I hold a job and am getting a graduate degree. A few days ago,
upon talking to my class instructor, I got overwhelmed by stress.
How am I going to update my assignment under a new deadline? Do I
need to get up early and do school work before going to my job? As
questions and ideas were rushing through my mind, I decided to look
up information about stress. A
TED Talk came up in my online search, and it has changed my
view on stress and its role in our lives.
Although we all face stress in some form or another--I am
certainly not alone in holding a job and going to school at the
same time--we may not really know how to think about it or how to
process it. It may hurt us more than it needs to. So, let's talk
What is stress?
Institute of Stress states stress is a "response of the body to
any demand for change." Short-term stress, which is the type I was
experiencing a few days ago, may manifest as heart pounding,
quickened breathing, or sweating.
Extended stress can seriously cause harm. It may lead to heart
attacks, stroke, kidney disease, and rheumatoid arthritis.
How can we think about stress?
McGonigal gave her TED Talk in June 2013 and has since been
seen by more than 10 million people. In it she urges us to "to see
stress as a positive." I have heard this idea before but did not
really understand it until McGonigal gave this example, "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." What an important distinction.
This notion shook my inner views of stress. McGonigal's talk
shows the power of thought. My thoughts were giving stress their
harmful power when I should have been viewing this stress as a
body's reaction to my environment.
I listened to the TED Talk as I was experiencing stress. Did the
stress go away once I listened to the talk? No. But while I was
still feeling overwhelmed and my thoughts were racing, I was able
to start seeing what I was facing as a
tool to prompt me to take action--to figure out my next steps
on how to get my work done under the new deadline. I keep
researching stress, but now I look at it as a useful tool, not a
negative experience or something that freezes me.
Stress is a daily experience for most of us, and it is good to
handle it to our benefit. Maybe the TED Talk may help your
understanding of stress, like it did for me.