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How you view stressful situations may influence your health and wellbeing

man stressed

How you view stressful situations may influence your health and wellbeing

Researchers have found a link between how people view stressful situations and their mental health outcomes. People who view stressful situations as a challenge rather than a threat are more likely to report better mental health and physical well-being.

On the other hand, people who always see stressful situations as a threat are more likely to experience depression and lower degrees of happiness and wellness. This was the conclusion from a recent study by the University of Bath in the UK.

The results suggest that we can significantly alter our wellness outcomes by being mindful of how we mentally respond to stressful situations.

You see, viewing something as a threat is quite different from when you consider it a challenge. For instance, you are asked to give your first-ever public speech. You haven't done this before. If you consider it a challenge, your mind subconsciously tells you to prepare for it. In your mind, it's something you have to do, something you can do, but all you need is preparation and effort.

In contrast, a threat conveys a feeling of dread, danger, and harm. It's something beyond your ability. If you view giving a public speech in this manner, your natural response is likely one of overwhelm, fear, and anxiety. In your mind, it's a clear and present danger that no amount of preparation can overcome. All you can do is find ways to avoid or eliminate the danger.

While this difference in perception may have a lot to do with self-confidence, learning coping strategies can help you view stressful situations more favorably. And this can put you on a path to better health, happiness, and overall wellbeing.

"The more you're able to appraise a stressful situation as a challenge, the more likely you are to report good health and wellbeing," says study co-author Dr. Lee Moore from the Department for Health at Bath.

This is especially crucial for people in highly demanding work environments. Those who can view their tasks as an opportunity to develop themselves and improve their capacity often end up performing better, leading to more confidence, success, and happiness.

Others may continue in a perpetual state of poor performance, stress, and anxiety, which may culminate in depression.

It's normal to sometimes consider a stressful situation as a threat. The problem arises when this is your default, perpetual state.

More on the research here.

Need help?

If you are battling stress and anxiety, whether due to work or a chronic mental health disorder, we can help. We have a range of treatment methods and will recommend what's most suitable for your unique situation. Talk to us at Hope Mental Health today.

Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu Woodland is owner and clinician of Hope Mental Health, an integrative mental health practice located at Bown Crossing in Boise, Idaho. She sees children, adolescents, and adults.  Ms. Woodland with her background in nursing, prefers a holistic and integrative approach to mental health care that addresses the mind and body together. While Ms. Woodland provides medication management services in all her patients, she believes in long-lasting solutions that include a number of psychotherapies, namely cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure and response prevention therapy, attention to lifestyle, evidenced based alternative psychiatric care and spirituality. If you’d like to gain control over your mental health issues, call Hope Mental Health at 208-918-0958, or use the online scheduling tool to set up an initial consultation.

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