Ted Talk – How to Make Stress Your Friend

I chose the Ted Talk How to Make Stress Your Friend by Kelly McGonigal. I didn’t agree with some of the points she raised, and of the ones I do agree with she oversold, saying things like how the talk could save peoples’ lives, when really she just used uncited, likely unreliable studies as the basis for some otherwise uninspiring thoughts.

I don’t really have any issues with the premise of her talk as a whole. Her main idea, that your mindset in regards to stress can affect your physical response to it, is not a particularly outrageous thought. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is an application of this idea that is commonly used for treating  various mental illnesses. The idea is that your thoughts, behaviours, and emotions all effect each other, and so changing how you think about something can effect how you respond to it physically and emotionally.

The issue that I have with the talk is that the research she used as the basis for much of it comes from a field of study known for its unreliability. In the past year, there has been somewhat of a crisis in the field of psychological research where studies thought to be sound could not have their results replicated. Not to mention the fact that studies always have some bias, and it is easy to manipulate statistics so that they say what you want them to say. This throws into question the validity of the speaker’s claims, and the basis of her talk.

This talk isn’t life changing in any meaningful ways as the speaker didn’t really present any revolutionary ideas. Neither the fact that stress can be a detriment to your physical health, or the idea that the way you think about something can affect your physical response to it are particularly new, so it would make sense that the two are applicable to each other. For all of the grand statements she made, the talk was really just 15 minutes of not really saying much. I wouldn’t recommend the talk because, as I’ve said, it’s a 15 minute video that can be summarized into a couple of short sentences.

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