The last time you encountered a hectic workweek, opened yet another expensive repair bill, or suffered through a day of chronic pain, what did you think about? Although everyone experiences stress, not everyone handles it the same way.
Changing your thought process related to these events can reduce associated stress. Additionally, changing your perception can help uncover positive solutions and maybe even bring a little peace. This process takes time, so be patient with yourself.
Take a few deep breaths
Life sometimes looks rosier after inhaling more oxygen. Deep, long breathing calms the body’s stress response, lowers the heart rate, and gives you something to focus on besides the stressor.
The worst thing rarely happens
A lot of stress comes not from what’s actually happening, but worries about what could happen, including worst-case scenarios. Think back over your life. How many times has the worst-case scenario actually happened?
If you find yourself ruminating on all of the potential disasters that could befall you should you fail to complete all the tasks on your list, take a deep breath. Pick one thing, the most important thing, and do that. When you feel overwhelmed, take a walk, listen to music, or engage in some other healthy outlet. Unless it’s life or death, it can wait.
Review the situation and analyze the things you can control and those you can’t
Has your boss completely overloaded you with work? Is your husband not helping with housework? Are tight finances stressing you out? Ask for help. Let the people affected know you’re overwhelmed, ask for a deadline extension, get help with washing dishes, or find a financial counselor. Asking for help can seem scary, but your mental well-being is more important.
With chronic stress, like any illness or disease, sometimes it helps to focus on what you do have. You’re alive, you have a beautiful beating heart, and you probably have family members and friends who love you. If you can walk, walk and feel your legs moving and enjoy the air on your skin.
Even under more serious stress, think about what you can control. Maybe you can exercise or eat better or try meditation. Nobody has complete control over their life, but everyone has some small step they can take right now to improve their circumstances and reduce stress.
And what you can’t control? Try to accept it and let go. Although easier said than done, greater acceptance brings peace, further lessening stress.
What tips do you have to think positive?
Image by Steve Jurvetson via Flickr