A review by joliendelandsheer
The Upside of Stress: Why Stress Is Good for You, and How to Get Good at It by Kelly McGonigal


Original review at The Fictional Reader


When I saw this book on Edelweiss, I requested it immediately. I had watched Kelly McGonigal’s Ted Talk before and found it to be incredibly interesting. However, Ted Talks are always quite short and I wanted to hear so much more on this topic. I have to say that this book did not disappoint.

In this day and age, I’m pretty sure that every single person can benefit from reading this book. We all have quite busy lives trying to fit so much in 24 hours. And with that comes the inevitable amount of stress we all face from time to time. For me personally, stress often comes from university. Juggling the weekly schedule with blogging -and my social life- already causes a tiny amount of stress, but by the last two months of the semester, all hell always breaks loose. In this semester, I had to write 9 papers which were all due in the same 2 weeks. And of course, I had to prepare for exams and blog at the same time. At that point in time, I felt so stressed out, I wanted to cry.

This book guys. It should become to go-to book for anyone who has ever felt overwhelmed at a certain moment. Kelly McGonigal has collected information on tons of research done on the subject, and explains it in a simple and understandable way. The basic focus of the book is how our mindset affects absolutely everything in our life -but also how our body reacts. For example, those who have a positive mindset towards aging -who see it as a good thing- tend to live around 6 to 7 years longer. WHAT? Just by thinking, and truly believing in something, we can make our body react to it. Isn’t that incredible?

While this book hasn’t changed my mindset on stress immediately –which let’s face it, is impossible– it has definitely had a positive influence on it. When I now think “I’m so stressed I want to cry!”, I stop and remind myself that I’m only feeling stressed because I care. And that I can harness the stress to perform even better. So I think that over time, in practicing this, this book will have such a positive influence on my life! I’m glad I read it when I’m still so young –yes, I’m 20, that’s still young OKAY.

I always have certain doubts when I read so-called self-help books. Just because someone makes a statement, doesn’t make it true! So why should I believe them? But I didn’t have to worry about it with this book The Upside of Stress is based on tons of scientific research. McGonigal explains the research, how it was done, what the test subjects were and what they ultimately found out. Sharing every part of research is what makes it truly believable to me. I guess I am a “I’ll believe it when I see it” kind of person. But McGonigal truly did her research on the subject and it was so fascinating! That is why I believe her conclusions, why I believe that stress can truly have an upside now. Because it was shown to me through science. I’m not much of a faith person..

Lastly, I want to add that this books isn’t just about stress. It also talks about resilience, fear, (social) anxiety, happiness, caring for others and so on. It shows you how kindness can affect our lives -and more than just through karma. It taught me a lot about my fears, and how I should not let my life be ruled by them.

I highly recommend this book -if you hadn’t noticed- and I hope that if you do pick it up, it will have a positive influence on your life as well. No matter how big or small, an improvement is an improvement.

To end my review, I’ll leave you with Kelly McGonigal’s Ted Talk. If you are interested, I’d recommend watching it so you can decide whether you want to go on and read the book. Or if you do read the book, go for the audiobook! It’s really great.