Mindfulness has many potential benefits for mental health. But if you want to be more positive, the key may be to be mindful and at the same time keep planning for the future. At least that’s the conclusion of researchers writing in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.

The experts from North Carolina State University say people who achieve this balancing act tend to cope well with stress and avoid negativity.

They worked with 223 volunteers to investigate two things – mindfulness and what they call proactive coping.

As anyone who’s tried it knows, mindfulness is – in simple terms – all about living in the moment. Proactive coping, on the other hand, is making plans to reduce stress in the future.

The participants completed daily questionnaires designed to rate their proactive coping capabilities plus their tendencies towards mindfulness. And at the end of the study, the researchers found that while proactive coping helped to reduce the effects of stress, it didn’t work on days when the participants weren’t that mindful.

“Our results show that a combination of proactive coping and high mindfulness result in study participants of all ages being more resilient against daily stressors,” says Professor Shevaun Neupert, one of the study’s authors.

So how can you achieve mindfulness while thinking about the future? The trick may be to stop worrying about the future but instead to plan for it, particularly what you could do to avoid stress.