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Is stress really bad for you?

I’m sure we have all heard that stress is bad for you. As a nurse, I have been warning people that chronic stress is bad for your health and can cause cardiovascular disease and cognitive deficits.

But what if we weren’t seeing the whole picture? What if the way we think about stress is what is affecting our health?

That’s the message in the TED talk by Kelly McGonigal, a health psychologist. According to her TED talk individuals who reported high levels of stress in the past year were more likely to die ONLY IF they also perceived stress as bad for you! That means that just changing the way you think about stress can save your life. Rather than view stress as a bad thing think about stress, think of it as a way of your body preparing you to rise to a challenge.

Dr. McGonigal also discussed research that shows the hormone oxytocin (known as the cuddle hormone) is released when we are stressed. This hormone causes us to seek out social support when we are stress and also helps repair the heart muscle from stress related injury. This means that reaching out to people you care about when you are stressed can help protect you against the negative effect of stress.

This TED talk really made me re-think how I think about stress. Check it out! It could change your mind too and save a life!