We experience stress when pressure exceeds our ability to cope.  This is a really interesting article from the BPS on “stress mindset”.  People with a “positive” stress mindset – you believe  stressful challenges can lead to positive outcomes, such as learning and achievement – are more likely to come up with coping strategies than those with a “negative” stress mindset who see stress as unpleasant and debilitating.  (NB these findings refer to one-off events rather than long term continuous stress).  

It seems that we can turn around a negative mindset to a positive mindset.  One suggestion that I definitely won’t be following is to watch a horror movie before taking on a stressful challenge!

However, here are some Dos and Don’ts from the article that can help develop a positive stress mindset:


  • Remind yourself of your strengths and previous success
  • Ask your partner to send you a supportive text (but not one with advice)
  • Visualise your partner


  • Use self-defeating humour or self-discounting statements
  • Think about the negative consequences of failure

More tips in How to Get On with Anyone, Chapter 16 “Enhancing your Self-Confidence”.