Kelly McGonigal is a health psychologist whose goal is to help people feel healthier and happier. We at Fortis admire her greatly. Considering her mission in life, it makes sense that she consistently encourages people to avoid stress. After all, the outcomes of this tension and anxiety are often detrimental to well-being.
However, McGonigal has recently reported that her outlook on stress has shifted somewhat. She cited studies finding that stress isn’t actually harmful. It’s really the common perception of stress that’s so damaging. She elaborated by noting that stress is an indicator that one’s life has meaning. If you’re worried or overwhelmed, for instance, it means there’s someone or something that matters to you.
Our team members at Fortis have also learned that it helps to simply maintain awareness of the ways in which we experience stress. According to McGonigal, “All too often, in moments of stress we view that stress as a signal that we are inadequate or our lives are toxic…but how you think about stress plays a powerful role in how it affects your well-being.”
For instance, if you believe that stress is a negative force your body will produce hormones like cortisol. These in turn negatively impact your immune system and your health in general. Alternatively, if you perceive stress as a normal sign of being invested in something you will be better able to embrace it. That way, it won’t have so much power over you.
At Fortis, we encourage you to reconsider your outlook on stress today.