Stress isn't evil, health psychologist Kelly McGonigal, PhD, emphasized on KQED's Forum on Friday. "Just a few years ago, that would have sounded like nonsense. But now, thanks in part to several appearances coinciding with the publication of her book, "The Upside of Stress," McGonigal is making in-roads on the "stress-as-boogeyman" narrative.
By embracing stress, accepting it as your body's natural response to events, people can live longer and even channel their stress into a productive form, she said.
"One way to think about stress is that it's energy and you get to decide what the right thing to do with that energy is," McGonigal said.
Just as top performers and athletes capture the momentum of stress to improve their performance, all of us can learn to relate to stress in a way that leaves us wiser and stronger, she explained.
Stress can also be a catalyst to strengthen relationships: "It's part of the brain's and body's motivation to help you connect with others and help you strengthen social bonds."
During rough patches, it can also be immensely helpful to maintain the perspective that life is teaching you a lesson that will leave you stronger, McGonigal told listeners.
Previously: Tend and befriend — helping you helps me, Resolution check-in with a Stanford psychologist, one week into the new year and Exploring the costs and deaths associated with workplace stress
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