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The Upside of Stress - Kelly McGonigal


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I listened to the TED talk and I read the study she references: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3374921/

 

IMO the study does not show that your beliefs about stress cause the health issues.

 

Much simpler explanation is that people who see that they have health issues and see that they have stress then believe that stress causes health issues. And voila these people have worse mortality than people who do not have health issues and therefore do not believe that stress causes health issues.

 

This leaves the question of whether stress causes health issues or not open. It's possible that some specific stress does. It's possible that stress doesn't. It's also possible that her claim is true and beliefs are what cause health issues. But at least from this study it's impossible to say.

 

FWIW.

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I listened to the TED talk and I read the study she references: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3374921/

 

IMO the study does not show that your beliefs about stress cause the health issues.

 

Much simpler explanation is that people who see that they have health issues and see that they have stress then believe that stress causes health issues. And voila these people have worse mortality than people who do not have health issues and therefore do not believe that stress causes health issues.

 

This leaves the question of whether stress causes health issues or not open. It's possible that some specific stress does. It's possible that stress doesn't. It's also possible that her claim is true and beliefs are what cause health issues. But at least from this study it's impossible to say.

 

FWIW.

 

This is addressed in the book. But it's also not that simple. Just like growth mindset vs fixed mindset affects your actual behavior and decisions and creates a positive or negative loop, mindset about stress also affects these things and affects outcomes.

 

If you think stress is scary and bad and you always try to avoid it, you'll try to avoid all kinds of activity and experiences (especially new ones or challenging ones) that might make you grow or bring you good things. And people who usually try to avoid this kind of stress aren't less stressed, they just avoid the things, so it's a double loss.

 

If you're about to do something stressful and think "I'm just excited, my body's gearing up to help me do well, all this adrenaline is making my mind sharper, etc", you'll probably do better than if you're worrying about being too stressed to do well and think that to do well you have to not be stressed, which itself is putting pressure on you and making you more stressed, etc..

 

she also talks about stress responses aren't monolithic, there are various ones, and how you think about the situation will impact which one is triggered. If you think you can handle things, you'll more likely have a challenge response, which is healthy and helps performance more, while if you think you can't cope and can't handle it, you're more likely to have a threat response, which has more negative effects (ideal in a life or death situation, but not ideal to have frequently in day to day life).

 

On the correlation/causation issue, there's studies cited in the book where they track people before and after the mindset intervention and show results. If it was just that people less affected by stress had that mindset, it wouldn't show results on those.

 

It makes a lot of sense. I suggest you read the book.

 

 

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Good discussion, thanks for posting.

 

I had a music theory exam today & wound up breaking 3 pencils.

 

I was concentrating so hard on double checking my work that I lost track of time & when the prof announced "6 minutes" I still had a good bit of work left.

 

He let me stay an extra 15 minutes and I managed to complete the exam but it stressed the crap out of me.

 

Couldn't concentrate for $h!t in my next class, math for liberal arts.

We're doing logic & it requires a completely different intelligence.

It feels like trying to turn a bus with no power steering.

 

The stress of school is debilitating to a lot of people.

I've seen quite a few of my fellow students melt down into tears over exams (I occasionally break pencils.)

 

We actually had a student in the music program commit suicide last semester.

 

https://www.srpressgazette.com/news/20181012/william-cassidy-schork

 

I'm sure many of you who are college graduates have experienced the extreme pressures of school.

 

Forcing yourself to get outside of your comfort zone is difficult but it can produce good results.

Everyone has a different level of stress that they can deal with and still be productive.

 

I took on too much in my 1st semester & have since found a good balance.

I still feel overwhelmed on occasion but have learned to chunk my study & practice.

I also have a lot of pencils.

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Good discussion, thanks for posting.

...

Forcing yourself to get outside of your comfort zone is difficult but it can produce good results.

...

Good discussion indeed.

 

It seems that there are two sources of stress: intrinsic and extrinsic. Interesting to note that, during an era of improved standards and enlightenment (Mr. Pinker’s line of thinking), self-reported levels of stress have been growing and are reaching record levels. It may have something to do with the growing self-reported levels of anxiety and isolation at a time when we have never been more “connected” (“friends” on social media etc).

 

The internal stress is defined mostly by your core beliefs and I guess what Ms. McGonigal describes is a method to alter those core beliefs. I would say outside input may be helpful but most of the work has to be internalized and, in my humble experience, I’ve rarely seen people change significantly after reaching adulthood (and even before), in terms of the ability to deal with stress.

 

DooDiligence, your post reminded me of a quote (Mark Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer):

“Tom said to himself that it was not such a hollow world, after all. He had discovered a great law of human action, without knowing it—namely, that in order to make a man or a boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to attain. If he had been a great and wise philosopher, like the writer of this book, he would now have comprehended that Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do, and that Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do.”

 

I guess it boils down to doing the right things for the right reasons, and attitude.

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Good discussion, thanks for posting.

...

Forcing yourself to get outside of your comfort zone is difficult but it can produce good results.

...

Good discussion indeed.

 

It seems that there are two sources of stress: intrinsic and extrinsic. Interesting to note that, during an era of improved standards and enlightenment (Mr. Pinker’s line of thinking), self-reported levels of stress have been growing and are reaching record levels. It may have something to do with the growing self-reported levels of anxiety and isolation at a time when we have never been more “connected” (“friends” on social media etc).

 

The internal stress is defined mostly by your core beliefs and I guess what Ms. McGonigal describes is a method to alter those core beliefs. I would say outside input may be helpful but most of the work has to be internalized and, in my humble experience, I’ve rarely seen people change significantly after reaching adulthood (and even before), in terms of the ability to deal with stress.

 

DooDiligence, your post reminded me of a quote (Mark Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer):

“Tom said to himself that it was not such a hollow world, after all. He had discovered a great law of human action, without knowing it—namely, that in order to make a man or a boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to attain. If he had been a great and wise philosopher, like the writer of this book, he would now have comprehended that Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do, and that Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do.”

 

I guess it boils down to doing the right things for the right reasons, and attitude.

 

Yes  :)

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