Kelly McGonigal, a health psychologist, presented the findings of a study that followed 30,000 people in the USA for eight years. They found that people who experienced stress and believed it was bad for their health had a 43 percent higher chance of dying. On the other hand, people who experienced a lot of stress but did not view this as bad for them had less chance of dying — even less than people who experienced relatively little stress.
You can change how you respond to stress by changing your view about stress
There is a body of evidence showing that changing how stress is viewed can change the physiological response to stress, decreasing the negative responses and health consequences of stress. For example, the pounding heart rate and increased breath rate associated with a nerve-racking experience — if viewed as an indication that your body is preparing to perform at its highest instead of as a sign that you are not coping — not only make you feel more confident, but also make your blood vessels less likely to constrict – they stay relaxed.
McGonigal explains that this state of heightened excitement, with the heart pounding but the blood vessels remaining relaxed is the same state produced by experiences of joy.
The way you think about stress influences the negative consequences of it, and may reduce the negative health impacts as well.