Overcoming Stress and Anxiety with Realistic Optimism

Woman's hands squishing a stress ball tightly because she is under immense stress and anxiety

Are you feeling overwhelmed by stress and anxiety? Is finding moments of peace and contentment in your life becoming increasingly challenging? If so, you're not alone. In today's fast-paced and demanding world, stress and anxiety have become all too common, affecting individuals from all walks of life. 

But what if I told you that there's a way to break free from the grip of stress and anxiety? What if you could cultivate a sense of optimism and resilience that would allow you to navigate life's challenges with grace and confidence? It's called Realistic Optimism, and it's more than just a mindset—it's a way of life. (*Disclaimer: This is article not a substitute for seeking medical/ professional help. If you have been experiencing bouts of anxiety and depression, please consult a medical professional**

What is Realistic Optimism?


Realistic optimism is grounded in a deep understanding of the complexities of life. It's about acknowledging the challenges and the opportunities that come our way and choosing to face them with courage and determination. Unlike positive thinking, which can sometimes overlook the harsh realities of life, Realistic Optimism embraces both the positive and negative aspects of a situation. It's about maintaining hope based on a realistic assessment of your capabilities and the potential for positive outcomes through effort and resilience. 

People with this competency exhibit the following traits: 

  • They see obstacles as temporary challenges. 
  • Their self-talk reflects an expectation of success. They maintain a positive internal dialogue, expecting success in their endeavours and reinforcing their belief in their abilities. 
  • They believe in their capacity to succeed and have a deep-seated conviction that they will succeed, fueling their motivation and drive. 
  • They apply optimism to all aspects of life. This belief in success permeates all aspects of their lives, not just individual tasks, fostering a mindset of resilience and determination. 
  • They approach challenges with a mindset of victory rather than fear of failure, viewing setbacks as opportunities for growth and learning. 
  • They see growth as a result of motivation and ability, recognising their role in shaping their outcomes. 
  • They do not blame themselves for setbacks. Instead of blaming themselves for failures or setbacks, they view them as inevitable external realities that can be overcome with effort and perseverance. 
  • They are unfazed by defeat; perceive setbacks as challenges. Even in the face of defeat, they remain undeterred and perceive setbacks as challenges to be met with renewed determination. 
  • They do not see setbacks as a reflection of their personal flaws but rather as temporary obstacles on the path to success

Research has shown that individuals who possess high levels of Realistic Optimism tend to experience lower levels of stress and anxiety and greater overall well-being. They excel in their careers and have better relationships with other people. In one study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researchers found that optimistic individuals could better cope with stress and adversity, leading to improved psychological and physical health outcomes.

Developing Realistic Optimism 

But what about those who struggle to cultivate Realistic Optimism in their lives? For some individuals, negative thought patterns and beliefs can be deeply ingrained, making it difficult to shift into a more optimistic mindset. These individuals may find themselves trapped in a cycle of pessimism and hopelessness, unable to see a way out of their current circumstances. 

If you find yourself in this situation, consistently practising these developmental tips can help you cultivate this mindset: 

Tune into your self-talk: Pay attention to the thoughts that run through your mind on a daily basis. Are they predominantly negative or positive? Challenge any negative self-talk and replace it with affirmations of hope and resilience. 

Examine your beliefs: Take time to reflect on your beliefs about yourself, others, and the world around you. Are there any underlying assumptions or biases that may be contributing to pessimistic thinking? Consider how shifting these beliefs can impact your outlook on life. 

Challenge negative thought patterns: When faced with adversity, resist the temptation to catastrophise or dwell on worst-case scenarios. Instead, focus on finding solutions and opportunities for growth. Reframe challenges as temporary setbacks rather than insurmountable obstacles. 

Practice gratitude: Cultivate a habit of gratitude by regularly reflecting on the things you are thankful for in your life. This can be as simple as keeping a gratitude journal or taking a few moments each day to express appreciation for the blessings you have. 

Set realistic goals: Break down larger goals into smaller, actionable steps, and celebrate your progress along the way. By setting achievable objectives and taking proactive steps to accomplish them, you can build confidence in your ability to overcome obstacles and achieve success. 

Surround yourself with positivity: Seek out supportive relationships and environments that uplift and inspire you. Surrounding yourself with positive influences can help reinforce a hopeful outlook and encourage you during difficult times. 

Seek a professional Emotional Intelligence coach: Consider seeking guidance from a professional Emotional Intelligence coach to cultivate Realistic Optimism. These coaches can tailor strategies to guide you through challenges and empower you to foster a positive mindset. Their insights can be instrumental in managing stressors and enhancing your emotional well-being, leading to greater success in personal and professional spheres. 

At People Builders, our team of Emotional Intelligence master coaches can provide personalised guidance and support towards your journey of Realistic Optimism, helping you unlock your full potential and thrive in every aspect of your life.  

By embracing Realistic Optimism in your life and consistently practising these steps, you can experience a greater sense of peace and fulfilment, even amid life's challenges. However, it's important to note that Realistic Optimism is not a substitute for professional medical or psychological advice. If you are struggling with severe stress, anxiety, or other mental health issues, please seek guidance from a qualified healthcare professional. Your well-being is important, and there are resources available to help you on your journey toward better mental health. 

Make Realistic Optimism A Way of Life 

Realistic optimism stands as a beacon of resilience and hope in a world where stress and anxiety often feel overwhelming. It's not just a mindset; it's a transformative way of approaching life's challenges. 

So, start developing your realistic optimism. Start tuning into your self-talk, challenge negative thought patterns, and surround yourself with positivity. By embracing Realistic Optimism and seeking professional support when needed, you will be able to navigate business and life with greater courage and resilience and, ultimately, find moments of peace and fulfilment amidst the chaos.

We are Here to Help   

At People Builders, we have a team of expert trainers and coaches who will help you and your team develop Realistic Optimismand many other competencies.  

Contact us today for a quick chat to see how we can partner with you to train and coach you and your team 

 If you want to become a certified trainer and coach in Social and Emotional Intelligence or Extended DISC Behavioural Profiling, find out how by visiting the People Builders Institute website.  







Let's start a conversation!

Contact us to see how we can partner with you to bring out the best in your people.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.