Changing your way of thinking can change your life
Posted Apr 08, 2013
In today’s fast paced world, with many things vying for our divided attention - work, family, traffic, bills, health issues, finances – is it possible to live a stress free life? The answer is absolutely YES!
Stress is part of a biological state of arousal of our sympathetic nervous system called the flight-or-fight response. In evolutionary terms, stress plays an essential role in our survival. It is intended to keep us safe from harm, by preparing us to either flee from danger or gather resources to fight. We are flooded with adrenaline, which causes the heart to beat faster, constricts the muscles, and causes us to breathe deeply. Adrenaline gives surges of energy, and heightens our sensory awareness. The body also produces Cortisol, which increases glucose in the blood stream and temporarily stops the digestive and immune systems from functioning. Not only does the stress response prepare us to meet challenges, it can provide an energy source. Stress can provide motivation to succeed, similar to an athlete who wants to finish first in the race. Stress hormones provide positive outcomes, in the short term, but long term exposure can lead to deleterious outcome.
So is it possible for us to live life stress free? Let’s face it—life doesn’t always go the way we want it to, and that can be downright overwhelming at times. We can easily slip into negative thought patterns when things just aren’t going our way. However, thinking negatively can have a huge impact on our overall health. Studies show that people who are constantly thinking negatively have a much higher chance of dying early than people who strive to think positively. Not to mention, life just seems easier and more enjoyable when we are in a good mood. So how do we manage to stay positive, even when life throws us a curveball? Here are some tips on how to stay positive, happy, and healthy:
It is hard to think negatively when you’re grinning from ear to ear. The next time you notice yourself thinking negative thoughts, force yourself to smile or even better laugh out loud. You will be amazed at how quickly your thoughts and mood can change just by this simple act.
We often get so caught up in our own worries and stress that we forget how lucky we are. Try to start each day by thinking about five things you are thankful for in your life. Remind yourself of these things throughout the day and before you go to bed. You will probably find that your life seems a lot more cheerful when you remind yourself of the good in it.
Affirmations are a very powerful way to encourage positive thinking. These are simple thoughts or mantras that you repeat to yourself to encourage positive thinking. An affirmation could be something along the lines of ‘I am strong enough to get through anything’, or ‘I forgive myself and others for any past mistakes’. The more you repeat the affirmation, the more real it will become.
4. Surround Yourself with Positive People
Studies show that people often subconsciously pick up the traits of the people they spend the most time with. The more you surround yourself with positive people, the more likely you are to pick up on their energy and start thinking positively yourself.
5. Start a Happiness Bank
At the end of every day, try to think of one good thing that made you happy throughout the day. You can write it down in a journal, note it on a piece of paper and drop it in a jar, or even record that thought in audio or video form. This way, you have a rich source of happy thoughts to go back to when you are feeling down.
6. Be Kind
It may sound strange to help someone else so that you can help yourself, but an act of random kindness can really foster positive thinking. Sometimes even a simple smile or some kind words can brighten someone’s day, which in turn will have you feeling good about yourself as well.
7. Go With the Flow
Instead of resisting against the things that you cannot control, try to accept the situations that come your way. For example, your first reaction in a traffic jam may be to get angry and frustrated and lash out. However, no matter how angry you get, it won’t change the situation. Try to breathe, smile and tell yourself that this will soon pass.
8. Stay Present in the Moment
When was the last time you used your five senses to appreciate your surrounding and connect with life? All too often, our minds are filled with regrets or doubts about our past or fear and anticipation of the future. We forget that we can only live in the moment and that each moment is a new beginning and a chance to start over.
Put these simple actions into practice and welcome your wonderful stress free life!
© 2013 Dr. Cynthia Thaik