3 ways to shift your mindset to cope with stress

If you think back to even a few months ago, I’m sure none of us would have predicted the current COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on the state of the world. We are experiencing change and stress like nothing else, especially those of us working on the front line. If you’ve read our article ‘Can Our Minds Protect Us From Getting Sick?’ you’ll know that our mindset can impact our physical wellbeing and even leave us more vulnerable to illness. The good news is there are a few mindset shifts that we can all make to help us be more prepared to tackle what the world throws at us!  

1. Focus on what is within your control 

In times like these it can be difficult to not worry about all the possible things that could go wrong or how the situation might get worse. The thing is, have you ever felt better after thinking endlessly about worries? Generally when we worry endlessly we end up feeling worse than before, a more productive thing to do is to focus on the things that we can actually influence. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take out a notepad and write down all of the worries that you can think of. Now, circle those that you can do something about and write a to-do list of these things. You may need to be creative, for example, say you’re worried about your overwhelming workload but you’re not able to change that at the moment, you may be able to ask your family or partner for some help at home to take pressure off. 

2. Remember that the situation is temporary 

It’s easy to get caught up in worry and start to think that things will never get better. In these times its important to remind yourself that this situation WILL end, its only temporary. Professor Martin Seligman, the founder of positive psychology, suggests that optimists view negative situations as temporary and specific. They believe that defeat is a temporary setback and it is confined only to this case, meaning when bad things happen they know its not forever and it doesn’t mean that things will always be bad. In contrast pessimists view bad events as lasting a long time and believe it will continue to be bad. When you start to feel hopeless, remind yourself it’s not forever and things WILL get better. 

3. Look to create positive moments

Just because we are stuck in a bad situation doesn’t mean it’s all terrible. Look for any opportunity to create or notice some joy. It might be watching the sunrise while you drink your coffee, or doing something kind for someone else. Research has shown that doing something kind for someone else actually boosts our own happiness. Try to savor these moments of joy where you can, they will act as a buffer against stress. 
Finally, remember that it’s okay to have off days when dealing with all of this, you can’t get it perfect all of the time and most of us are dealing with a lot at the moment. If you need to shed a corona virus related tear, go for it. Once you’ve allowed yourself to feel your feelings you can remember the tips above to help you get through it! 

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