Re-thinking Stress

One of my favorite Sunday afternoon activities is to pick out and watch a TED (“Ideas Worth Spreading”) video on a topic that I know little about. As you likely know, most of the TED videos are 15 minutes or less and the speakers are usually accomplished at their particular craft. I had a chance recently to view a video titled “How to Make Stress Your Friend”. The presenter was a Health Psychologist from Stanford University, Kelly McGonigal.

As McGonigal points out early in the video, stress is directly linked to many of the leading causes of death in the U.S. The interesting part, however, comes from the research following 30,000 adults over an eight-year timeframe. The study revealed that your beliefs about stress were of critical importance. That is, if you believed that stress was all bad, then it was. If you believed, however, that stress had an “upside”, then this too proved true.

Professor McGonigal says she has changed her beliefs and now teaches her students that stress is a preparation for action and a potentially positive part of life. She says that previously she worked to eradicate stress since she thought it was wholly negative. Among the positive aspects of stress is the release of the neurohormone Oxytocin. Apparently this hormone is something of a primer for us to be social. It helps prepare us for interactions with others.

Changing your mind about stress can change your physical response to stress. Financial life concerns are a leading source of stress for many individuals. That’s where we can help. Ready for a real conversation?

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