Your thoughts have a huge impact on your mental state. New research taken from a study by the UK National Centre for Biological Sciences has shown that even brief periods of stress can shrink the part of the brain that impacts memory. It’s a scary prospect and one that the majority of us will be keen to avoid. Fortunately, there are ways we can protect ourselves against stress and its negative impacts.
Experts recommend placing the focus on acknowledging that your thoughts impact how you feel as opposed to trying to change the way you think or react to stress. Here are five ways to help you work with your thoughts and feelings and not against them for happier, healthier life.
- Acknowledge your feelings – Acknowledging that you’re feeling so-called ‘negative emotions’ isn’t always easy but it is necessary. Often it’s not the situation that stresses us out but our reaction to it or feelings about it. Realising that you have the power to recognise how you’re feeling and change it can help put stress back in its place.
- Find your “default mode” – The happiest and least stressed people have what experts call a ‘default mode’. It’s a state of mind where you’re settled and not swinging wildly between elation and sadness or constant items on your “to-do” list. Achieving this ‘default mode’ requires practice, especially in allowing our thoughts to find their natural state of being without pressure from us to feel a certain way.
- Refuse to be the victim – A victim mentality is where you believe that someone or something else is directly responsible for how you feel. You lay the blame on your negative emotions at the feet of something else in the hope that It’ll alleviate stress and guilt but in the long run, find it coming back to bite you. Recognising that you are transferring your own interpretations and feelings onto someone else and actively trying to stop doing so is one of the best ways to stay mentally grounded and content.
- Smile more often – Don’t take life to seriously! As we get older, we often start to feel defined by what we think. We also sometimes feel that our thoughts represent us as people. Extrapolating our real selves from our thought based self is a crucial skill. Recognise that what you are thinking isn’t reality and that you have the power to change your thoughts and actions.
- Don’t stress about the future – We spend a lot of time thinking about the future. In some ways, many of us seem to think that the more we stress about it, the better chance we have of controlling it. Not so at all. Accepting the fact that we don’t have any control over our future selves might seem scary but it’s a great way of removing stress from the scenario while helping you to live in the moment.
How do you keep your stress levels in check? Share your tips with us in the comments below.