Does Stress Make You Sick

Does Stress Really Make You Sick?

by Kalinda Rose Stevenson

Why Changing Your Mind about Stress Improves Your Health

Does stress make you sick? A common assumption is that stress is dangerous for your health. Whatever you do, you need to relax, calm down, de-stress yourself.

Are you ready for a life-changing perspective about the health-building impact of stress on your life?

Dr. Kelly McGonigal, health psychologist, delivered a remarkable talk about the connections between stress and health at a TedGlobal Conference in Edinburgh, Scotland.

You might be astonished at what she says about the health benefits of stress in your life. She even claims that stress can be your friend.

Continue reading the following transcript for a brief introduction to her talk.

I have a confession to make. But first, I want you to make a little confession to me. In the past year, I want you to just raise your hand if you've experienced relatively little stress. Anyone?

How about a moderate amount of stress?

Who has experienced a lot of stress? Yeah. Me too.

But that is not my confession. My confession is this: I am a health psychologist, and my mission is to help people be happier and healthier. But I fear that something I've been teaching for the last 10 years is doing more harm than good, and it has to do with stress. For years I've been telling people, stress makes you sick. It increases the risk of everything from the common cold to cardiovascular disease. Basically, I've turned stress into the enemy. But I have changed my mind about stress, and today, I want to change yours.

Let me start with the study that made me rethink my whole approach to stress. This study tracked 30,000 adults in the United States for eight years, and they started by asking people, "How much stress have you experienced in the last year?" They also asked, "Do you believe that stress is harmful for your health?" And then they used public death records to find out who died.

Okay. Some bad news first. People who experienced a lot of stress in the previous year had a 43 percent increased risk of dying. But that was only true for the people who also believed that stress is harmful for your health.

People who experienced a lot of stress but did not view stress as harmful were no more likely to die. In fact, they had the lowest risk of dying of anyone in the study, including people who had relatively little stress.

Watch the whole presentation or download the transcript of the talk at  TEDGlobal 2013

[Original Post Oct 24, 2016]

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