Stress Management Management Techniques Shift Your Focus and Relieve Stress By Elizabeth Scott, PhD Elizabeth Scott, PhD Twitter Elizabeth Scott, PhD is an author, workshop leader, educator, and award-winning blogger on stress management, positive psychology, relationships, and emotional wellbeing. Learn about our editorial process Updated on March 17, 2021 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Steven Gans, MD Medically reviewed by Steven Gans, MD Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print In most situations, ignoring problems can only make them worse. However, sometimes not ignoring problems can be just as bad. Participating in rumination—the habit of focusing too heavily on stressors and wallowing in negative feelings that can sometimes creep in—can exacerbate stress without solving anything. The key is to be able to address problems when possible, but put them out of your mind when you're not in active problem-solving mode. The ability to shift your focus can be a vital skill. If you’ve learned to shift your focus away from stress in your life to stave off rumination, here are some ways to go a little deeper with this skill. 1 Practice Cognitive Restructuring urbancow/ Getty Images We all have the natural tendency to distort things in our minds to varying degrees, to shift focus to one thing or another. For example, some people jump to conclusions a little too often, others discount the positive in a situation, and others tend to overgeneralize. Some people do a lot of these things at once. These largely unconscious mental habits are psychological defense mechanisms against stress that often create more stress than they relieve because they create other issues that can become problematic. When we are aware of these tendencies, we can consciously choose another path. How to Reframe Situations So They Create Less Stress 2 Learn to Turn Around a Bad Day Serg Myshkovsky/ Getty Images Sometimes a difficult morning can turn into a bad day—or even a bad week. The thing is, one or two challenging events sometimes throw you off your game, and that can activate your stress response. When you are operating from a place of stress, you may not be thinking as clearly or handling new challenges as efficiently. This can create more stress and make it difficult to maintain a positive attitude, creating a downward spiral of stress. How to Turn a Bad Day Into a Good One 3 Enhance Your Optimism Andy Ryan/ Getty Images Research shows that optimists enjoy greater health, success, satisfaction, and even longevity in life. This doesn't mean that ignoring the negative things in life will make your dreams come true, but focusing more on the positive than the negative, and doing so in specific ways, can help you to maximize your ability to make the best of the challenges you face in life. How to Think Positive 4 Maintain a Gratitude Journal Carlina Teteris/Getty Images Gratitude journaling is a simple stress reliever that carries multiple benefits. It provides you with a positive distraction from stress while you're writing. The practice also encourages you to notice the positive sides of a situation. And after a while, you have a nice record of some wonderful things in your life that you have to be grateful for, which can pick you up when you're feeling down. Maintaining a Gratitude Journal for Stress Relief By Elizabeth Scott, PhD Elizabeth Scott, PhD is an author, workshop leader, educator, and award-winning blogger on stress management, positive psychology, relationships, and emotional wellbeing. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist for Stress Management Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.