In this TED talk, Kelly Mcgonigal makes an argument that stress is good for you. She cites three separate studies in which researchers discovered that people’s reactions to stress, determined how negative stress influenced their health. In short, the more positively they viewed stress the less likely they were to become negatively affected by stress.
Is this true? As a professional I believe our reactions to stress does influences how stress affects our health for better or for worse, however the extent that I would agree that stress is good for you, is that it serves as an alarm signal in your mind that your needs are not being met, which in turn signals for a change in scenery, habit or both.
However, in my practice when I encounter people who are suffering from stress induced mental health, their main issues aren’t with stress, their main issues are their difficulty in finding solutions to the problems they face. Stress by itself is a symptom of a bigger problem, that problem being an ongoing situation for which the person experiencing has not found a solution for. The stress people experience are only made worse by the idea that they should not be experiencing any problems, or that solutions to the problems they face should come easy for them and often times it’s a combination of both.
So if you are experiencing any level of stress, it means that you have a healthy mind, healthy enough to detect even on the most subtle of levels when things are not going your way, or more specifically when your needs are not being met. However what determines how well you respond to stress is dependent on your attitude towards life. If you strongly believe that life should be easy and that struggle is bad, then your reaction to stress is going to be poor and subsequently stress will negatively impact your life. However if you believe change in life is a constant and that some transitions are inevitably going to be more challenging that others, then you are more likely to have a positive reaction towards dealing with stress.
Ugo is a psychotherapist and owner of Road 2 Resolutions PLLC, a professional counseling and life coaching practice.