Decrease stress by changing your mindset

Decreasing Stress by Changing Your Mindset

Stress is a part of our everyday lives. It is unavoidable. So, how we manage stress is important as it goes a long way in determining our mental and physical wellbeing. There are many different strategies for managing stress. One of them is through a change in mindset. What does this mean and how can this approach help to reduce stress? Read on and find out.

What is Stress?

Stress is the body’s response to any type of challenge. It refers to changes that cause physical, emotional or psychological strain.1 Stress is very common and we all experience stress. However, how we respond to stress is what really matters.1

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Causes of Stress

Stress affects different people in different ways. What causes stress in one person, may not cause stress in another.2 Common causes of stress include difficulties at work or in our personal lives and relationships, unexpected life changes like losing a job, moving house or having a baby. Others include financial problems, health issues or feeling lonely and unsupported.2

Effects of Stress 

Stress in itself is not a bad thing. In fact, a little bit of stress helps us to perform better and to protect ourselves. However, too much stress is harmful as it can overwhelm the body leading to a fight, flight or freeze response.1 Excess stress can lead to fear, worry, increased heart rate, difficulty in breathing and inability to relax. It can also cause poor sleep, change in sleep and eating patterns as well as difficulty concentrating.1

Other physical symptoms of stress are:3

  • Aches and pains
  • High blood pressure
  • Muscle tension
  • Stomach and digestive problems
  • Weak immunity
  • Difficulty having sex

In some people, stress can lead to worsening of pre-existing health conditions, both physical and mental. It can affect mood and relationships with other people, causing anxiety, irritability and low self-esteem.2 Too much stress might also cause some individuals to start to use or increase their intake of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.1 Experiencing high amounts of stress over a long period can lead to physical, mental and emotional exhaustion, which is known as burnout.2

Coping Mechanisms for Stress

Coping with stress allows us to become resilient and better able to adapt to life changes such as unemployment.1

Some helpful strategies for coping with stress include1:

  • Maintaining a daily routine
  • Sleeping adequately
  • Creating new and maintaining existing social connections
  • Eating healthy
  • Exercising regularly
  • Meditating
  • Limiting time spent following the news both on television and social media

Other ways of coping with stress are as follows2:

  • Splitting up big tasks and setting goals
  • Practicing positive thinking
  • Talking with friends, family and colleagues when we are struggling
  • Planning ahead

Reducing Stress by Changing Your Mindset

Changing how we think about stress can help reduce stress by targeting it at its source.4 Other coping mechanisms for stress like exercise and meditation, help reduce anxiety and calm the nerves. However, they do not address the cognitive causes of stress within the brain.4 By developing the right mindset about stress, we can make stress beneficial. We are then, able to view life challenges as opportunities to grow and improve and not stressors that worsen our health and wellbeing.

Research studies have shown that people who believe that stress is helpful, are generally more satisfied in life, less depressed and more productive.5 They also exude more confidence in dealing with life challenges and find more meaning in their struggles of life.5

So, how do you change your mindset to reduce stress? Here are some useful tips:

  • Take charge of your thoughts, turning them away from feelings of helplessness toward empowerment5
  • Take action by mentally planning one thing to do about the problem. Then act on it and complete that one task, no matter how small. Finishing that task can create a positive ripple effect towards more control5
  • Have a meaningful conversation with a friend, family member or colleague. This gives you an opportunity to talk about your feelings relating to stress instead of bottling them up5
  • Shift your focus from what is lacking to what is abundant. By practicing gratitude on a regular basis, you learn to guard yourself against stress.6

If you're interested in learning more about stress management and other lifestyle habits for a longer, healthier life, download our app today!

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  1. WHO (2021). Stress. World Health Organisation.,to%20your%20overall%20well%2Dbeing.
  2. NHS (2022). Feeling stressed? Better Health. Every mind matters.
  3. Cleveland Clinic (2021). Stress.
  4. Derler A. & Dixit J. (2021). The surprising power of growth mindset in reducing stress. Your Brain at Work. NeuroLeadership Institute.
  5. Niemiec R. (2019). Tackle stress with a new mindset. The science of strengths. The practice of well-being. VIA Institute of Character.
  6. Elizabeth D. (2021). 6 ways to reduce stress with positive thinking. Wild Simple Joy.

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