We’ve come to accept that stress is a natural part of our lives and so we’ve programmed ourselves to power through stressful situations rather than think of ways to reduce stress.
Instead of accepting that stress is a normal part of our lives or living in in a state of dependency on vacation, there are things we can do each day to lessen the impact of stressors on our lives.
One such thing is positive thinking. This may sound too simple too be true but you’re about to learn just how positive thinking can turn your life around.
Stress can come from directly from the situations in which we find ourselves, but it can also come from how we view those situations. Sometimes stress can come from how we look at things that don’t even directly affect us. As a result, learning to think positively can help reduce unnecessary stress in our lives. So, is it really that simple?
Ask “What Went Right?” As Well As “What Went Wrong?”
A study conducted at the University of Minnesota and published in The Academy of Management Journal found that just as positive events reduce stress, positive reflection can also reduce stress.
The study recommended that emphasis not only be placed on avoiding negative events but also in encouraging positive events. It also suggests that positive reflection could reduce stress and how it affects us.
In our current “team no sleep” hustle harder business culture, we tend to only celebrate wins so most reflection occurs when something goes wrong. While this does help to identify areas of potential improvement, we could probably all stand to devote a little more time to looking at why things that worked did work.
Not only would positive reflection help to improve services even when they are already working, it would also lead to less stressful environments.When your environment is less stressful, you’re able to handle things going wrong better.
Move On From Negative Experiences With Positive Ones
Stress is often caused by dwelling on things that have already come to pass. As a result, a significant amount of stress can be avoided by simply not thinking about things that have already happened, especially if they didn’t go well. But, is it enough to just forget?
According to a 2010 study published in the journal Cognition and Emotion, people have an easier time moving on from negative experiences if they have a positive experience that they can use to help replace the negative experience in their minds.
Another 2009 study published in the journal Behavior Research and Therapy found that while distraction is more mentally beneficial than rumination on a negative experience, it is not as beneficial as more positive interventions.
Similarly, other studies have found that while distraction causes some stress relief, it’s effects do not last long after the distraction ends.
Distraction can be a tempting method to move on from stress but that introduces the white bear effect. This principle suggests that if we are told not to think of a white bear, that is exactly what we are going to think of. Telling ourselves not to think of the white bear necessarily brings the white bear back to the front of our minds.
In order to move on from stressful situations that have already come to pass, seek out more positive experiences that will takeover the thoughts raging in your mind.
Ease Necessary Stresses with Positive Thinking
It’s important to realize that while studies have found that things like moving on from our stresses or thinking positively can help us to avoid stress, these methods should only be used when you are stressing over something that isn’t super important.
An example would be regretting having said the wrong thing to the cashier at the supermarket, or something that has already happened and that we cannot change like making a mistake at work last week. Don’t dwell on these things, simply move on to more positive experiences or choose more positive thoughts.
If something is still in the present, it’s not a good idea to ignore it. When you need to make decisions or respond to an unforeseen event in home or work life, quicker is better. That kind of stress needs to be dealt with and managed efficiently. So that you can move on to more positive experiences.
Stress is a natural and healthy part of life and whenever a stressful situation occurs in which we still have time to make the right decision or solve a problem you should meet that opportunity head on rather than trying to ignore your problems or find your happy place since it will not go away without being dealt with.
One great way to manage your stress when dealing with such a situation is to meditate.
Meditation does not need to be made into a complex science, but at its core involves focusing the mind on absolutely nothing beyond the immediate present. Anxiety surely worsens your stress burden, and meditation perfectly helps to eliminate worry of the future or past.
For beginners, guided meditations may help to lessen the fear of meditation and give the mind something to focus on.
Try these tips on managing stress to live a fuller, more positive life.