Summary of The Upside of Stress

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According to conventional wisdom, stress is a killer – a Pandora’s box of threats to the mind and body. Stanford University psychologist Kelly McGonigal offers a rare contrarian look at stress based on new research that changed her mind about its impact. She disputes overblown warnings about stress’s toxicity and cites studies showing that pressure harms only those people who believe it harmful. By contrast, those who embrace stress and use it to fuel their efforts are happier, healthier and more productive. Stress stimulates physical and neurological changes that boost energy, confidence and empathy, all traits that McGonigal brings to her work. She engagingly describes dozens of paradigm-smashing studies, relates stories of how embracing stress transforms lives and offers practical advice on reworking your relationship with stress. getAbstract recommends her reassuring and useful take on one of life’s challenges to harried entrepreneurs, managers, performers, students, parents and emergency workers.

About the Author

Kelly McGonigal, PhD, the former editor in chief of the International Journal of Yoga Therapy, teaches at Stanford University. She also wrote The Willpower Instinct and Yoga for Pain Relief.



Negative and Positive Stress

Most health experts preach that stress is dangerous. Learn to manage your stress, they say, or invite such consequences as heart disease, depression and addiction. These experts say that managing stress means reducing it, either through relaxation techniques or by reorganizing your life to lessen the pressures affecting you.

Recent research undermines that conventional wisdom. One study surveyed 30,000 American adults on the stress in their lives and tracked the group’s mortality rates for eight years. The results were surprising. Those who led low-stress lives and those who led high-stress lives – but who didn’t think the stress was bad for them – had almost identical mortality rates. A third subgroup – highly stressed people who believed their stress was harmful – had a 43% higher risk of dying. Attitudes about stress appear to be more significant than the stress itself.

Three decades of research suggest that stress also offers rarely recognized benefits. These findings show stress can make you smarter, more confident and more empathetic. Stress can even improve your health. The best way to manage stress is not to fight it, but ...

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    R. T. 1 month ago
    One of those books that runs counter to conventional wisdom. A very interesting read – and seemingly based on hard science. I particularly liked the idea of developing a positive mindset towards stress. In short, it's well worth a read.
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    A. H. 1 year ago
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    G. J. 1 year ago
    Nice to manage stress
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    C. P. 3 years ago
    I liked the way of thinking to take use of the energy released by stress to my benefit and see stress as something positive. Thanks.
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    A. A. 3 years ago
    When the going gets tough, the tough get going! The study seems to suggest that the not-so-tough could possibly train their psyche to pick fight over flight responses to difficult circumstances.

    These self help studies/ books increasingly seem to inculcate pessimists' view of the environment (acceptance and tolerance) rather than encourage optimists' actions to fundamentally eliminate the stress causing stimuli.
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    M. M. 3 years ago
    What a great learning!!! It all about attitude and challenge yourself to change your mindset!!! Key learning: Deal with stress by embracing it! #StayOnTrack #getAbstract
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    C. V. 4 years ago
    I've been avoiding stress, and the author is right. When you avoid stress you become less and less effective at dealing stress. For some areas of life I am able to handle stress much better than another particular area
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    J. L. 5 years ago
    This is really inspiring! Great stuff!
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    S. D. 5 years ago
    This is awesome. So much truth to this and I think it is an important lesson for us all to either learn or to be reminded of.
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    J. N. 6 years ago
    Because I have been in management many years, I agree with the author that stress can be used as a positive enforcer to allow change and new ideas.