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It Turns Out That Stress doesn’t Have to Stress You Out Says This TED Talk

Stress. No one likes that word.

It connotes a fast beating heart, a feeling of panic, and a loss of direction. I’ve always heard that stress is bad for you and certainly believed it to be true. You know what that means? It means I’m going to die earlier according to this video!

That’s not the whole story of course. While stress can be bad for you, the real news is that Psychologist Kelly McGonigal (Harry Potter jokes welcome, especially because her TED talk was in Scotland) says it doesn’t have to be. Your body doesn’t have to have an adverse reaction, in fact stress can even have positive effects – it can make you be a better, more caring person. The game changer?

How you think about the concept of “stress” can literally manipulate your body’s reaction. Pretty cool.

While I’ve always heard stress is bad, I’ve always heard that it’s good to be a little nervous before big moments – an interview, a speech, a big decision etc. I’ve always believed that to be true. I suppose the concepts are fairly similar. If we can make nervousness into something good, why can’t we embrace stress too? Of course she doesn’t go into the more intricate details of the study like control factors and whether they took into account things like socioeconomic status, family health history etc. While it would have been nice to know, the general message is a well-intentioned one. I especially liked the real life application of this theory they discuss at the end. Kelly says:

“Chasing meaning is better for your health than trying to avoid discomfort and so I would say that’s really the best way to make decisions. Go after what creates meaning in your life and then trust yourself to handle the stress that follows.”

That’s nice to know. Follow your dreams guys! That mantra has officially been confirmed by a scientist!

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