Pressure for fun”. That was how a family friend, who lived an idyllic life in the remote woods of Vermont, described some of the Lynn family recreational antics. It turns out that the attitude you have to stress affects whether its impact on you are positive or negative. One person’s stress is another’s stimulation.

Kelly McGonigal’s TED talk “How to make stress your friend” explores this positive side of stress:

  • “Now, in a typical stress response, your heart rate goes up, and your blood vessels constrict like this. And this is one of the reasons that chronic stress is sometimes associated with cardiovascular disease. It’s not really healthy to be in this state all the time. But in the study, when participants viewed their stress response as helpful, their blood vessels stayed relaxed like this…So my goal as a health psychologist has changed. I no longer want to get rid of your stress. I want to make you better at stress…And the cool thing is that all of these physical benefits of oxytocin are enhanced by social contact and social support. So when you reach out to others under stress, either to seek support or to help someone else, you release more of this hormone, your stress response becomes healthier, and you actually recover faster from stress. I find this amazing, that your stress response has a built-in mechanism for stress resilience, and that mechanism is human connection.”