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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Crum, A. J., Salovey, P., & Achor, S. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
Rethinking stress: The role of mindsets in determining the stress
response. J Pers Soc Psychol. 2013;104(4):716-33. doi: 10.1037/a0031201.
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:
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.
Chu, K. H., Baker, M. A., & Murrmann, S. K. (2012). International Journal of Hospitality Management.
When we are onstage, we smile: The effects of emotional labor on
employee work outcomes. Int J Hosp Manag. 2012;31(3),906-915. doi:
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.