No pressure, but… it’s time to change the way you think about short-term mental stress.
In nerve-wracking situations—before an exam or the start of a presentation, for example—your heart rate probably goes up; you might sweat and start to breath faster, physical changes that you might perceive negatively. In a TEDtalk that’s been viewed more than 16 million times, health psychologist Kelly McGonigal explores new research around the stress response. “What if you viewed them as signs that your body was energized, was preparing you to meet this challenge?” McGonigal asks, citing research that shows study participants who did so were less stressed out, less anxious, more confident. “When you view stress in this way, your body believes you and your stress becomes healthier.” The next time you note signs of nervous tension, remind yourself that it’s your body revving up to the challenge.
Kelly McGonigal, “How to Make Stress Your Friend,” TEDtalk, 2013.
Kelly McGonigal, “How to Transform Stress into Courage and Connection,” Greater Good Magazine, May 13, 2015.
Abiola Keller et al., “Does the Perception That Stress Affects Health Matter? The Association with Health and Mortality,” Health Psychology 31 (2012): 677–84.
Jeremy P. Jamieson et al., “Mind Over Matter: Reappraising Arousal Improves Cardiovascular and Cognitive Responses to Stress,” Journal of Experimental Psychology 141 (2012): 417–422.