Last week we shared two strategies that can help you change your response to stress. They involved activating a different part of your brain (the more-evolved, executive part) so that you respond in more positive, helpful ways. Below are three more ideas to try.

Figure Out What You Control. Studies in both animals and humans show that our brains and bodies get more stressed out by uncontrollable, unpredictable events. The next time you feel stressed, try to find the parts of the situation that you can control and focus your energy there. Think of ways you can change or influence those things under your control and try to accept those things you cannot change.

Widen Your Perspective. When the primitive part of your brain triggers negative emotions, your thinking narrows. You are so busy avoiding the perceived threat (“fight or flight”), you can’t see the positive aspects of your life and you are unable to use creative problem-solving techniques. Instead, try to broaden your view and consider how the situation might be a growth opportunity or, at least, something you can learn from. Looking at the stressful situation this way puts your energy into finding a positive solution instead of making things worse.

Create a Learning Mindset. Instead of trying to avoid stress (which is nearly impossible), try focusing on what you gain from it. Ask yourself what lessons you can learn from the situation so you’ll be better prepared next time. Think about the skills you used to deal with the stress and the strengths you found in yourself. Accepting the fact that you will be stressed from time to time gives you the freedom to put your energy into positive solutions.

If you practice and incorporate these ideas into your thinking, you will change the way you respond to stressful times. Instead of banishing all stressful situations, you can actually learn and grow by changing the way you deal with them.

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