One of my favorite TEDtalks was given by Kelly McGonigal in 2013 about the positive effects of stress. Everything I’ve ever heard about stress up until that point focused on how detrimental it was to your health. In your body, can cause headaches, fatigue, and chest pain. It can effect your mood by causing anxiety, depression, and irritability. It can even lead to undesirable behavior like overeating, abuse of drugs & alcohol, and angry outbursts.
With all of that in the con column, how could there possibly be any benefits to stress? Well, the answer was surprising and it changed the way I view many of the anxiety-inducing events in my life.
It turns out that believing that stress is good for you confers some positive physiological effects in your body. While your heart may still beat rapidly, the blood vessels don’t constrict as much, making it easier on your body. Additionally, stress promotes feelings of empathy and the need to socially interact with family and friends. This, in turn, increases your cardiovascular health by releasing protective hormones. It’s really fascinating stuff.
McGonigal explains it much better than I can, so take a few minutes to watch the TEDtalk.
Now, whenever I feel those tell-tale signs of anxiety and stress, I try to take deep, calming breaths and appreciate how well my body works.