Stress Makes You Social

Your belief about stress, about whether or not it is harmful to your health, determines its effect on your health.

When you change your mind about stress, you can change your body’s response to stress.

[I]n a typical stress response, your heart rate goes up, and your blood vessels constrict… [W]hen participants viewed their stress response as helpful, their blood vessels stayed relaxed... like what happens in moments of joy and courage.

[T]he next time your heart is pounding from stress, you’re going to remember this talk and you’re going to think to yourself, this is my body helping me rise to this challenge… [W]hen you view stress in that way, your body believes you, and your stress response becomes healthier.

Stress makes you social. When we experience stress, the pituitary gland releases the neuro-hormone oxytocin.

[W]hen oxytocin is released in the stress response, it is motivating you to seek support. Your biological stress response is nudging you to tell someone how you feel, instead of bottling it up. Your stress response wants to make sure you notice when someone else in your life is struggling so that you can support each other. When life is difficult, your stress response wants you to be surrounded by people who care about you.

[C]hasing meaning is better for your health than trying to avoid discomfort… [G]o after what it is that creates meaning in your life, and then trust yourself to handle the stress that follows.

Full Transcript of Kelly McGonigal: How to Make Stress Your FriendTEDGlobal 2013 · Filmed June 2013

32 thoughts on “Stress Makes You Social

  1. joelsax47 June 13, 2015 / 9:40 pm

    Sometimes people who care about me — without wanting to control me — seem most at a premium when I am under stress. But i like the image of the “body rising to the challenge”. It fits.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kitt O'Malley June 14, 2015 / 11:14 am

      Yes, those relationships are so important. Body rising to the challenge does indeed fit.


  2. Maria F. June 12, 2015 / 1:36 pm

    Very interesting, I wouldn’t have thought of stress that way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kitt O'Malley June 12, 2015 / 4:28 pm

      When I used to act, we would channel stage jitters as energy for our performance, much the same way.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Yve's Corner June 12, 2015 / 1:19 pm

    Thanks for this wonderful article. It makes sense to me especially as often when I find myself in stressful situations I create initiatives to address that stress and make sure others who are going through the same stress get help. E.g I struggled as a student and single parent and so started a single parent society at university. I felt alone and distressed as someone with bipolar disorder, I started an initiative to address that.

    so your article makes me feel totally normal.

    Thank you Kitt! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kitt O'Malley June 12, 2015 / 3:41 pm

      You’re an achiever! Better than normal. You use adversity as inspiration to help others. Perfect.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. bipolarsojourner June 12, 2015 / 1:05 pm

    Kelly McGonigal also did a talk on the concept of super better and how having a mindset of resilience can help in recovery, what resilence is and what are the different types of resilence. it’s well worth the watch, too.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. vanbytheriver June 12, 2015 / 12:27 pm

    That’s pretty brilliant. Thanks, Kitt, a new way to look at the stress that we all work so hard to avoid. ☺

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kitt O'Malley June 12, 2015 / 12:43 pm

      Yes. Interesting, too, for when I acted, we were taught to channel our nervous energy into our performance. Similar concept.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. dyane June 12, 2015 / 12:15 pm

    I’m definitely watching this talk before leading the “women with mood disorders” support group tomorrow. I LOVE being with them but it’s my biggest “social” event each month and I get totally stressed out. I freak about dumb logistics and pressure myself to be “on”.

    The good news is that in the name of self-care I decreased our meeting frequency from 2/x to 1/x month, and I’m going to arrange for substitute facilitators for when I can’t attend. It was a bittersweet-but-necessary decision.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kitt O'Malley June 12, 2015 / 12:42 pm

      Good idea. Must take care of yourself. It empowers others to share in facilitating.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. dyane June 12, 2015 / 9:44 am

    Dang, I thought that was Kris Carr! I’m excited to watch Kelly’s talk!

    This really is an awesome topic….and your timing is spot-on.
    So glad you found it for us! Xoxox

    Liked by 1 person

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