From the Upside of Stress by Kelly McGonigal PhD People respond to stimulus based on their beliefs and expectations about it. Perceptions change our bodily responses. Can stress be positive if we expect a positive response?

Recently I have felt my brain chemistry change. I have felt my emotional state alter as depression and stress crept in and my mood became more vulnerable. I have felt broken down. I slept several days in a row, more hours than are good for me. I considered quitting the next stage of my life before I tried it. I disbelieved in my abilities, felt unhinged, did things that were out of my usual normal, and I lost connections that matter a lot to me.

I had a very sad talk with my father in which I seemed to guide the conversation into a really dark dis-empowered place. I felt as if he and most everyone else, is unwilling to invest hopefulness into my future, due to my mental illness and common response of quitting. I had a similar talk with my mother. I remember in my early 20's I felt pressures that were external that said achieve, do something amazing. Lately I have felt sad because I don't think anyone in the world wants me to achieve great things with my life, except for maybe me.

So when my brain starts going into unhappy zone, and when I feel bogged down by how I think about my abilities, I have felt the impact of a negative mindset, at least lately. Until this morning. I guess what changed this morning was when I woke up, I was talking with myself about gratitude. I deeply was grateful because yesterday I did two things that many people could not do, because of bad health. 1. I went to the dentist and got a clean bill of health. 2. I donated blood for the gazillion-th time.

Maybe these are just basic common occurrences, but in my world, health is more important than wealth or fame. "When you have a more positive view of growing older, you are more apt to do things that benefit yourself over time." McGonigal So this morning I woke up with hope, thinking I will maybe live old like my grandmother who made it to 92, or my great-grandmother who lived to 102.

So how am I thinking about stress? My mindset is changing. I have been feeling a breakdown of a positive mindset this past couple of months, but it doesn't have to be the story of my life. In fact, I learned several lessons this year that I could not have learned without the brief stint in the job that I quit suddenly.

So what have I recently learned? 1. The difference I am seeing between successful introverts and struggling ones like me, is that successful introverts talk to others and go into public when they are feeling their best. So if I learn to not go out and talk to others, not to make phone calls, or not to immerse myself among others when I feel bad, I could overcome a good chunk of my illness/negative disposition. 2. Along those lines, I need boundaries that I set, so that when I feel pushed I can say no solidly. But if I don't have it in me to say no solidly, I do have a second option. I an always just kill a grandparent.

One of my favorite people in the world once told me about grandparent killing in the face of excuse needing. She said she was impressed that I graduated from Berea without lying about reasons for doing things, but that I don't have to feel bad about making up some excuses. I think she had a point. Specifically, she said I should kill grandparents as much as I want, when I need an off day. This goes with the first finding, I don't necessarily need to explain my depression when I feel low. All I need to do is draw myself out of the bad situation until I feel better. Hence, say my grandparent died, and do it as much as I want. In fact, killing multiple grandparents in one week can add extra space. I know this sounds morbid, but all my grandparents really are dead, so it might be better.

  1. If I start withdrawing emotionally, I need to just go home. Even if I feel like verbally fighting, or whatever I feel is the best way forward, I am better off just retreating for a while.
  2. If I feel I am becoming unhinged, I need to find help somewhere, even if I think the world seems to not care or think I am wrong, stupid, or impossible to help. Chances are that is not what actually is happening. 5. Everything bad that happens to me can become a building block for improvement. 6. Tomorrow is always another day.