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Upside of Stress

If you have butterflies in your stomach, invite them into your heart.
— Cooper Edens
Released May 2015

Released May 2015


The Definition of Stress

Stress is what arises when something you care about is at stake.  In other words, you don't stress out about things you don't care about, and you can't create a meaningful life without experiencing some stress.


Change Your Mind About Stress

Changing your mindset puts into motion processes that perpetuate positive change over time.

What is your stress mantra? 

How do your react when other people are stressed?

What is your own stress mindset? 


Dr. McGonigal helps us answer these key questions. The first big shift I had to make while reading this book is that stress is GOOD for you. I know. It goes against everything we have ever been taught about stress. The ultimate goal is to have a more balanced view of stress. Let stress be a catalyst for change.


Change your mindset. Change your life.

Our bodies have a natural biochemical response to stress. It releases cortisol to signal our sympathetic system, or "fight-or-flight", to respond to an acute situation. Often seen as a negative response, Dr. McGonigal has measured the growth index to represent how stress can be good for us over the long term.

The Growth Index

  • A ratio of cortisol divided by DHEA.
  • Cortisol helps turn sugar & fat into energy. It suppresses digestion, reproduction, and growth. 
  • DHEA is a neurosteroid and a hormone that helps your brain grow stronger during stressful periods. It speeds up wound repair and enhances immune function. 
  • The ratio of theses two hormones can influence the long-term consequences of stress. i.e. the growth index of a stress response. The higher it is, the more your thrive under stress.

Beyond Fight or Flight

She takes us beyond our initial fight or flight response and describes three different types of CHRONIC stress responses.

  1. Challenge - increases self confidence, motivates action, and helps you learn from the experience. Helps you perform under pressure. This is what we call the flow state and has higher levels of DHEA. 
  2. Tend-and-befriend - increases courage, motivates caregiving, and strengthens social relationships. Driven by oxytocin, or the feel-good hormone. It's primary function is to build and strengthen bonds - like during sex and breastfeeding. The chemical of courage. 
  3. Growth - This is a newer concept that stress can actually INCREASE the neuroplasticity of your brain to help you learn from your experience. Research calls it the “stress index” of stress hormones (cortisol, DHEA) that can predict if you will be strengthened or weakened by a stressful experience.


Learn how you can use the 3 different types of stress response to your advantage.

Enter the zone below.


We are all broken people in some way. How do you live a good life despite, or within, that brokenness?
— Mary Wiltenburg, 9/11