Reframing Stress to Work for You
Is stress always toxic? Can stress be good for you?
Health psychologist Kelly McGonical argues that it's our perception of stress and ability to learn from it that makes all the difference. Goop recently interviewed Dr. McGonical about her new book, The Upside of Stress: Why Stress Is Good for You, and How to Get Good at It. She discusses our biological responses to stress, and how we can become more resilient by accepting and reframing stress as a response to something we care about.
I've certainly felt the rush of working towards a deadline and coming from behind in a volleyball match, but have also had sleepless nights worrying about an upcoming project. While some stress is harmful -- like clinical depression, poverty, or death of a loved one -- she emphasized that stress in the form of discomfort motivates us to improve our situation to remove the stress.
"But that desire for things to be different, that’s part of what motivates us to act, to connect, to grow, to learn." Kelly McGonical
To become better at living with stress, we should seek out opportunities for stress that we can control (good stress). She describes three ways to cultivate stress strengths:
If you thrive in stressful situations or love adrenalin, you'll already mastered the "Iron Man model of stress." Can you find enjoyment in stretching your limits and being pushed to perform? What's your interpretation of sweaty palms and a racing pulse?
The concept of creating social connection through stress is particularly intriguing. Are you able to thrive while helping others, nurturing relationships, or asking for support through stressful times? Where can you demonstrate compassion towards others?
Can you view stress through the lens of an opportunity to grow and learn? From a coaching perspective, shining a light on your strengths and creating meaning from situations is central to building your potential. A fave question to consider: if this stressful situation was tailor-made for your growth, what opportunity is available to you?
What opportunity do you see in stress?
I am definitely picking up this book! It's based on extensive evidence and really resonates with how I coach. My biggest aha moment from her interview was that I don't often ask for help when I'm stressed - I'd rather hide away and try to figure out how to 'solve the problem' all by myself. What comes to mind is asking myself, "what am I risking by not sharing with others?" To be continued...
Take a read of the interview and let me know what you think below!
What's your biggest takeaway?