The Upside Of Stress

July 20th, 2015


About a month ago I was scanning the bookshelves at my favorite bookstore, The Tattered Cover HERE, just a few blocks from my home.  I was looking for a new book by Gretchen Rubin which was about changing life habits.  I’m always seeking new ways to improve the quality of my life and Style Crone has always been about transition, transformation, aging and the life affirming benefits of creativity and style.


In the process of my search, my gaze landed on The Upside of Stress by Kelly McGonigal, and as I read though the quotes by authors (including Gretchen Rubin) who wrote in praise of the book on the back cover, I sensed that it was just what I was looking for.  Recently available for purchase, it includes new and cutting edge research on the benefits of stress, and “why stress is good for you and how to get good at it.”


I finished the book a few weeks ago and have been practicing the simple recommendations to change my belief and mindset about stress.  It has completely changed my perceptions regarding stress and its effects on my body and brain.  New information thrills me, especially when small shifts can revolutionize a life pattern.


In the past I worried about the toxic effects of stress and how it impacted my health. I was fearful about the release of the hormone cortisol HERE and its negative influence on my immune system.  I was concerned about the shortening of my telomeres HERE, and how that affected my longevity.  Everything that I believed about stress was negative.

However, according to Dr. McGonigal, Stanford psychologist and award-winning teacher, the only thing that is negative about stress is believing that it is harmful. Changing one’s mindset (the power of beliefs to shape reality) and embracing stress may be the key to well-being.  Her TED talk HERE reveals this brilliant woman’s theories about the potential and benefits of rethinking stress.


I have been faithfully following the practices that she recommends to change my belief system.  I simply allow myself to acknowledge my stress when I experience it, welcome it by recognizing that it’s a response to something I care about, and use the energy that stress and anxiety give me to do something immediately that reflects my goals and values (paraphrased from Dr. McGonigal’s book).

Obviously this is a simplification of the information that is included in the review of the research that is included in the book and what this approach can do to change how we deal with stress, but so far I have been impressed with the results.  I’m intrigued by this adjustment in thinking and how it can produce positive change in my life.

unnamed (1) copy

Photos By Daniel

Speaking of change, the above photos are the result of a one month outgrowth of white hair beneath the red.  So far I’m excited about this transition and enjoying the process.  More to come!

Multi-colored floral harem pants – boutique in Paris, black top – yard sale, vintage blue hat with rhinestones and feather trim – hat shop in the 80’s, jewelry – estate sales, black platform sandals – retail sale.

26 Responses to “The Upside Of Stress”

  1. Susan

    I have often thought the only thing to do about stress is embrace it. There is denial but when I embrace it I hope that it quickly goes away.

  2. Patti

    Oh hurray for the lovely silver hair peeking out! It is an exciting process isn’t it? And thanks for sharing the themes of this book – it sounds like one I will read soon, and try to apply. I too have regarded stress as a negative force in my life. You trousers are magnificent, btw! xox

  3. Jody

    I love to see your transformation to silver hair; it will only enhance your already dynamic style. One interesting consequence for me of aging out of auburn hair to silver is that my new coloring inspires me to wear a cooler palette than the earth tones of my earlier years. I’ll be intrigued to see how your new hair color will influence the colors you choose over time. I agree with Patti’s comment above that your trousers are magnificent.

  4. Susan (une femme)

    Those trousers are gorgeous! Love that print.

    I’m going to have to find and read that book! Between our jobs and some other changes/transitions in the works (positive, but major) we’ve both been feeling under stress. Some strategies for managing it and using it would be welcome!

  5. Cheryl Tucker

    What a wonderful post! I too have believed stress was bad for me and probably caused negative impact by how strong I believe(d) this. I will definitely read this book. I am interested in how aging and the ability to manage stress is viewed. I feel like as I age stress effects me more negatively. Sometimes the smallest thing can tip me over the edge (slight embellishment) but you know what I mean. Love your outfit! I watch my grey and told my stylist that as soon as I am grey enough I will let it go. I think grey and the different variations of grey is beautiful! Sorry for the long post! Peace! Cheryl

  6. Pam@over50feeling40

    You are so cute! I love these pants! Lately, all I seem to do is manage stress because I do not want it to age me.

  7. Danielle

    I have just turned 46 and have never colored my hair. It’s long, curly and medium-dark blond. Over the past few years, some white has started to come in, mostly in a streak at the right front. I actually part it there now, so people can see more of the white.

    I love white/silver/grey hair. I always have considered it to be the most beautiful of hair colors. I am happy that my hair has started to turn this lovely shade.

    It will be dramatic, perhaps not what you’ve been used to (you look very good with red hair), but there is nothing more dramatic in my opinion than grey hair.

  8. Shirley McKellar


    I find that the things that stress me the most usually work themselves out without any help from me. I have come to realize after 65+ years that stress often helps us analyze and think things through, resulting in resolution in most cases. I have also learned that stressing about things I have no control over is a waste of time and energy which can be used in more productive ways.

    Also, I love your trousers!. It is fun trying youthful styles in a gracious and tasteful manner. I do so myself and get a lot of compliments, which encourages me that much more.

    As far as the transition in hair color, I had red hair for 25 years and decided to go natural in my early fifties. Colored it one more time for a few months and regretted it. I had to go through the transition a second time, which I wish I never had to do. My hair is now a white silver and I love it. I have never regretted it and often get compliments from young people as well as older piers. I am sure you will look beautiful. The transition in colors you wear will com along with it.

