In my mind, one of the best ways to manage stress is to focus on the positive, rather than negative, aspects of a stressful situation, as well as your life in general. Few people realize that there are actually two forms of stress – distress is the chronic, negative, overwhelming form we most often associate with the term, while eustress is positive stress that we use to take positive action and make positive changes. Most stressful situations can be turned into something positive with a little bit of focus and determination. For example, if you are stressed about a tight deadline at work, you can turn the situation into something positive by challenging yourself to work more efficiently to get the job done. It’s also important to surround yourself with positive thoughts about both the stressful situation and the rest of your day. Two ways to do so are by following the Positivity Ratio and by keeping a positivity calendar.
The Positivity Ratio states that for every one negative thought you have about a person or situation, you should also think of three positive thoughts. If you have the unfortunate job of telling a coworker they did something wrong, follow that conversation up with three things that they’re doing right. You’ll shift your focus away from only thinking about the negatives and will help spread a little positivity to your coworker as well.
As for the positivity calendar, the premise behind it is simple – every day, challenge yourself to write down (on a calendar, journal, or a piece of paper) at least one good thing that happened to you. It doesn’t have to be a life-changing event – your “positive” for the day could be something as basic as getting a seat on the subway or bus. The goal is to have a visual reminder of all the good things that happen to you, which will help take your mind off of anything negative that might be occurring. I’ve kept a positivity calendar, and have challenged my friends and family to do the same, so I can tell you first-hand that it’s easy to do, and it really works to help erase negative thoughts.
We don’t always have control over our stressors, but we do have control over our thoughts. It’s up to you to try and make the most out of a bad situation; remember, a little positivity can go a long way!