April is National Stress Awareness Month. So let’s do our best and be aware so we can truly understand what stress means – and what it doesn’t mean.

I am a fan of TED Talks. Many are very good. I have watched several done by authors of books I have previously read and I was surprised how much I could learn in 20 minutes compared to the hours it took me to read their books. I assume my understanding is deeper for having read the books, but the TED Talks were still very impressive.

One I watched recently was on how to make stress your friend. The speaker was Kelly McGonigal, a health psychologist from Stanford. Her admission that she had been approaching stress incorrectly for the past 10+ years is compelling. Who wants to come to an international platform and acknowledge they have been operating on an incorrect assumption in their professional life? And if you decided to make such a bold claim, would you not want to be certain that your new position was accurate?

In her own words, “My confession is this: I am a health psychologist, and my mission is to help people be happier and healthier. But I fear that something I’ve been teaching for the last 10 years is doing more harm than good, and it has to do with stress. For years I’ve been telling people, stress makes you sick. It increases the risk of everything from the common cold to cardiovascular disease. Basically, I’ve turned stress into the enemy. But I have changed my mind about stress, and today, I want to change yours.”

Wow. That is quite a statement.

In her talk, she goes on to use data to prove her point. She claims that as many as 20,000 Americans die each year from the belief that stress is bad for them. That number is higher than the number of deaths from homicide, skin cancer and HIV/AIDS.

There is more to the talk than I am sharing here and I urge you to take the time to watch the talk. It may safe your life. It may safe the life of someone you love.

You can watch the talk here How to make stress your friend What