24In our last article from the stress management series we discussed some practices that can help you get through a rough day at work. Now let's examine some of the most important mindset factors that will make you stronger when dealing with stress.
 
Attitude of gratitude – I'm placing this one first, as I personally believe that this is the mindset that can change our entire life! Nothing is 100% black or white and what we choose to focus on is what will shape our whole world. I'm not saying that we should foolishly close our eyes for all the wrong things going on around us – no, that's stupid. What I'm saying is that we shouldn't forget that there are also many beautiful things happening all the time and they are the ones that will give us the physical and psychological strength to handle all the challenges, to fight for what's right and to win the toughest battles. Unfortunately there are many people out there, who sink deeper and deeper into their negativity and turn their lives into hell, alienating the ones around them and projecting nothing but misery and despair. No one wants to become one of them, so we have to be careful not to fall into the negativity trap. Develop a genuine attitude of gratitude – remember all the things that are great in your life and channel their power to overcome the problems that come up every now and then. Discipline your mind to focus on the things you are grateful for, the ones that motivate and inspire you and you will wire your mental filters to keep finding the positive. Remember that you choose how to view and shape your world. If you manage to build and sustain this general state of gratitude you'll radiate energy and positivity, you'll attract similar people with a can-do spirit, who will be able to aid you in critical situations and yes, you will manage to build a strong mental defense against high levels of stress. Because when you consciously look at the solutions and opportunities, at possible accomplishments and wins, you won't be left defenseless panicking about the hazards and threats. Additionally, on biological level the negative thoughts cause chemical reactions in the body that weaken our immune system and stress resilience, while positive thoughts do exactly the opposite: they cause the central nervous system to produce specific neuropeptides that strengthen the body. Much like the next factor:
 
Sense of Humor – not only can it contribute to a pleasant work environment, but it can also help us deal with stress on multiple levels. A good laughter improves the air-intake and stimulates many organs – the heart, the lungs, the muscles. It increases the endorphin levels in the body, while reducing the stress hormones like adrenalin and cortisol. It improves the mood and leads to physical and emotional relaxation. Most importantly humor can effectively replace destructive emotions as guilt, anger and fear in stressful scenarios. If we manage to laugh at the problem it becomes a lot less intimidating and therefore – manageable. So if we find the irony of our own problematic situation and have a good laugh about it we'll be one step closer to solving it (while trying to do the same for other people might prove to be dangerous :-)). A good sense of humor can also help us improve our social relationships, which are another factor we're going to examine:
 
Social life – according to a study by the University of Texas at Austin, both the quantity and quality of social relationships affect the mental and physical health, the health behavior and even the mortality risk. Read more here. Also, as we mentioned in our previous article, feeling alone is one of the major stress factors, while your social network is one of the most powerful tools for dealing with stress. Sharing your concerns with people you trust, feeling their support and getting an objective outer perspective might cool you down and give you the needed perception of strength and ability to deal with the challenge. If you use this wisely and don't overburden your network with your own problems, you can deepen these relationships, based on mutual support. This will also make the sharing of successes a lot more rewarding.
 
Now you have all the necessary justification to go out and have fun with some friends! :-)
 
Stay tuned for more practices and perspectives on stress management in our next articles.
 
Best regards,
Nikolay

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