Is Stress Really Bad for You?
I’m sure you already know the answer to that question—it’s bad!
But hold on for a second—I’m about to tell you something new about stress—something that I’m pretty sure you’ve never heard before.
I recently got an email from a friend of mine who encouraged me to read the book, The Upside of Stress, by Kelly McGonigal, a health psychologist at Stanford University. In the email, my friend said, “I’d like to hear what you have to say about stress after you read this book!”
Obviously, my friend was very excited to learn about a new and different approach to stress, and I can see why…
In 2013, Ms. McGonigal gave a very interesting presentation in which she proposed the idea that stress may not be so bad for us after all. In her talk, Ms. McGonigal made a startling confession: “…something I’ve been teaching for the last 10 years is doing more harm than good, and it has to do with stress. For years I’ve been telling people, stress makes you sick…
But that was only true for the people who also believed that stress is harmful for your health.”
This new research on stress, which has been confirmed by many psychology experts, basically says this: Stress is bad for you only if you believe that it is.
What is so revolutionary about this new report?
It confirms the idea that the placebo effect works.
In other words, believing something to be true is more important than the fact that it is true!
Fact: There is no doubt that stress is harmful to one’s health.
Belief: Stress is not bad for me. It’s bad for me only if I believe that is bad.
Result: Stress is not bad for me because I do not believe that it is.
This revolutionary teaching confirms that people who experience a lot of stress but do not view it as harmful are not likely to suffer, or perhaps even to die, from its effects. Changing the way in which you think about stress may mean the difference between life and death.
How is this possible?
It’s simple: Whenever you change your mind about any of the feelings or emotions you experience, such as stress, anger, fear, or worry, you change your body’s response to that feeling or emotion. Healthy thoughts lead to a healthy response, and vice versa. Yes, you have more control over your health than you may think.
Of cause, accept everything in moderation and with a clear understanding of the working processes of the placebo effect, the mind–body connection, and neuropsychology (a science concerned with the integration of psychological observations on behavior and the mind with neurological observations on the brain and nervous system; Merriam-Webster.com). You need to gather a great deal of solid information before making any big decisions regarding your health. Do not “jump into” wrong conclusions and think, Oh, now I’m safe, or now I know what to do and how to do it. Be smart!
When you learn how to handle stressful situations and how to properly respond to them—when you see stress as not as harmful as it was once thought to be—your body’s reaction to it will be healthier, or less toxic. How you think about stress matters.
Make no mistake: Stress is still harmful to your health, but only if you do not know how to react to it. The meaning I want you to take from this information is the following: No one can promise you a stress-free life, but you can learn how to deal with stress more effectively.
So you see—the question posed in the title of this article is not so simple. The good news is that stress doesn’t necessarily have to be bad for you. It’s really up to you!