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Book Recommendations

The Upside of Stress

November 2022
— Reading Time: 2 minutes

Kelly McGonigal PhD is a health psychologist and lecturer at Stanford University. Her TED talk on the upside of stress has received more than nine million views.

Wow! This says a lot about the huge interest there is in this subject. The bad rap given to stress, is met full on by McGonigal; universally, and pervasively, stress has an enormously negative profile. She intends to investigate if it is deserved.

Through close inquiry of the Science and Positive Psychology research, tapping into her students and mining her case studies, she sets about reframing the discussion around stress. Why is this important? So many of us hamper, even sabotage, ourselves by the current framing; in fact, McGonigal will attest, stress can be…embraced. With this attitude, stress may even be beneficial – if not immediately in the context of serious trauma or grief, retrospectively – in building resilience and initiating personal growth.

The book is divided in to two parts: Part 1: Rethink Stress and Part 2: Transform Stress.

Stress is defined as ‘what arises when something you care about is at stake.’ This definition has immediate benefits in reframing the discussion: we don’t stress about things that don’t matter! Knowing this, is a surefire way of highlighting what we value and in identifying our purpose. With this awareness of the link between stress and meaning, we are on our way to using stress to enhance our chances of living a meaningful life. If we ‘can learn to fear stress less and to trust ourselves to handle it’, we can actually use stress as a resource. This is revelatory amidst the current, almost universal negative thinking about stress. We can make it work for us? Surely finding out how – when stress is such a prodigious and even debilitating commodity in most of our lives – is compelling. With the answers provided, this book is a game-changer.

The Upside of Stress is a rich resource for my manifesto. It is a valuable reminder to challenge and reframe the language around stress. It has wonderfully practical mindset intervention exercises; we look forward to incorporating these as success strategies into our coaching tool kit. No doubt, it will generate many, many Wellbeing Insights blogs.  Essentially, it is a ‘must have’!

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