How to Make Stress Your Friend

How to Make Stress Your Friend

Last week – speaking at the Clinton Foundation Women’s Health Day – was stressful. I drove the poor HOTY crazy with my all-consuming stress. He said to me, “We’ve got to do something about this stress.  It’s too much!”  Poor Guy….

Now the Silver Lining was that I ended up having a great time and met some amazing people. Phew.

But this whole stress-business really got me thinking.  Lo and behold, a good friend sent me this TED talk by Kelly McGonial on “How to Make Stress Your Friend”!  What incredible timing.

She is a health psychologist with a mission to make people happier and healthier. She confesses that something that she has been teaching the last 10 years is doing more harm than good. You see, for years she has told people that stress makes you sick. She turned stress into the enemy. However, she describes new research suggests that stress may only be bad for you if you believe that to be the case. HUH. How ’bout that?

So she asked, “Can changing the way you think about stress make you healthier?” YES is the answer.  She goes on to say, “When you change your mind about stress you can change your body’s reaction to stress.” I’m so loving this…

So, her goal has changed from eliminating stress to making people “better at stress.” She now urges people to see stress as a positive. In fact, reveals a surprising mechanism for stress reduction: reaching out to others.

Instinctively, I actually did this. The week before my talk I reached out to some friends to rehearse – on a stage. Though I felt incredibly vulnerable and exposed, the work helped me immensely. One of my friends said, “use the stress as energy. Transform it to help you.” And you know what?  It worked! Though I still need to work on corralling the stress, the Silver Lining is that I now know (& believe!) that it can be done!

Kelly McGonial’s TED video is below. Give yourself a gift and take the time to watch it. This message is a real life changer!

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  1. Carolee Groux says

    A case of butterflies in your tummy can give you that extra energy adrenalin rush, charging up your batteries to perform at your optimum capacity. However uncontrolled stress can manifest itself in sweaty palms, shaking hands and knees, dry mouth, pounding heart, etc. This is off-putting to not only the speaker, but the audience as well. They react negatively as they are feeling compassion for the speaker, and not hearing the speaker's message.
    I learned this as an actress: Be prepared, know your lines, (or material), take deep breaths in and out before taking the stage, (or podium), and concentrate on getting your message/performance across to the audience. Use your adrenalin rush to energize your performance. At this point focus on your audience, not on yourself. Make eye contact, project your voice, speak clearly, don't rush, and enjoy your performance.