We often hear about stress and the harmful effects it has on the body and mind. Heart problems, high blood pressure, anxiety and exhaustion-related stress are concepts more of us are familiar with.

It’s fair to say that for most of us stress = bad!

However, some interesting developments have happened in the field of stress research lately which paint an intriguing picture.

How to Make Stress Your Friend

Kelly McGonigal speaks about stress in an interesting way in her TED talk “How to Make Stress Your Friend.”

Kelly is a health psychologist who recently began thinking about stress in a completely new light. She says that rather than seeing stress as an enemy, she is beginning to learn how to see its usefulness. Not only that, but she believes the way we think about stress actually impacts the way our bodies respond to it.

In a study of 30,000 adults in the US which took place over a period of 8 years, participants were asked how much stress they felt they had endured over the last few years. They were also asked if they believed that stress is harmful for a person. The researchers then compared the answers to the amount of people who died after the survey took place.

The results were astounding.

The study found that people who had experienced a large amount of stress in the last year had a 43% increased risk of dying. However, the study also found that this number was only true for the people who believed that stress is harmful for you. Those who experienced high stress but did not believe it was harmful for you were no more likely to die.

The researchers came to the startling conclusion that it wasn’t stress in of itself that caused people to die, but the belief that stress was bad that did.

Can it be true that the way we think about how something like stress effects the way our body responds to it?

Watch Kelly’s TED talk to find out more!