Stress Reducer #3: Shift Your Perspective with Gratitude and OptimismResearch shows that optimists finish first. It’s not just that people who have good things happen to them tend to be more optimistic—optimists experience the same stressors that pessimists experience, but they tend to feel less stressed. There are other benefits to optimism, too, that make this habitual thought pattern a powerhouse stress reducer:
- Health: Optimists tend to stay healthier, and get sick less often. This could be due to their tendency to stress less—stress is linked with immunity--or perhaps it’s linked with an optimist’s tendency to be proactive (and, thus take better care of their body).
- Perspective: Optimists are less reactive to stress because they see things differently. One very important factor that determines how stressful a situation seems to be, is whether it’s perceived as a threat or a challenge. Threats tend to trigger our stress responses and put us in a state of reduced creativity and greater tension; challenges tend to engage our creative problem-solving abilities as well as our motivation. Optimists see stressors as challenges.
- Success: Optimists see opportunities where pessimists see losses, so they remain more hopeful and less stressed, and they are able to turn negatives into positives.
- Changes: Optimists are more likely to believe they can make changes, so they try more often, and actually do make more changes and meet more challenges. This is a key ingredient to their success. By becoming an optimist, therefore, you may be able to make other stress reducer habits stick more easily.
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