Although experts disagree, it is widely believed that stress is only harmful if you believe it is harmful.

A 2012 research study indicates that people who think that stress is bad for their body and mind have poorer health compared to people who do not. If you do not think that stress is harmful to you, then your body exudes a healthier physiology as you respond to stress in your life.

A Closer Look at Research

In June 2013, the Atlantic published an article that discusses an eighteen-year research study about stress. In 1991, more than 7,000 subjects took a survey to rate how significantly they believed that stress affected their health.

In 2009, the researchers followed up with the same people to find out whether they had a fatal or a non-fatal heart attack during that time span.

The researchers determined that the subjects who believed that stress affected their health most significantly were two times more likely to experience a heart attack compared to subjects who believed that stress did not affect their health. A surprising factor of this study is that the outcomes were independent of the amount of stress that the subjects actually experienced.

The researchers accounted for the various behaviors of the subjects as well as biological and psychological factors. Even accounting for these factors, the results imply that if you believe that stress is harming you, then it likely is. Your mind has a powerful effect on your body.

How Stress is Linked to Your Mind

It appears that either stress is a state of your mind or the effects of stress are a state of your mind.

Harmful effects of stress include depression, anxiety, sleep disorder, weight fluctuations, heart problems, digestion issues, and even memory impairment.

Many of these problems occur when people who are stressed believe that the stress is harming their mind and body. Furthermore, when you respond poorly to stress, such as with a negative attitude or with an exaggerated perception of the amount of stress that you are under, then you are more likely to experience some of the problems previously listed.

People who believe that they are able to maintain their stress levels, who have a positive, can-do attitude, are less likely to experience the harmful health effects of stress. This implies that stress, and the effects of stress, are primarily a state of mind.

With a strong, positive mentality, you can minimize or completely prevent the harmful health effects of stress. A degree of stress can be healthy because it motivates you to achieve, but too much stress can be negative. You could even prevent the stress altogether, particularly negative stress. Of course, cases of extreme stress are certainly more difficult to control and the effects may not be preventable.

By maintaining a mentality that you can overcome obstacles and stay optimistic, your stress levels should not become harmful to you.

Another Stress Perspective: The Optimist Versus the Pessimist

The optimist sees the light at the end of the tunnel, and for them there is always a silver lining. This general positive attitude touches all aspects of their lives, even when there is severe distress and trauma, they will still better handle the situation than their counterpart, the pessimist.

The optimist (positive thinker) perceives life differently than the pessimist or negative thinker who typically suspects, fears and sees the worst in all situations.

Those with positive attitudes tend to have less stress, and they also manage their stress better than negative thinkers do. This can go a long way to supporting overall health and wellness and preventing dis-ease.

In this regard, stress is a state of mind that can vary from one person to the other.

In addition to maintaining a positive mentality, you can alleviate stress by going out of your way to help other people and to seek solace from friends and/or family. These things build a healthy mind, which in turn controls or even removes negative stress.

Having a support system from friends and family is especially important because it assures you that you have people you can fall on in times of need. This provides an enormous amount of comfort and provides the stability you need to know that you can overcome anything.