When it comes to stress, perception is reality. What we hear, smell, feel and think immediately triggers our bodies’ chemical response. “The body and mind are not separate,” explains Melissa Blacker, MA, associate director of the stress reduction clinic at the Center for Mindfulness, Health Care and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. “What we think controls what happens in our bodies.”
So if you want to reduce stress, that’s good news. If your perceptions are stressing you out, changing your perceptions can calm you down. In fact, research shows that simply paying attention to the present moment without judging it — typically done through meditation and conscious breathing — slows breathing and improves your outlook. The only thing you sometimes have control over is perspective.