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In the journals

Need help staying positive during trying times? Live more in the moment, but also focus on how to cope with future stresses. This advice comes from a study published online March 25, 2020, by Personality and Individual Differences.

Researchers explored two factors in how people handle stress: mindfulness and proactive coping. Mindfulness is when people live in the moment rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. Proactive coping is when people make efforts to reduce the effect stress has on them.

In the study, researchers looked at how 223 people responded to daily stress. Everyone completed a survey to show how they engage in positive coping. Examples included “I visualize my dreams and try to achieve them” and “I try to take care of little problems before they become big problems.”

To measure mindfulness, the group filled out daily questionnaires that recorded how often they stayed in the present moment during the day. Examples of not being present, which suggests low levels of mindfulness, included “It seems I am ‘running on automatic,’ without much awareness of what I’m doing,” and “I forget a person’s name almost as soon as I’ve been told it for the first time.” The participants also reported on their daily stress levels and negative moods.

Participants who engaged in both proactive coping and high mindfulness were more resilient against daily stressors compared with those who performed only one. While excelling in both areas is a challenge, the researchers noted that to best manage stress, you need the combination of living in the moment and focusing on how to cope with future stresses.

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Harvard Men’s Health Watch


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