via Positive Psychology News Daily by Jenny Brennan

The global COVID-19 pandemic, the fight for racial justice, and a divisive American election have left many people feeling stressed and uncertain. While this may be an appropriate reaction to what is happening, the fact that we all have powerful inner resources called character strengths can help us cope with adversity. Thus, strengths can be a source of hope.

Character strengths are ways of thinking and behaving that come naturally to people. Researchers have identified twenty-four strengths such as Social Intelligence, Bravery, Curiosity, and Honesty that represent the best human qualities and are valued across cultures and time.  When people use their strengths, they feel energized, competent, and in tune with their values.  Using character strengths can expand their ability to think and act in ways that buffer them from stress. 

Reframe Stress

One way that character strengths might support coping is by helping people reframe stress.  According to health psychologist Kelly McGonigal, the way people think about stress influences how it impacts their well-being. Stress can make people believe that there is a threat that they cannot handle. However, McGonigal suggests that if people instead think about stress as a motivating force that helps them protect the things they care about, then it can “awaken core human strengths involving courage, connection, and growth.”

But how do we do that?  First, we can become more aware of our beliefs about stress by using Self-regulation and Curiosity to practice mindfulness. When people are mindful, they observe their emotions without judgment.  For instance, instead of saying,  “I am so stressed!” a person might say, “I am noticing that I am so stressed.” This tiny change puts a little bit of distance between the person and the feeling.  It loosens the grip of stress.

One way to cultivate mindfulness is to practice a mindful pause. According to Ryan Niemiec, this entails pausing to feel your in-breath and out-breath for 10-15 seconds. Then we can ask ourselves, “Which of my character strengths will I bring forward right now?” We could practice taking a mindful pause every time we hear a candidate’s name mentioned…

… keep reading the full & original article HERE

#stress #strengths #happiness #happier #happy #positivepsychology