The Upside of Stress – book review

Absolutely accessible. This book should be able to make sense and remain enjoyable throughout for everyone interested in the subject and capable of reading English (I would hereby like to make an open offer to do the Dutch translation when needed). There are reflections and exercises and the end of each chapter, making the book more suited to read in bits and pieces, rather than one sitting. For some of these reflections take time to do or to settle.

There are plenty of real-world examples from the New Science of Stress course madam McGonigal teaches at Stanford. She also refers to personal anecdotes and mentions her own pains and fears. By the time you finish the book, you feel like you’ve gotten to know her a little bit as a curious, enthusiastic, warm-hearted teacher who is at times as insecure, stressed out and gets as much in her own way as the rest of us. In between all these easily readable and relatable stories of humans and stress, there is more than enough scientific backing. The book provides clear explanations on how measurements show effects and shares results found, shedding a different light on our common idea of Stress. The body of research ranges from philosophy and sociology to experimental psychology and biology, all to test the hypothesis of the title; that there is an upside to being stressed.

To me the new distinction of Mind-set-research and the hormone-testing-experiments were most interesting. I was gratified to find the Brooks experiment mentioned, as this work is the inspiration for my Game Prompt experiment (paper forthcoming) and it feels so nice to have this book reflect the same enthusiasm I felt when reading the Brooks’ paper. The Upside of Stress has changed my perspective of feeling stressed – which was already along these lines – I feel this book has taken me further down the path of discovery I was on. I now have more points of interpretation to choose from. I can be more articulate and more evidence-based. For me, it fits right in with my own ‘theory of research’ and strengthens me that I am not alone as a researcher, that the effects are out there and a change is going to come. Exciting, isn’t it?

TL;DR: There is an Upside to Stress, this book has the science to prove it and will give you a useful different perspective of stress along the way.

Find the book here on Amazon

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