What most people don’t know is that stress begins with our perceptions. The human body has an efficient reaction to dangerous events as mentioned earlier ‘the flight of fight response’. This stress response allows you to jump out of the way of an oncoming car or quickly retreat from a burning surface. Unfortunately sometimes you may unconsciously perceive that the stress reaction is necessary for non-threatening situations such as family issues, looming headlines and traffic jams. To avoid this situation, you need to master ways to counter your body’s stress responses so that you can learn to relax and clear your mind.
Reframing your thoughts starts with identifying the types of thinking that lead to or increase stress. Negative and unproductive thoughts than cause you to worry too much can trigger the production of stress hormones. Here is a guide on how to identify stressful thoughts;
Must and should statements
When you are too hard on yourself by having a strict list of priorities you are only make yourself feeling anxious. This kind of anxiety will cause paralysing fear of failure leading to procrastination and unnecessary panicking.
This is the attitude of always expecting the worst case scenario or simply blowing things out of proportion. When you have this kind of thinking you tend to make mountains out of more hills by making tiny problems seem like a horrible disaster.
All or nothing kind of thinking
Sadly life is black and white; it is also not good and bad. Nothing is so straight forward. To avoid stress you need to acknowledge the complexities (or grey areas) of being a normal human being. Give yourself a break because no one is perfect and the situation does not have to be ideal.
This kind of thinking entails having internal conversations about your worst fears coming true. What if I’m late, what if I get an accident, what if I never succeed?
How to deal with negative thoughts or negative thinking
Pessimism is a great example of how to overcome negative thought. Simple, instead of focusing on all the negative and concentrating on what could go wrong just think about the positives and what could happen if it all goes as planned and as expected.
Another way to combat stressful thinking is to challenge your negative thoughts. Ask yourself if there is any truth to your fears and the negative thoughts that you are letting to consume you.
Start keeping a journal
Although most people consider a keeping a journal too tedious and strange it can be the best way to overcome negative thoughts. Writing down your thoughts on a regular basis will help ensure that you remain stress free because you are literally transferring thoughts from your mind to paper. Releasing it all to paper will give you a sense of relief that you would otherwise not find. A journal only works if you do it right:
- Write honestly without any fear because this is a private and safe place where there is no judgement. Express all your emotions, thoughts and feelings so that they don’t take up too much space on your brain.
- Go through your journal occasionally to see the progress you are making in embracing a more positive lifestyle