40: The Upside of Stress with Kelly McGonigal

"My heart is pounding because my heart is in it. Because I care. Because my body is getting ready to rise to this challenge."

—Kelly McGonigal, author of The Upside of Stress

Have you fallen into the trap of thinking that all stress is toxic? If so, you may be unknowingly compounding the effects of it on your body and mind—or at least missing out on some of the benefits and insights stress has to offer. Kelly McGonigal, a pioneer in the field of "science help" and one of my favorite authors, debunks a number of stress myths in the episode. I hope you enjoy the conversation as much as I did!

If you enjoyed this episode please share with a friend!

Kelly McGonigal

More About Kelly McGonigal

Dr. Kelly McGonigal is a health psychologist and lecturer at Stanford University. Her mission is to translate insights from psychology and neuroscience into practical strategies that support personal well-being and strengthen communities.

She is the author of several books, including the international bestseller The Willpower Instinct and her latest book the The Upside of Stress. Her 2013 TED talk, How to Make Stress Your Friend, is one of the 20 Most Viewed TED talks of all time, with over 11 million views.

Through the Stanford Center for Compassion and Altruism, she co-authored the Stanford Compassion Cultivation Training and studies how social connection can promote health, happiness, and resilience.

Topics We Cover

  • The biggest misperceptions about stress

  • How the notion that stress is toxic might compound it

  • How we think about stress has a profound effect on how we respond

  • We have a choice how we will experience self-doubt, a pounding heart

  • If you always think stress is something to escape or suppress, you might miss the wisdom in it

  • Sometimes stress is a signal to double-down and engage more, sometimes it's the need to make a change

  • The stress mindset doesn't necessarily lower stress chemicals in the body, but it will shift you from a threat response into a challenge response that improves performance—whether athletic performance, taking an exam, public speaking, even karaoke pitch and tone!

  • Although we do "catch" the emotions of others—why the idea that "stress is contagious" is harmful, and the most important things we can do when feeling lonely, stressed or sad

  • Trust that your body and brain will push you in the direction of activating your bigger-than-self resources

  • Recognize the enormous capacity we have to deal with difficulty

  • Kelly's passion for group fitness, movement—dance, mixed martial arts, yoga. "It's like power posing for sixty minutes."

  • The role music plays in life and embodied memory, experience

  • The tragedy gap as a way to point you back toward what you most care about

Podcast: The Upside of Stress with Kelly McGonigal

Listen below or on iTunesSoundCloudOvercast, or Google Play Music:

Resources Mentioned

Check out other episodes of the Pivot Podcast here. Be sure to subscribe via iTunesAndroid or SoundCloud, and if you enjoy the show I would be very grateful for a rating and/or review! Sign-up for my weekly #PivotList newsletter to receive curated round-ups of what I'm reading, watching, listening to, and new tools I'm geeking out on.