Oprah may have been onto something when she told a crowd of Harvard graduates last week to "lean in" to their own beliefs.
According to a new study, keeping positive thoughts about yourself and your core values could be the key to busting stress.
In the study, published by the online journal PLOSone in May, researchers from Carnegie Mellon University found that problem-solvers who recieved an affirmative ego boost just before a stressful task performed better than their unaffirmed counterparts.
Researchers asked 73 college students from two universities to rank 11 core values--like family, work, art, or friends--in order of personal importance. The students were then asked to either write about why their top-ranked value was important to them--giving them an opportunity to affirm that value--or to write about why one of their lowest ranked values might be important to others.
Students who wrote about one their core beliefs performed better on a subsequent problem-solving task than those who wrote about a value of little personal significance.
"Our work suggests that self-affirmation may be a relatively easy-to-use strategy for mitigating stress and improving problem-solving performance in evaluative settings," wrote J.D. Creswell, the lead researcher for the study.
So next time you find yourself reaching for that stress ball, consider tearing a page out of Julie Andrew's playbook... and making a list your favorite things instead.