Stress doesn’t kill you, how you think about it does

Stress is not some artificial state that slowly kills us. Rather, it’s a completely natural state that the body enters into when we’re in unfamiliar and uncomfortable territory. It gives us energy, excitement, and strength.

This is one way to think about stress, and the way you should think about it. But many people, including myself, think about stress as a state that wears down our body and shortens our lifespan.

Research from the University of Wisconsin-Madison shows that how you perceive stress is how stress affects you.

Researchers found that if you view stress as a strengthening mechanism, it doesn’t negatively affect your health. But if you view stress as a health risk, you have a 43% increased risk of premature death.

Let that sink in for a moment.

Now let it stress you out a bit.

But instead of viewing the stress running through your veins right now as a bad thing, view it as a way to help you change. Make stress your friend.

Next time you have an interview, a presentation, layoff, debt, or anything else commonly thought of as stressful, use the stress it causes as a weapon to make a positive change.

Bottom line: Don’t dwell on stress. Use it for positive change. You’ll get more shit done, and you’ll live longer.

If you want to get a breakdown of the research in layman’s terms and get some tips for using stress to improve your lifestyle, read the NYT article How to Be Better at Stress. You can also watch the 14-minute TED Talk How to Make Stress Your Friend.

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