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Stress is... GOOD?

As someone who specializes in working with anxiety and trauma, I’d be one of the first to tell you about the negative impacts of chronic stress and traumatic stress on the body and mind. But there’s some interesting new research out there indicating that not all stress is as detrimental as we previously have believed. Our perception of stress—specifically, how harmful we believe stress is—may play a crucial role in determining how much of a toll everyday stress really exacts on each of us.

Stress is a part of everyday life. For those of us living in major metropolitan areas, traffic alone can stress you out before you’ve even made it to work to “begin” your day. Luckily, some new research is indicating that everyday stress, in and of itself, isn’t the culprit. It’s the belief that stress = bad that changes the way our bodies respond to stressors. So (luckily), health doesn’t depend on ridding our lives of stressors, but on learning how to respond to stress with resilience. And this begins with questioning the belief that all stress is automatically harmful to your health.

Health psychologist Dr. Kelly McGonigal gives a great TED Talk on this subject entitled “How To Make Stress Your Friend.” In it she talks about some of this new research. She also outlines some ways to change your perspective regarding stress and, by doing so, enhance your resilience to life stressors. The link to her talk is attached--I’d say it’s well worth the 15 minutes!

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