Most of us have heard and believe that stress has a major negative effect on the body.
But new research shows we need to rethink how important our mind is in determining the effects of stress on our health and energy.
What do you believe? Is stress a debilitating factor in your life or does it somehow enrich your existence – enhancing your health and productivity?
New research shows whatever you believe determines your stress effect.
If you have a negative point of view about what may be considered to be “stressful” it will have a negative effect on you. But if your mindset is positive, “stress” can actually improve your health and effectiveness.
How to Deal with Stress in Seven Steps
You may be surprised by some of these seven steps to relieve stress.
Even if you learn from just one of them, you’ll be much better able to manage those fears, upsets, anxieties, worries and other preoccupations that can take a heavy toll on your mental and physical health.
1. Alter your conversation about stress.
Researchers have known that no event is inherently stressful. What makes one person feel stressed can make another person feel good. Now new studies on the stress “mindset” have made startling new discoveries.
The effects of stress are dependent on what you believe about stress.
Yale researchers found that if you have a negative mindset about stress and believe stress saps your energy and damages your health, then that’s exactly the debilitating effect stress will have on you. No surprise!
But if your stress mindset is positive and you believe stress is a healthy challenge that enhances your performance and productivity and actually makes you healthier, then that’s the stress effect you’ll experience.
So, if you want to handle stress effectively, the first step is not to label stress as a bad thing. Learn to look at stress with a positive mindset.
2. Cultivate the Pollyanna point of view.
Pollyanna played a game of finding something to be grateful for in every situation. If that seems too difficult, focus on whatever you’re grateful for. An attitude of gratitude is one of the best ways to relieve stress.
3. Develop a genuine sunny disposition.
Studies show that a negative “Debbie Downer” personality, (as opposed to the Pollyanna approach), not only drives others away, but the anxiety actually causes more stressful situations to show up in your life.
4. Start taking more control of your life.
A Harvard study discovered that leaders had significantly lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol and experienced less stress and anxiety.
The research team attributed this discovery to the stress-buffering effect of having a greater sense of control. So step #4 is to take charge of as many things as possible in your life and avoid having a victim mentality.
5. Practice healthy habits and activities.
Make sure you eat healthy, exercise and get enough rest. Also consider relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation, which have been shown to relieve stress. Plus, effective time management helps reduce stress too.
6. Wake up on the right side of the bed.
It should be no surprise that starting your day in a bad mood leads you to feel more stressed. But it has also been shown to cause you to interpret whatever happens to you throughout the day more negatively.
So do whatever it takes to wake up in a good mood, or at least leave your bad mood in bed, no matter which side of the mattress you wake up on.
7. Set aside time to relax and enjoy life.
While developing a positive stress mindset and healthy habits make a huge difference for getting through the more challenging times in life, relaxation, healthy relationships and having fun are also vitally important.
So make sure you set aside time to relax and do the things you enjoy.
Change Your Mind Change Your Stress
To sum it up, these new studies prove that, to a large degree, stress is in the mind of the beholder. If you have a negative stress mindset, you believe stress is detrimental and should be avoided, which is impossible.
But if your mindset is positive, you believe that stress can enhance your performance, increase your energy and actually make you healthier.
By changing your mindset, you reverse any negative stress effects. So once you start to take control over the stress in your life, your mood, productivity, relationships and physical health will all naturally improve.
More Commonsense Health for You:
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Hogh, A., Hansen, Å. M., Mikkelsen, E. G., & Persson, R. Journal of Psychosomatic Research. Exposure to negative acts at work, psychological stress reactions and physiological stress response. J Psychosom Res. 2012;73(1):47-52. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2012.04.004.
Rothbard, N. P., & Wilk, S. L. Academy of Management Journal. Waking up on the right or wrong side of the bed: Start-of-workday mood, work events, employee affect, and performance. Acad Manage J. 2011;54(5), 959-980. doi: 10.5465/amj.
Gleason, M. E. J., Powers, A. D., & Oltmanns, T. F. Journal of Abnormal Psychology. The enduring impact of borderline personality pathology: Risk for threatening life events in later middle-age. J Abnorm Psychol. 2012;121(2):447-57. doi: 10.1037/a0025564.
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Petersen H, Kecklund G, D’Onofrio P, Nilsson J, Åkerstedt T. Journal of Sleep Research. Stress vulnerability and the effects of moderate daily stress on sleep polysomnography and subjective sleepiness. J Sleep Res. 2013;22(1):50-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2869.2012.01034.x.