Senior black couple dancing in their back garden

You can be taught to have a more positive attitude. And — if you work at it — a positive outlook can lead to less anxiety and depression.

The latest evidence comes from a new study of caregivers — all of whom had the stressful job of taking care of a loved one with dementia. The study found that following a five-week course, participants’ depression scores decreased by 16 percent and their anxiety scores decreased by 14 percent. The findings were published in the current issue of Health Psychology.

The course teaches eight skills to help people cope with stress. Techniques include mindfulness and deep breathing, setting an attainable daily goal, keeping a gratitude journal and — yes, it works — performing small acts of kindness.

Skeptical? Melissa Meltzer Warehall was too. She’s caring for her husband, Paul, who is 64 and was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s in his 50s.

Warehall says she began to feel a shift to a sunnier outlook just a few weeks into the program. One skill she learned: how to reframe the daily hassles of life into something positive.

[T]hough that particular program is not available to the general public outside the research project, Moskowitz points to an online program called It’s All Good Here that teaches similar skills. (Moskowitz has consulted with the creator of the program to share some content, but she has no financial ties to the company.)

Read more or listen on NPR.

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