There seems to be a lot of unnecessary stress around at the moment fuelled by inaccurate perceptions and a lack of self-awareness. If you’re feeling out of control and your blood pressure’s rising it’s time for a rational reality check…
Generally our experience and levels of stress comes from the perception we have of a particular situation, regardless of whether that perception is right or wrong.
When our interpretation is incorrect or unreasonably harsh this can send us into a downward spiral of negative thinking which has a knock-on effect in terms of our levels of happiness and self-confidence.
The following 3 steps outline a proven strategy to reduce stress and improve your ability to think rationally:-
Step 1: Thought Awareness
The problem with negative thoughts is that they tend to flit in and out of our conscious awareness, which means that on most occasions we barely realise they’re there and we often don’t challenge them appropriately to explore whether they’re right or wrong.
Therefore the first step in reducing stress is to have ‘thought awareness’ whereby you take note of your thoughts and become aware of what’s going on inside your head. As you feel stressed jot down your thoughts to increase conscious awareness – after all, you can’t manage them if you’re not aware of them!
Step 2: Rational Thinking
The next step is to challenge the negative thoughts you identified in step 1. Look at the thoughts you wrote down and challenge them rationally. It’s often easier to think of this in the ‘third person’ so imagine what a friend or colleague would say – would they agree or disagree? Would they think you were being rational or not? How would they challenge the thoughts you’re having?
Step 3: Positive Thinking
The final step is to draw on positive resources to counter any negativity. So for example, if you’re stressed about a presentation you could use a positive affirmation such as “I’ve prepared well and am in a great position to give a confident performance”. This will help to undo any damage that negative thinking may have.
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