It’s that time of year again. Kids are out of school, you’re planning vacation time, visiting family and family’s visiting you. And you still have your regular obligations to take care of on top of it all.

I’m not talking about the end of year holidays. I’m talking about summer. With so many similarities you’d think summer would be just as stressful, but it’s not.

I believe that perception is the reason why. Perception plays a bigger part in stress management than most of us realize. Have you ever noticed how something can be stressful to one person but not to another? For example, one person may find moving (or changing jobs, getting on a plane, looking at a tarantula, etc.) stressful, while another may not.

Our brains perceive situations, make interpretations about it, add meaning to it based on our previous experience and beliefs and the end result is our reaction. Our reaction can be distressful or not depending on how we perceive the situation.

But, remember, stress can be positive too. If your reaction to a situation is to become focused, attentive, motivated and ready to try harder and do your best, than you’ve experienced the positive side of stress.

The good news is that you can change negative stress to positive stress by changing your perception. Start by challenging your interpretations and beliefs. For example, does moving have to be a source of negative stress? Not if you focus on the potentials that await you. Does looking at a tarantula have to be distressful? If it’s a picture or in a glass cage at the zoo, focus on its harmlessness rather than what it can do to you.

Perception is everything. It’s in your control, which means the kind of stress you experience (positive or negative) is under your control too. Take control now.

Contributed by: AIS Fellow, Sandra Thebaud, Ph.D., author of The Art of Loving Life and founder of Paramount Transitions