Developing Optimism to Combat Stress
How can you end negative thinking and live with a more positive and productive mindset?
It’s no secret that negative thinking can generate a truckload of stress. In fact pessimism, or the general tendency to think negatively, is the number one cause of mental stress in both men and women.
Some scientists believe that humans have a natural tendency to think negatively because thousands of years ago, a negative mindset helped our hunter-gatherer ancestors survive hostile and scarce environments.
This pessimism eventually became an evolutionary trait and we still have it; even if the majority of the world has moved on from living in hunter-gatherer societies.
How can you modify your thinking patterns so that you can focus on the more positive aspects of different life experiences?
1.Correct C ommon Negative Thought Patterns
Because of our natural pessimistic tendencies, our minds seem to be preoccupied with generating negative thoughts and ideas. You have to spot these negative trends in the way you think so you can arrest them before they cause even more stress in your life.
Here are some of the most common pessimistic thought patterns that have been observed in both men and women:
a)Unreasonable Generalizing – When a person generalizes too much, they end up thinking that the world is unfair and that they're always getting the short end of the rope in most situations.
You are making unreasonable generalizations when you think or say things like “everyone in this office is an idiot” or “I’m always the exhausted one in this house.”
b) Crazy Conclusions – A person makes crazy conclusions when they think of a negative outcome before examining all the details of a situation.
For example, an office worker may think that they're going to get fired and replaced within a month because they made a small mistake and their project leader was aware of this mistake.
c) Unfair Self-Evaluation – An unfair self-evaluation occurs when you take a small detail from a situation and use that tiny piece to create a horrible outcome for yourself. A good example would be a high school student who wasn’t able to ace a college entrance exam.
They might say, “I’m so horrible at studying that no university would ever want to let me in!” This type of thinking is not only pessimistic but it’s also largely irrational because it’s not based on facts – it’s based purely on emotional thinking.
d) Fearing the Future – This is a classic thought pattern observed in people with negative mindsets. You know that someone currently fears the future when you hear things like, “I think I’m going to forget all my preparation and fail my job interview tomorrow.”
Again, this type of thinking is largely irrational and can easily sap anyone’s energy because it almost always generates “worst case scenarios” out of pure air.
2. Hold an Internal Dialogue With Yourself
If you are often a victim of anxiety, over-worrying and negative thinking, it might help if you simply stopped your mind its tracks and held an internal dialogue with it so that you can deconstruct any horrible thoughts you may be having.
Here are some statements that you can use to dispel any negative and irrational notions that you may encounter when your negative thinking kicks in:
“Am I simply reacting to this situation or am I preparing to respond to the problem?”
“Do I have any concrete proof that something horrible is going to happen, or is everything just in my head?”
“Was I always correct about this type of situation in the past or am I repeating wrong assumptions I’ve had before?”
“Am I 100% certain that this catastrophe will take place again just because I had a similar experience when I was young?”
“Am I being reasonable when I feel sorry for myself just because one person didn’t like my output?”
“Am I being realistic or am I just letting my rich imagination getting the best of me?”
“Risk is natural – it doesn’t mean something bad will actually happen to me.”
“Stop thinking of the worst that could happen!”
3. Laugh Whenever You Can – Laughter has been medically proven to be effective against stress. Make it a point to laugh as often as you can to help dispel negative thinking and to physically relax yourself. When a person laughs, their whole body relaxes and their brain sends out chemical signals for pleasure and happiness.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josée Smith, known as the NO Excuse Health Coach, specializes in helping professional women who are sick and tired of being sick and tired of dealing with stress and overwhelm by empowering them to focus on their health and wellbeing so that they have more energy, stay motivated, feel healthier and happier and achieve what they truly want with grace, power and ease.
Josée is the creator of the Turn Stress and Overwhelm into Energy and Vitality system. She has developed several programs to help women reach their health goals faster and easier so they can start living their best years now.