I’m not sure if you’ve ever heard of TED and the TED Conference, but I’m slightly obsessed with the talks that come out of this thing. While everyone was watching the VMAs this year, I was sitting on my iPad giving my husband the rundown on the current TEDTalk I had on. Yup, total nerd.
The TED slogan is “ideas worth spreading” and let me tell you, that doesn’t even do most of these talks justice. Covering everything from business to how the mind works, speakers provide inspiration and knowledge jam packed into a 20 minute-ish presentation. Some are even shorter. All are absolutely amazing. So, as I take the time to watch more and more of them, I’ll post the link to them here with a short summary and key points in case you don’t have time to watch the whole thing. Hopefully they will inspire you as much as they have inspired me.
Name of person giving the talk: Kelly McGonigal
Title of the talk: How to Make Stress Your Friend
Summary of the talk: Kelly McGonigal, a health psychologist, discusses how believing that stress is harmful impacts your health. Research studies have shown that your perception of stress is what is most important. Those who believe their stress is harmful are more likely to die early due to stress related issues. However, those that believe it doesn’t negatively influence their health are no more likely to die early on than anyone else. This means that when you change your view about stress, you can change your body’s reaction to stress.
She continues on to discuss a study that asked participants to to change their views about stress from being anxiety inducing to energizing. For example, the body’s reactions to a stressful situation such as a pounding heart and sweaty palms were looked upon as giving them courage and helping them through the situation. This tiny little change in perception meant that instead of the body having negative responses such as constricting your blood vessels, your blood vessels stayed the same. Participants were also more confident and less anxious when they viewed stress as helpful.
Her final portion of the talk discusses how stress makes you social. When you are stressed, the hormone Oxytocin is released. This hormone is known as the cuddle hormone because it’s also released whenever you hug someone, but it’s actually related to stressful situations as well. Oxytocin motivates you to seek support when you are feeling overwhelmed. It also helps your heart when it is reacting negatively to a situation. In essence, Oxytocin helps you become more resilient in stressful situations.
In the end, her talk relays a very convincing point of view based on science that how you think and act during times of stress can actually transform this anxiety into courage and resilience. Those who look at stressful situations as helpful and energizing are less likely to die regardless of the type of stressful events they go through. So, to stay healthy and happy, all you need to do is transform your view of stress from a negative to a positive.
Favorite quote: Chasing meaning is better for your health than trying to avoid discomfort.
What I learned: This talk blew me away. I’m always up for a positive spin to a negative situation so I love the idea that stress can be seen as a helpful. The science doesn’t hurt either. I am someone who has the ability to see stress in a positive way, but I also have people very close to me who have extremely bad physical reactions to stress that are definitely impacting their health. The research behind a simple change in perspective means that your health can change for the better with little to no work if this is your problem. I challenge all of you to try to take this new point of view at least one time this week. See how it makes you feel. If this talk is right, your worst enemy might become your new best friend!
Now it’s your turn! What do you think about the idea that changing your perspective on stress can actually influence your health? Have you tried it? What was the outcome?