Become aware of your thoughts.
Who is not having Stress these days…
And of course, we know that having it all the time, for example at work, is not healthy and that we should do more things that relax and balance us.
But have you ever thought about how your own thoughts and emotions contribute to your stress levels?
So every time neurons fire in a specific pattern in our brain we have a thought. These thoughts then lead us to make choices and influence our behavior.
With this behavior, we make experiences that give us certain emotions. And these emotions, in turn, influence our thoughts about ourselves and the world.
This is the feedback loop of thinking, behaving and feeling where all parts reinforce each other.
This can be a great thing. If we regularly have positive thoughts, they can lead to an upward spiral that builds us up, makes us feel great and motivated.
But what if we regularly hold negative thoughts that make us stressed?
"Will I complete the project in time? Will my business be successful, will this work be good enough?"
Having these Negative Thoughts regularly produces emotions of stress and chemicals like cortisol that are in line with that stress response.
Short-term stress is very natural and occurs in every kind of animal to be able to trigger the fight-or-flight response.
However, if you are stuck in a situation where you have stressful, negative thoughts every day, then this stress response is no longer healthy.
No organism is made for keeping up a stress response over the long-term.
The science of epigenetics starts to show that these chemicals like cortisol actually down regulate genes, which were responsible for producing vital proteins for the body and the immune system.
Therefore, these chemicals initially triggered by your thoughts can create disease.
In other words, your thoughts can make you sick.
What can we do about it?
1. Patrolling your thoughts regularly.
That means becoming aware of what kind of thoughts you are having regularly. Writing them down (journaling) and meditation are great for that.
2. Realize that you are not your thoughts.
We tend to build up a sense of who we are from our thoughts, that’s why they become so habitual. Writing them down and looking at them or observing them during meditations sees these thoughts more objectively.
3. Choose helpful thoughts.
Decide the kind of empowering thoughts and mindset you want to have, write them down and read it every day. Writing down things you’re grateful for also starts positive thoughts. Then feel the accompanying positive emotions and break the old, addictive vicious cycle.