Health Managing Self Positive Psychology

Can stress be good for you?

The holiday season is upon us. While this can be a fun-filled time with family and friends, it can also cause great stress. That is, extra stress on top of our regular day stress. So what is the best way to cope with all of this stress? Health Psychologist Kelly McGonigal says you should make it your friend.

Sound a bit crazy? Well, consider this – stress is an unavoidable part of life. We feel stressed when something important is at stake, and we care greatly about the outcome. These important tasks we complete that give us such stress also give us mean, so if we completely removed stress from our lives then we are removing some of the meaning as well. In her book, The Upside of Stress, McGonigal suggests that we see our stress response (rapid heartbeat, breathing, anxious energy, etc.) as our body preparing to handle the important task. So, rather than seeing our stress response as something to be managed, we should see it as a resource to help us get through our important task. If we view stress in this light then it can be our friend, helping us get through a tough challenge.

I bet the next question you have is, “so how do I make stress my friend?” There are many different methods you can use such as changing your mindset towards stress. The way you think about stress will determine how your body responds to it. There is a body of research that suggests people who see stress as beneficial, and not harmful, will actually experience positive effects from stress. It’s just a matter of reprogramming your thinking from stress being harmful and an inconvenience, to stress being a beneficial resource that can help us get tasks done.

For more tips on how to make stress your friend, check out McGonigal’s Ted Talk here.


About the author

Michelle Heighington

I am a registered holistic nutritionist (RNCP and ROHP) who also holds a degree in medical anthropology. Having worked in the legal industry for 15 years I became familiar with the corporate lifestyle and culture, and how the dedication to work – and the addiction to caffeine and sugar cravings that come with it – can get in the way of achieving a desired work/life balance. Through corporate workshops, articles and providing customized nutrition advice tailored to busy lifestyles, I help people to stay healthy at work without losing billable hours or precious time after work. You can reach me at or visit my website

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