Can stress be GOOD for you?!

Yes, that’s right – can stress be good for you? And not in a good stress/bad stress kind of way. I mean whenever you feel it, is there a way to turn this to your advantage? 

This is just a quick post today, because mainly I’ve been putting together something super awesome for you. That’s not quite ready yet, but when I saw this item (thanks to my wife for sending it my way) I simply had to share it.

It’s about how stress could actually be beneficial. Not just in a fight or flight kind of way, but in terms of the way in which we view our purpose and the way in which we deal with difficult situations.

Scientists have found there is something of a paradox when it comes to stress. We all feel stress and think this is a bad thing, and hardly ever get close to asking ourselves  “can stress be good for you”. But according to a worldwide survey, the higher the stress the better our general well-being and the better our sense of purpose

And not only that. There was a better life expectancy, and a better level of happiness in people who suffered stress.

And there were you and I thinking all this stress would push us into an early grave.

Far from it.

Scientists were apparently baffled by this, but as research went on they seemed to find more and more interesting facts about stress and well-being.

The crux seemed to be in terms of the way we think about stress. Not if we suffer stress. We can still suffer stress and feel okay.

If we view stress positively, then we actually release more beneficial chemicals and less harmful ones. And not only that, but those who had a more optimistic view of stress came across to others as more personable.

All you had to do was appreciate that stress is something that can be good. It can make us grow and drive us faster. It can make us more resourceful. It can drive invention by its necessity.


That was something of an eye opener for me. I had heard that, yes, there was “good and bad stress” but frankly I had yet to meet good stress, let alone shake its hand.

But the minute I adopted the same approach I instantly began to feel better. Not less stressed, that much is true, but certainly less worried.

It took me back a bit. I remember how I used to be visibly stressed back in my days on the daily newspaper, but I LOVED the job. I mean it gave me something exciting to get up for everyday. It gave me a white-knight sense of purpose. It presented me with the results of my labours in black and white the next day.

Now I understand: because I loved the job, I appreciated the stress. I embraced it.

I used to chug coffee and (back when I was extra naughty) power through cigarettes. All things that should have made me feel terrible within minutes. But no. I felt fine.

Stressed but fine.

I really do recommend that you watch the video by author Kelly McGonigal, embedded below, and let me know what you think. It is a long one – about 25 minutes – but it could be the best 25 minutes you have ever spent.

Think about it – rather than shrinking away from stress, you could be taking it all in your stride. The stress doesn’t go away, but you could be a damn sight happier.

It’s already helped me

Yes, believe it or not it helped me within minutes. I knew, for example, that I was falling behind on this blog. I hadn’t had the chance to update it for days. What was I to do?

Well, first I embraced my stress. I appreciated it could make me faster, more focused.

Then I got going. I produced an illustration I’m really happy with in record time on software I’d not used before today. And I’ll probably have this article written if not within the hour then only a little outside of it.

That’s not bad going, not bad going at all.

Imagine if you were to feel good about being stressed in your everyday life. How excited you you feel? Take a moment to picture it now.

Or what about if you wanted another job – how does the short time-frame you have each night to search for another job actually help you? How does it spur you on and make you feel more productive?

The possibilities are endless.

But the main thing I would say is you should check out the TED talk. Check it out and let me know what you think. The comment button is above the article. Give it a press and let me know if you get any positive results.