bad if we don’t see it as a bad thing. That’s right. Not only is it about how we perceive stress, Kelly goes one step further and adds that stress can actually have a positive effect on our mental and physical health.
You’ll have to listen to what Kelly says about the subject for two reasons: WomanScape wants you to understand what Kelly means when she talks about preparing for stressful situations like the death of a loved one or difficult times; and, Kelly provides such a wonderful explanation about how we can train our bodies to meet these stressful situations.
If you’re like me you’re already feeling better about your stress. If we believe stress is a good thing and Kelly is right, the oxytocin – a neuro-hormone that primes you to want to have closer relationships to family and friends – will help me to be more resilient in life and fuel my courage to set bigger goals for myself.
As WomanScape kicks off our next month-long theme for July – escape to self – what better way to understand stress than to embrace it as a positive gift. Try making it a morning practice to tell yourself not to worry so much about the stressful things that matter most to you in life. What counts is a life focused on meaning and the healthy side-benefits of stress – improved mental and physical health.