Stress can come 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. But, is it really that simple?
Ask "What Went Right?" As Well As "What Went Wrong?"
Just as positive events reduce stress, positive reflection can also reduce stress. Understandably we have a tendency to place emphasis on avoiding negative events but you also want to encourage positive events. One reason is because positive reflection will reduce stress more than negative reflection will.
In the current culture, something going well is what is expected and 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 situations even when they are already working, it would also lead to less stressful environments.
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.
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.
Even distraction is more mentally beneficial than rumination on a negative experience, it is still not as beneficial as more positive interventions. Because, 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 principal 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.
Accept Necessary Stresses
It's important to realize things like ignoring 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 of high importance. It's not a good idea to try to ignore or avoid stress that comes from the need to make decisions or respond to an unforeseen event in life. That kind of stress needs to be dealt with and managed, it won't simply go away.
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.
These tools are meant to be used to address stress when a situation occurs, but stress is just part of life, and can make you stronger and more resilient.
After all we heal better in a more positive environment, both internally and externally.