Much of the stress in our everyday lives can come from our thought process. How we perceive a situation can be “off” and so we can also feel that we are “off”. We can jump to wrong conclusions about people’s motives and so be seen as unreasonable. All of this can send us spinning downward into a spiral of negative thinking and that is how stress begins.
Here are some effective and simple tools that help to change this negative thinking.
Any given situation in your life is not stressful by itself. Your perception of the situation is what will or will not make it stressful. Stress will arise quickly if:
** You feel threatened
** You feel your resources will not be sufficient to meet with a demand
** How much damage you feel this situation can do to you
** Whether or not your resources will be enough to meet with the demand.
A person with a calm and well-balanced life will not perceive threat easily, whereas a person who is frazzled and feeling low certainly will.
Feeling this type of stress serves as an early warning signal to alert us to take immediate and positive action! To ignore these important signals means we will definitely suffer.
Using Thought Awareness to Deal with Stress
Be on guard and watch out for negative thinking when stress begins to rise. If you are thinking negatively about your future, putting yourself down, criticizing your efforts, doubting your abilities, or planning for failure, you will then become paralyzed and find it harder to deal with stress.
Your negativity will only damage your much needed self-confidence, harm your performance and deplete your mental recourse.
One way to effectively counter-balance stress is to be forever aware of your stream of consciousness as you think about a stressful event. Don’t deny your negative thoughts, instead, just let them happen, acknowledge them, then write them down as they occur.
As you become more and more familiar with your thought patterns, which ones are negative and which ones are not, look back at your Stress Diary. You will easily see patterns that emerge detailing the same or similar negative thoughts.
Once you have identified which negative thoughts are causing you the most problems, you can then take action to deal with them more effectively.
Step One to Managing Negative Thoughts is to acknowledge them.
Step Two to Managing Negative Thoughts is to write them down.
Step Three to Managing Negative Thoughts is to deal with them.
Thought awareness is your first effective step in the process of managing negative thoughts. Remember, you cannot manage thoughts that you do not acknowledge first.
Using Rational Thought to Deal with Stress
The practice of rational thought allows you to separate the positive thoughts from the negative ones. Study each of the negative thoughts that you have identified using Thought Awareness. Look at each thought and ask yourself if this thought is actually reasonable. Many people find this step very difficult, because you must be somewhat objective to get it right. You must try to separate the emotional from the rational.
If we take a look now at your Stress Diary. We will identify where you have had frequent negative thoughts:
I feel inadequate (written 5 times in 6 days)
I feel taken advantage of (written 3 times in 5 days)
I feel I am not appreciated by my kids (written 6 times in 6 days)
Are the comments written above only thoughts and feelings on your part or can you back your feelings up with actions?
For Example: I feel inadequate because when I was asked to bake for the bake sale, I felt poorly that day and remained in bed, unable to bake.
Ask yourself if this is an occurrence that is frequent (your staying in bed and not baking) or if this was a one time thing.
If the answer is that you do, in fact, stay in bed a good deal rather than
participate in some school function, you might want to look further into
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