Review: The Upside of Stress by Kelly McGonigal

the upside of stressThe Upside of Stress by Kelly McGonigal
Published: May 5th, 2015

Genre: Non-Fiction
Rating: 5/5 stars

Goodreads | Bookdepository (affiliate link)

I received this book from the publisher -THANK YOU- via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion in any way.

Synopsis: The Upside of Stress is the first book to bring together cutting-edge discoveries on the correlation between resilience—the human capacity for stress-related growth—and mind-set, the power of beliefs to shape reality. As she did in The Willpower Instinct, McGonigal combines science, stories, and exercises into an engaging and practical book that is both entertaining and life-changing, showing you: how to cultivate a mind-set to embrace stress, how stress can provide focus and energy, how stress can help people connect and strengthen close relationships, why your brain is built to learn from stress, and how to increase its ability to learn from challenging experiences.


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 profit 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.


Review: The Upside of Stress by Kelly McGonigal

One thought on “Review: The Upside of Stress by Kelly McGonigal

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s