Stress is a healthy reaction to pressured situations. Stress can be positive when it helps us stretch ourselves but is a negative experience when perceived demand outweighs perceived coping ability.
This can quickly spiral into avoiding certain situations, feeling unable to cope with day-to-day activities and a sense of losing control and can be experienced as panic, worry or fear. Recognising the need to understand yourself and be aware of your state of mind along with some preplanned strategies can really help keep you well in the face of a stressful situation.
Focus on the positives and prepare for the negatives, refresh and rejuvenate and keep calm and carry on!
Training our body for physical tasks seems entirely normal, so why not try training your brain for optimal performance power thinking?
A positive mental attitude goes a long way to keeping you afloat in a stressful world, by being aware of yourself and your state of mind you can begin to change your own outlook.
Some brain training exercises to try ⇓
- Don’t over think things
- Think and speak positively
- Surround yourself with positive people
- Recognise your own achievements and those of others
- Accept compliments
- Look forward
- Let go of past grudges
- Be grateful – count blessings
- Love yourself
Toxic thinking patterns
Most of us are prone to one or more of these toxic ways of thinking, especially when we are tired or stressed. Just being aware of your own tendencies can help you stop these toxic thoughts from taking over and pulling your further down. Which do you do?
- All or nothing thinking. Everything is all good, or all bad. No grey areas.
- One bad thing happens, the world is ending.
- Disqualifying the positive. You can’t accept anything positive ever happening.
- Mental filter. You filter out all good qualities so you can focus on the negative.
- Jumping to conclusions. You interpret everything in a negatively with no evidence.
- Catastrophising or minimization. You blow minor things out of proportion.
- Emotional reasoning. If you feel bad, everything is bad.
- Should statements. You try and mold the world to your vision of reality.
- Labeling and mislabeling. You believe the overgeneralizations and make them reality in your own mind.
- You take things personally. You become very defensive at even the slightest perceived criticism.
Mindfulness meditation is not something weird or alternative, it has something for anyone whose mind feels full and who would appreciate switching off, if even for a minute. We’ve all done it at sometime without giving it a name – ever taken a deep breath or two before taking on a challenge? Perhaps you have noticed how clear your mind is when you are concentrating on the rhythm of your breathing when swimming or running – mindfulness has that same effect and can be done anywhere and for as long as you like.
Try this → Sit in a chair with your back straight, feet on the floor and your eyes closed. Breath in and out through your nose (if you can) noticing your abdomen push out as your diaphragm contracts. Take 12 to 15 slow deliberate breaths concentrating all the while on your breathing.
Don’t worry if other thoughts creep in, just refocus on your breathing,
That’s all there is to it – being mindful is about focusing on the present moment – the exercise above helps you do this and is a starter for more mindfulness meditation.
⇒ There are loads of Apps you can try as well, we have them listed further down the page.
Dealing with strong feelings
Lacking full control our emotions can be destructive to both ourselves but also our patients, high emotions tend not equate to calmly applied logic. Try to become aware of and regulate these emotions – if you recognise feel very emotional try to take a break urgently to calm yourself. This might never have happened to you, but have a plan for how you would cope ready for when it might.
Dealing with feeling overwhelmed
- Distract yourself – Count backwards from 100 in three seconds
- Take brief quiet time – count to ten
- Do some mindfulness breathing, even two or three breaths can help calm you
- Try power thinking, firmly telling yourself positive affirming messages – “I can cope with this situation and remain in control”
Dealing with low mood
Seek support, if you are having trouble sleeping, are finding it hard to enjoy things you used to and are perhaps anxious and cry easily- could you be depressed? You might benefit from seeing your GP or Occupational Health. It’s OK to seek help, in fact, you must look after yourself.
Mind Mapping – Tony Buzan
Brain Gym – Dennison & Dennison