Have you ever felt stressed or overwhelmed? Perhaps you are nodding at the moment. And if so, you are probably doing your best to avoid stress — the root of every modern-day ailment. Many people struggle to deal with that feeling of discomfort and dismay on their own and seek assistance from a psychologist.
We also sought a professional opinion on the matter and chose to introduce you to one different point of view.
Psychologist Kelly McGonigel has spent most of her career encouraging people to avoid stress and its harmful effects. However, at a recent press conference in New York, McGonigall said her approach to stress management has changed fundamentally in recent years.
What does this mean? According to her, stress is not necessarily bad due to two reasons:
Stress means life is meaningful
First, stress and worry can be a sign that your life has meaning. Being stressed generally means you are engaged in something that really matters to you — whether that is interviewing for a dream job or taking care of your child.
Stress can be your friend
Second, simply being aware of the benefits of stress can help you cope with it.
Very often, in moments of stress we view it as a signal that we are inadequate or our lives are toxic. But it’s all a matter of perspective. According to McGonigel, the way you think about stress plays a powerful role in how it affects your well-being.
For example, when you face a stressful situation — like a job interview — you will let the stress take over you and experience its damaging effects on your immune system and overall health, or..
Or you will go into that interview understanding and even embracing the potential advantages of stress. Studies indicate that not only will you have a healthier physiological response, but you are also more likely to find meaning in your struggle and learn from it.
McGonigal’s current challenge is not helping people reduce the amount of stress in their lives — but persuading them to stop resisting it. Ultimately, she believes, stress is not a signal that there is something wrong with your life. On the contrary, being stressed means you are fully invested in whatever you are doing. As for the next time you show up sweaty-palmed and shaky-legged to a job interview? Telling yourself to calm down probably won’t help. Instead, try thinking about it this way: “Something I care about is at stake.” Those nerves will subside before you know it.