Reduce stress using positive thinking?
What do reducing stress and positive thinking even have in common?
At first glance, it would seem that stress and positive thinking have nothing to do with one another. But many of us don’t deal with stress as well as we could or should.
We get really busy and, as the deadlines and projects start piling up, we start to feel like we’re slipping behind and not accomplishing as much as we are capable of.
We develop negative thinking patterns because we get frustrated by our challenges and frequent feelings of being overwhelmed.
This negative way of thinking then makes it even harder for us to manage those stressful challenges and move forward.
Practicing positive thinking helps us deal with stress by focusing on our strengths and accomplishments. This naturally increases our happiness and motivation.
With increased happiness and motivation, we get to spend more time making progress and less time feeling bad about how busy we are.
Here are some practical tips that can help you find your mojo and reduce stress using positive thinking.
1. Take Care of You
It’s much easier to be positive when you are fueling your body with proper nutrition, exercising and getting enough rest.
You’ve gotta keep your car maintained and in good shape if you wanna get where you need to be. Regular maintenance, good fuel and not squealing the tires all the time will keep that racer in top shape.
Same goes for you.
2. Practice Gratitude
Remind yourself of the things you are grateful for. Stresses and challenging situations don’t seem quite so bad when you are consistently thinking of the good things in your life.
Taking just a minute or two each day to stop and appreciate how much good you have in your life will make a huge difference.
3. Don’t ASSuME
You know what happens when you assume… sometimes you’re wrong!
Our innate (and for the most part irrational) fear of not being accepted or liked often leads us to assume that we know what others are thinking. But our fears usually do not serve as an accurate reflection of reality.
Do you have a fear that a friend or family member’s bad mood is due to something you did? Ask them!
Do you think that people at work are secretly gossiping about you behind your back? Speak up and ask!
Don’t waste time worrying that you did something stupid or wrong unless you have absolute proof that you have something to worry about.
Everybody has these fears… and the easiest way to overcome them is to just face them and shut them down.
4. Never Use Absolutes
How often have you said or heard something like this:
- You’re always late!
- You never call me!
- You are always mad at me!
- I’m never going to get the hang of this!
- Stuff like this always goes over my head!
Words like “always” and “never” are called absolutes, because they leave no room for anything but the certainty of a particular situation. And they’re absolutely wrong in most cases.
Thinking and speaking in absolutes like these make the situation worse than it is and programs your brain to believe that certain people are capable of delivering.
Always remember to never use absolutes!
5. Let Your Negative Thoughts Go
Thought can’t hold any power over you if you don’t judge them.
We all have negative thoughts. The key is to keep detached from them. Recognize them as a normal part of being human.
Tell yourself “self, that was a very negative thought” and let it go. Don’t follow it!
6. Squash the “ANTs”
In his book “Change Your Brain, Change Your Life,” Dr. Daniel Amen talks about “ANTs” – Automatic Negative Thoughts.
These thoughts are the bad kind that are purely reactionary, such as “Those people were whispering when I walked by, they must be talking about me”, or “Oh No! The boss wants to see me… that can’t be good!”
When you notice those thoughts, remember that they are nothing more than reactionary thoughts and squash them like the ANTs they are.
7. Take a Cue from Journey
Practice some lovin’, touchin’, squeezin’. But make sure it’s wanted! No means no.
You don’t have to be a psychologist to know the benefits of a good hug. Positive physical contact with friends, loved ones, or even little fur babies is an instant mood-booster.
One research study had a waitress touch some of her customers on the arm as she handed them their checks. Guess what happened…
She received higher tips from these customers than from the ones she didn’t touch.
Just remember… not everyone likes to be touched. Respect people’s personal space!
8. Get Socially Active
No, I’m not talking about spending more time on Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest.
Get out of your screen, out of your house, and into action with other people. By increasing social activities, you decrease loneliness and reduce stress.
Surround yourself with happy, healthy people and let their positive energy have a positive effect on you!
9. Give It Away, Give It Away, Give It Away Now
Bonus points if you know the song…
Volunteer for a charitable cause or organization. Help a friend or neighbor, or even a stranger. Helping others makes us feel useful, talented and needed, and almost always leads to good feelings.
Volunteer your time, your money, or other resources. The more positive energy you give to the world, the more the world will return to you.
And the world needs as much positive energy as it can get!
10. Interrupt Ruminations
What the heck are ruminations?
Ruminations are the focused attention on the symptoms of one’s distress, and on its possible causes and consequences, as opposed to its solutions. Yes, that’s straight from Wikipedia.
Think of it as a hyper-focus on something negative.
It’s never (uhoh… absolute alert!) productive or solution-oriented. In fact it’s not even rational. It’s just excessive worry. And it can be a really tough rut to get out of.
To get yourself out of that funk, try doing something completely different. Interrupt that pattern. Try these:
- go for a walk/take a hike
- listen to new/different music
- go outside
- go inside
- call a friend
- read a magazine
- check out articles on Your Big Scene (my favorite)
Well, you should be by now. Hopefully you never need to use all of these to get you back in a positive frame of mind, but any combination is safe to use.
How do you reduce stress using positive thinking?