    Good luck. I really enjoy your blog! Keep up the interesting features.

  9. Beverley

    Your harem pants are gorgeous. The two kimonos you recently modeled were beautiful, too. It is fascinating how your clothes frequently complement your garden. You have a great eye for color.

  10. Arlene Mesner

    What a great post Judith. You look beautiful in your colorful harem pants. You will look great when your hair grows out too. I have been thinking about doing the same pretty soon. I love your comments on stress and feel that as I get older I become less and less reactive to stressful situations and am able to let it go much quicker! Have to check out that book too. Thanks again.

  11. No Fear of Fashion

    Well, you know what the buddhists say: “it is not the events themselves that matter but the way you handle them”. This approach sounds similar. I will have a look at the TED speech (always nice).
    Again I didn’t recognize you without a hat haha. So funny.
    The harem trousers are fantastic. I would have bought them too.


    Most interesting dear Judith.
    I love your hair and how fabulous you look without hat.

  13. Melanie

    Yes, I believe what you and the book say about stress. I believe in the positive aspects of rage as well. Stress and rage can be great triggers for meaningful thought and expression if we turn them outward – sometimes easier said than done. heh.
    I love what you’re wearing, and your sandals look so cool – temperature-wise and style-wise. Your hair transition is exciting. Hee hee, I like seeing that silver/white.

  14. Vix

    What a fabulous head of hair you have under your hats, Judith. The colour transition must be a thrill.
    Loving the trousers.
    A little stress can be a good thing but too much is deadly. xxx

  15. Accidental Icon

    What an interesting post! I have very negative ideas about stress and have actually come to fear good situations that may cause potential stress because they involve ever more work. The result is I don’t enjoy the good thing! I am buying this book immediately!!!! I love the harem pants and am excitedly following the grey transition.

    Accidental icon

  16. Shelley

    I’ve learned that if I am feeling stressed then I need to look at what is going on in my life that needs to be dealt with or changed. As I age, I find that I don’t get stressed out about very much any more – I’ve learned that things usually work themselves out, and I would rather put the energy into addressing whatever needs to be done to have the best outcome.

    That hat makes your eyes look soooo blue! I have a pair of silk harem pants that are my favourite thing to wear on really hot days. I love the pair you’re wearing!

  17. Curtise

    Stress is all about perception, isn’t it? If we see the circumstances we are in or the pressure we are under as overwhelmingnd out of our control, while at the same time viewing our ability to cope with the situation as inadequate, then we are likely to feel stress. And likewise view it as unpleasant and negative. As with many things, if we can change how we think about it, we can change how we feel. But as is often the case, it’s easier said than done!
    Fantastic harem pants, Judith, and I am looking forward to following your hair adventures as you move from auburn to silver! xxx

  18. chicatanyage

    Great video I loved it thank you for sharing it I am going to forward it on to my daughter. It is similar to the mindful meditation I follow and the NLP training I did some years ago in that whatever you believe to be true is true. You certainly look good on it whatever you are doing.

  19. Anonymous

    I love reading about life changes in people (older) like myself. I love your
    white hair. I let mine grow natural awhile ago and receive lots of compliments. It
    is so much easier to care for too!! You will be amazed at how growing your hair out can simplify your life!! Good for you!

  20. pao

    I almost didn’t recognize you sans chapeau! Oh, and I’m off to get that book. There has to be a better way than cat naps as needed. How many can one do in a day? Plenty, I tell you. Your harem pants are just the bee’s knees. I’ll have to make some, but it’s the pattern and color, fabric and you in them that does it. Kudos to graying hair too.

  21. cherie james

    Wow, the timing of your post is so fitting for where I am in my life. I have always been under the impression that it was harmful. I love the fact that you should try and embrace it – love that. I’m already looking at it differently – thank you!

    On another note, I love that you are growing your hair to it’s natural grey. I can’t wait to see the finished product. And, I love your harem pants – very very cool! You look fabulous Judith.

  22. beef girl

    I have always felt exactly as you about the effects of stress….who else worries about the length of their telomeres??? Now, I am getting this book. Oh, and your hair will be/ is currently beautiful.

  23. Jean @ DrossintoGold

    Haven’t ordered my copy yet, but will soon!! It totally makes sense to me. Your trousers are utterly delicious and I love how you chose to pick up that glorious shade of blue with the hat.

    Thinking of you and sending much love!!!

  24. LA Contessa

    THIS IS GREAT NEWS as I AM A worry wart!
    As per the norm you LOOK FABULOUS!
    Sorry I am so late to the post birthday took OVER and I am SO behind in my emails!!!

  25. Paris Rendez-Vous and Beyond

    Oh I do love your red hair!!!!!!!! You look so beautiful with it. Are you sure????

    Interesting comments about stress and its effects. But, I agree, it is all about one’s frame of mind isn’t it?

    Keep gorgeous!



  26. Anna Parkes

    Hello again, Judith. I’m working my way through your posts in a very random manner. But maybe not so random after all. I’m a huge fan of Gretchen’s book “The Happiness project” and wrote to thank her for it, as it was the catalyst for me starting my blog. I will follow up your recommendations from today as, like you, I always thought stress was a bad thing. I do in fact suffer from a stress related disease and have written at length about it on my health page, so this new slant on the subject will be enlightening I’m sure. And finally, most important of all, I love these pants. I bought some harem pants this summer but they are very reserved compared to these flamboyant lovelies! You look amazing. And you still have red hair here (the first time I’ve seen this), but honestly you are beautiful no matter what colour your hair is x

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