Cultivating positivity is a surprisingly potent stress-buster.

The Best Way to Beat Stress: A Positive Attitude

It may sound cheesy, but I’ve come to believe that the best thing I do to manage stress is maintain a positive attitude. When we hold and exude positivity, it makes the whole day go more smoothly. Even when all heck is breaking loose, if you stay upbeat and approach everything with that presence, everyone around you stays calmer.

For one thing, you’re able to recruit more help when you stay positive. There’s a magnetism to it and people are drawn to that. There’s enough negativity and stress everywhere, so when you’re offering the opposite, people want to help. And that’s going to make any job or task easier and better.

As a primary care physician, you need a strong team around you, and staying positive helps everyone work together. I’ve particularly noticed that it helps when you’re working with lots of different types of people, both staff and patients. Patients feel the difference – they hear “we’re going to help you, we’re going to take care of you,” and they feel surrounded by that.

But it’s true in any workplace – you can’t go it alone and be successful. And When you’re positive, people want to be part of that and work with you to solve problems. It becomes a two-way street; when you have good support, it’s easier to ask for help.

Of course, you can’t always keep it up –  we don’t just come to work and shut out our personal lives and sometimes things get you down. Obviously I get into bad moods and in the privacy of my own office I might give into it for a bit and grouse. But when I’m around others,  I try not to share my frustrations and complaints, because then it’s not just happening to me, it’s happening to everyone. And I’ve found it’s not worth it to criticize or find fault or blame, because when you do that you instantly just want to take it back and then it taints the whole day.

One trick I’ve found to reset stress and frustration is to count by twos all the way up to 200. (You have to close your eyes and concentrate on what you’re doing.) I do it myself and I teach it to my patients. It really works – it’s very calming to the central nervous system and reduces the stress response of our body. And no matter how busy you are, it’s important to take recharge breaks. Most of us have at least five minutes at lunch, so why not do something positive with it? It will pay off overall.

At end of day, the ability to stay positive really benefits you as well as everybody else.

Kristine Lee, MD, is Assistant Chief of Medicine, Population Care and Chief of Chronic Conditions Management at Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Medical Center. Her special interests are health maintenance and disease prevention. A mother of two, Dr. Lee prioritizes the health and fitness of her family by making sure they do plenty of outdoors activities together. Her fitness activity of choice is Les Mills BodyPump workout classes. Born and raised in Honolulu, Dr. Lee attended medical school at the University of Hawaii and trained part-time at Kaiser Permanente Honolulu before joining the staff of Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Medical Center.