Mental Health

Information, Symptoms, Treatments and Resources


Stressed? Shift Your Perspective


Your mindset has a lot to do with how stress affects you 


By Brittany Doohan 


Stress is inevitable. The good news is that you have more control over how it affects you than you think. Amit Sood, MD, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester, MN, and the author of The Mayo Clinic Guide to Stress-Free Living, says the key to managing stress is shifting your perspective. “A healthier mindset can help prevent the effects of bad stress from lingering any longer than they have to,” Sood explains.

Sood and Kristen Lee Costa, EdD, LICSW, a behavioral practitioner in Boston and the author of the book RESET: Make the Most of Your Stress suggest using these strategies when dealing with stress:


  • Focus on what went right within what went wrong. “Almost always,” Sood explains, “things don’t go as badly as they possibly could.” Instead of being upset that you’re sick and have to miss work for a few days, be grateful that you caught your illness early and will be healthy again soon.
  • Look at the bigger picture. Sood says to ask yourself, “Will this matter 5 years from now?” If the answer is “no,” then don’t let the stressor disturb you now, either, he says.
  • Learn from past stressful events. There’s no way to fully eliminate stress from your life. But we can learn from it. “We can harness the adrenaline that comes with stress,” Costa says. With every stressful situation we face and overcome, we build resilience. This makes us better able to handle the next challenge down the road. Reflect on how you’ve conquered stressful events in your past, and use those same skills to tackle your current challenge.
  • Reframe how you see stress. Stress is a normal and healthy part of life. Remind yourself that finding a way to prevail in a stressful event only makes you stronger. Tweaking your mindset can help you see stress in a more positive light. This may even help you find a solution to the stressor.
  • Take care of yourself. It’s imperative to take care of yourself in the face of stress. Costa says that good self-care — eating right, exercising regularly and getting enough sleep — is crucial to helping you better navigate stress.


When you have a chronic condition or other long-term stressful situation, your feelings may be tougher to manage, even when you try these techniques. If you suspect that you might need more help dealing with your stress, talk to your doctor, who can help by referring you to a counselor or other mental health expert.  


Published on April 29, 2016.


Brittany Doohan is a health and lifestyle writer and editor in San Francisco. 


Reviewed by Shira Goldenholz, MD, MPH on June 22, 2015.
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