Self-generated thoughts can impact our health and well-being. While negative thinking can contribute to increased anxiety, a positive outlook can reduce stress levels and help you feel better. The tips below will help reduce stress by fostering positive thoughts.
Effective stress management is key to living a healthy life, yet it remains the most challenging task for people. That’s because our stress levels depend not only on external factors but also on our thoughts. If other animals feel stressed to survive in nature and escape predators, our cortisol levels rise even when we are in no real danger.
We can feel angry even when thinking about a conversation with our boss that never actually occurred. We feel stressed when we reinvent past stressful memories in our head or think about everything we lack. In contrast, can a positive outlook reduce stress if negative thinking makes us feel stressed? Absolutely!
Johns Hopkins expert Lisa R. Yanek, M.P.H., and her colleagues found that a positive outlook can even decrease the chances of a heart attack in people with a family history of heart disease compared to those with a negative outlook. Many scientists and researchers now emphasize more and more the importance of positive thinking, and if you want to experience its benefits on your own, the tips below can help.
Begin Your Day With Gratitude
Have you ever felt that every morning you wake up, your brain system loads slowly, just like it does in a computer when you turn it on?
It reminds you who you are, where you live, and what makes you stressed or happy.
You look in the mirror and suddenly remember about a fight you had a year ago with your girlfriend, and you think about everything you said and could have said. You think of all the other terrible things she has done to you and how she left you without even saying goodbye. Suddenly you feel stressed, angry, and frustrated. What’s worse is that you even forget about your loving, beautiful existing girlfriend sleeping in your bed.
Although it’s been a pretty long time since your break-up, it can still make you upset by recalling unpleasant memories. Is it a good way to start your day? Definitely not. Wouldn’t it be better to begin your day with thoughts like “I’m so lucky to have met my girlfriend,” “I had such a great night,” “my hair looks so good today,” or even “I’m happy to be alive?”
Research suggests that gratitude can improve our mental health, unshackle us from toxic emotions, and can have long-lasting effects on our brains. Therefore, starting your day by listing everything you are grateful for, whether you write them on a piece of paper or simply naming them in your head, is a wonderful way to reduce stress.
Reframe Your Negative Thoughts
Sometimes, when we face a small challenge, we jump to negative conclusions even if it’s not of great importance. For example, if you spill coffee on your pants, you might start thinking – “I’m a clumsy person. My mom was right; I’ll never change.” “These are my favorite pants” “I’m a loser.” And then you feel stressed, angry, sad, and even agitated, only because you spilled coffee on your pants. Instead of jumping to negative conclusions, you can reframe these thoughts and make positive affirmations. See examples below:
|I’m a clumsy person.||I haven’t dropped anything else in a whole week.|
|I’ll never change.||I must be changing; it happens less frequently.|
|These are my favorite pants.||I’m lucky to have several other pairs of pants I can wear instead.|
|I’m a loser.||Being clumsy doesn’t define my personality, and it’s not a personality trait.|
Reframing your thoughts can change your point of view, and it’s an effective strategy to reduce stress levels.
We are way more understanding and supportive of our friends than ourselves. We are hard on ourselves but kind to others. We understand, encourage, and support our friends, but not ourselves. Practicing self-compassion is an excellent way to reduce negative self-talk and feel better about yourself. It means treating yourself as you would treat your friend in a similar situation; be kinder, encouraging, and more understanding.
When your friend feels sad, you don’t snap at them and judge them for being sad. Instead, you try to understand the cause of sadness and find a way to make them feel better. What if you treated yourself similarly? You’d most likely feel better.
Build Resilience by Accepting Stressors
Sometimes we feel overwhelmed by stressful events because we believe they should have never happened. We believe life is unfair to us and are angry about our problems.
Unfortunately, life isn’t rainbows and butterflies. Stressful events will happen as long as you are alive. The beauty of living your life is solving your problems, not avoiding them.
Sure, if you decide never to leave your house, binge watch your favorite movies, read self-help books and stop keeping in touch with others, you may reduce stressors. You’ll no longer meet your uncle who points out your breakouts; you’ll never have to deal with your grandfather who believes women belong in the kitchen or father who “isn’t homophobic, but…” But the truth is that you might still spill coffee on your favorite pants, someone might begin banging your door, and you could have a water leak in your house.
Accepting stressors, as they are, without negative thinking and instead of finding ways to deal with stressors and solve problems is key to building resilience and reducing stress.
Don’t be a Victim In Your Own Story
Being a victim is easier than being the hero; the whole world is against you, and you have no control. A victim mindset might make you feel less guilty about not solving your problems, but it will never make you feel good.
Remember, no problems are unique to you. Regardless of what you are experiencing, chances are millions of people are dealing with the same issue. You aren’t a victim of your own life, despite how many lemons life gives you. It’s your decision whether you make lemonade or make yourself a victim. You can’t control stressors, but you can control how you react to them.
Positive and negative thinking can significantly impact our mental health, positively and negatively. You take a huge step towards healthy living and well-being by fostering positive thinking. Studies suggest that a positive outlook can reduce stress and increase your quality of life. We hope the tips above will help you achieve better well-being.