Why stress can be healthy

It depends on how people handle it, says one expert

An increasing collection of research suggests stress may be a good thing—depending on individuals' responses to it, reports Shana Lebowitz for Business Insider.

Lebowitz quotes Stanford health psychologist Kelly McGonigal, who spoke at the 99U conference last week.

"All too often, in moments of stress we view that stress as a signal that we are inadequate or our lives are toxic," McGonigal said. "But how you think about stress plays a powerful role in how it affects your well-being."

Under her unique approach to stress management, McGonigal encourages people to stop resisting stress, which leads to increased levels of hormones such as cortisol and in turn negatively affects health. Instead she believes that embracing the feeling will lead to better physiological responses and individuals may possibly learn from the emotion as well, citing recent research.

Simply acknowledging the feeling of stress and saying, "Something I care about is at stake" can help nerves subside, McGonigal says.

Stress signals that individuals care deeply about something—whether that is a family member or a career path—and is "not a signal that there's something wrong with your life," she says (Lebowitz, Business Insider, 5/1).

The takeaway: Stress is not always mentally and physically harmful—and depending on how individuals handle it, it can even be a positive experience, Shana Lebowitz reports for Business Insider.


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