WATCH: My TED talk “How to Make Stress Your Friend”

In June 2013, I gave my “stress confession” at TEDGlobal in Edinburgh, Scotland. Watch the video, and check out the studies I described in the talk, below:

Keller, A., Litzelman, K., Wisk, L. E., Maddox, T., Cheng, E. R., Creswell, P. D., & Witt, W. P. (2012). Does the perception that stress affects health matter? The association with health and mortality. Health Psychology, 31(5), 677.
Jamieson, J. P., Nock, M. K., & Mendes, W. B. (2012). Mind over matter: Reappraising arousal improves cardiovascular and cognitive responses to stress. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 141(3), 417.
Poulin, M. J., Brown, S. L., Dillard, A. J., & Smith, D. M. (2013). Giving to others and the association between stress and mortality. American journal of public health, (0), e1-e7.
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21 Comments on “WATCH: My TED talk “How to Make Stress Your Friend””

  1. 12/31/2013 at 8:18 pm #

    Thanks for you work in willpower studies. Happy 2014.

  2. Jon Harper
    01/01/2014 at 11:31 am #

    Very interesting talk. I wonder if the same sort of thing holds true for the benefits of exercise, I.e., is exercise more beneficial if you enjoy doing it than when you are dragged to it?

    • 01/04/2014 at 8:07 am #

      @Jon Harper – your inquiry reminded me of this NPR story “Hotel Maids Challenge the Placebo Effect”

      • 01/04/2014 at 9:11 am #

        Thanks Maggie for sharing that link. I was very intrigued by that study when it came out and have been disappointed that attempts to replicate it with different populations have failed. I don’t know if the original success has to do with the intensity of the participant’s work activity, or something the cleaning staff did that other research groups’ participants didn’t, or what. But in general I think mindset matters and wish we knew more about how to harness the placebo effect.

  3. 01/11/2014 at 3:58 pm #

    Really enjoyed the TEDtalk. I’ll reframe all my old beliefs around stress – perhaps with NLP or CBT. The glass is half full again. Also found your book on the Willpower Instinct very helpful. Thanks!

  4. 01/21/2014 at 10:59 am #

    Hi Kelly,

    Do you see people individually for yoga training? I’ve had a request from someone who wants to work with a yoga teacher for ways she’s holding emotions in her body after a tree fell on her house. I thought you’d be great.

    Thanks, in any case!
    Renee Burgard

  5. 01/21/2014 at 11:19 pm #

    I’m a 25 year old former soldier working and going to school full time. I live a very high stress life and it’s evidenced by impacts on my physical health (anxiety, migraines, cardiac issues, etc). I’m very encouraged that the perception of stress is the core problem (as I view stress as the root of my issues and the bane of my existence). However, can you translate this information into something actionable for me? How can I change my perception of stress for the long term?

  6. 01/23/2014 at 2:04 pm #

    Hi Kelly! I loved this talk, and agree that compassion has an immense role in resilience & energy (ie Tibetan medicine model) But, out of curiosity, how do you account for caregiver stress, which doesn’t affect all caregivers, of course, but still? Is this strictly an issue of framing the stress to achieve the more positive outcome? Or do you see a role for body-based mindfulness? (i.e. perhaps learning to be aware when the oxytocin has converted into a more corrosive cortisol overload) Great talk. Thanks!

  7. 01/30/2014 at 2:06 am #

    Real nice video Kelly. You know it’s not just true in the subject of ‘stress’ but about any topic. There is seldom any universal truth. What we ‘believe’ becomes our own personal truth. And this is proven now scientifically.

    Those who believes that life is fun, that’s how life becomes. Those who believe life is difficult, that’s how life turns out. Those who believe that only honest way to be rich is to work hard, can never make a lot of money without working long hours, but those who believes that money comes to them effortlessly & easily tend to earn honestly but from comparatively less effort. Same is for health, relationship everything. Don’t you know some who eat fastfood & doesn’t exercise much, but still maintain a healthy & fit physique?

    Have you studied materials by Louise Hay, Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer, Esther & Jerry Hicks (Abraham)? Their work gives a in-depth insights on this subject.

  8. 02/27/2014 at 11:47 am #

    Really wonderful reframe of stress and learning to connect with it and connect to empathy and connecting with others to produce oxytocin….my question is when you have clients that over connect with others and over care for others…is there data on how that may impact their oxytocin and how to know when that is happening. Thanks so much!!

  9. 03/06/2014 at 8:29 am #

    Kelly, I’ve shared this talk with clients and colleagues, and used the courage principle, opening up my blood vessels, during oral surgery!!! Thanks much,

  10. John
    03/19/2014 at 7:19 am #


    Truly great talk here. I work a very high stress job and am starting my own business on the side. I have actively been shifting my perspective on stressors day to day. I feel better and get a lot more done.

    Thank you for this!


  11. 08/26/2014 at 2:19 am #

    ‘This is my body helping me with this challenge’ what a revolutionary way to see stress. I thought about our hearts pumping fast when making love which is a very positive activity…but we don’t think of it as a destructive one.
    Thank you so much for the talk, very enjoyable

  12. 10/06/2014 at 10:15 am #

    Kelly, This is such amazing information! As someone healing from Complex PTSD, I have found that connection, changing my perspective on stress, and physical touch (massage therapy) have all been essential to my recovery. Thank you for spreading the message and encouraging others to take their power back from stress.


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