Don’t Stress: It Could be a Good Thing


Stress can be a good thing, and the real life world abounds with illustrations of that reality. This TEDTalk by psychologist Kelly McGonigal teaches How to Make Stress Our Friend. Listen to every word or read the Interactive transcript of the presentation to learn about the naturally-occuring chemical and behaviors which can lengthen your life no matter the misery you face.

Involving experts can also help you to turn stress into a good thing. Specialists and professionals, possibly your colleagues, can reduce the time you’d otherwise take to finding solutions by sharing their knowledge; It’s a matter of the old “No need to re-invent the wheel” wisdom at work.

Identifying the reality of a situation rather than letting misunderstandings confuse a given issue can improve or end some problems. The young woman cited in this For years doctors wrongly diagnosed these strange episodes as panic attacks article was saved from a life of misdiagnosed misery. Her actual problem was a sensory processing disorder (SPD). Sometimes it shows up in people who feel “stabbed” by the tags on their clothing or agonized by certain weather conditions. WebMD explains how SPD can affect children. STAR Institute’s website describes SPD in adults. Once the facts are sorted from the fictions, stress sufferers can lead happier lives. Your savior might not prove to be an occupational therapist as cited in that astonishing article, but he or she will rescue you if you let them.

No matter the source of a given stressor, there are ways to cope with stress. Coping is not a cure for stress; it is a means of making progress with, and enjoying, the rest of your life despite a period of agony.

An increasing number of effective resources for recovering from the devastation of sex abuse exist, as indicated in a Psychology Today article, this National Catholic Reporter story, and in grassroots efforts such as the groundbreaking Miss America by Day book and Australia’s Tzedek organization. What these resources share in common is that they help the victims to take charge of their lives, and to use their horrific experiences to prevent further abuse of themselves and other people. As McGonigal’s studies showed, community work is a healing experience.

Classic Do-it-Yourself tools for stressed-out people are the Mental Health Through Will Training book and its associated Recovery Institute. They address any given source of stress and support unhappy people with time-tested techniques for dealing with it to prevent a retreat from daily life. RI meetings tend to fill with smiling participants familiar with the techniques to reduce, to prevent, or to recover from stress. Newbies can catch on, after a while. The companionship in and friendships built through RI and similar groups turn stress into a life-improving topic. Magazines are full of “Ways to Overcome Stress” articles and TV’s Dr Phil has almost made “turning Stress into Fun” into an art.

One important thing about putting stress into perspective is that tension alerts us to problems that need solving. Some people deal productively with the pressure by turning it into a game. They solve aspects of their problems with a sense of fun or victory as solutions are reached. Think back to when you found addition and subtraction to be perplexing. Your teachers or family members used money to let you pretend to shop or to count loose change. As you proceeded with transactions you counted required amounts, then the change left over. You left those lessons laughing with increased self-respect. The same technique can be used to make stress fun.

Books, explanatory videos, simulated computer games and role-playing with friends are some adult resources for mastering baffling problems. Have fun defeating unhappiness with the tools that you choose to use.