Reducing stress with a positive mindset

Our brains are hard-wired for the negative, it’s called the negativity bias. From an evolutionary perspective, being wired to notice danger kept us safe from predators. In the modern world that bias can be a cause of stress.

These are some of the daily habits that I use to develop a positivity bias, essential in today’s ever evolving workplace:

Grab the Good

Beat your negativity bias and grab the good. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Start to take notice of the good stuff that happens in your life.
  2. Really savour it and be grateful for the good stuff.
  3. Focus on HOW you can get more of this good stuff in your life.

Stability Zones

Stability Zones are the places, people, ideas, groups or things you have around you that make you feel safe, secure and confident. It’s helpful to think of them as buffers to stress against the outside world. Identify your Stability Zones, nurture them and appreciate as they are an effective way to manage pressure and stress.

  1. Identify your Stability Zones. Think about the people, pets, places, things and groups you have around you. Try to think broadly and be honest. If one of your things is your favourite teddy and you’re 45, that’s ok. Stability zones are personal to you.
  2. Now work out which ones you should nurture. The danger here is that you invest your time in your temporary stability zones, and you rely on something that is not always going to be there.

Recognise and use your strengths

Research shows that using your strengths in small ways is key to finding confidence and happiness, using them increases your reserves of positivity and builds better relationships too.

Think about the things that you are good at and the strengths you bring to relationships. Perhaps you are a good listener, a good organiser, or a useful person to be around in a crisis because you can offer a good perspective. A great way to develop your positive mindset is to look at how you have used your strengths and find more ways of using them in the days to come.

Focusing on your strengths can feel a little strange at first, as we tend to focus on our weaknesses. But it’s well worth it if you put the time and energy into it.

Final thoughts

When it comes to your work, your colleagues and even your loved ones, you are wired to notice the negative things around you. Negativity and bad news make a bigger impact on your brains. Assuming the worst in a situation kept us alive. It’s evolutionary. Back in the days when survival meant spotting the ‘sabre-toothed tiger,’ this negativity bias kept us safe. 

This survival mechanism is not something you can just switch off and has the potential to switch on your stress response. Taking steps to establish habits for a positivity bias will go a long way to reducing that stress response.

Katy Grady

Learning Manager, RBC Wealth Management

Take the Lead is a free employability programme from The Old Vic for students aged 15–18. This programme is created in collaboration with schools and businesses and draws on The Old Vic’s expertise as a theatrical institution to support young people to take ownership over their next steps after school and prepare them for the working world of the future.