The Upside of Stress
Book

The Upside of Stress

Why Stress Is Good for You, and How to Get Good at It

Avery, 2015 more...

Editorial Rating

9

Qualities

  • Innovative
  • Applicable

Recommendation

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.

Summary

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 ...

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.


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