Have you ever been in a good mood then suddenly you remember how your co-worker annoyed you at work that week and the good mood you were in dissipates into thin air?
The mere thought of that incident has now turned a perfectly good evening into one filled with annoyance. That example of how our mood can change occurs in what seems like a split second.
But the aftermath of this mood change can last for a long time. And the effects of that can be detrimental.
What is the cause of negative thinking?
Negative thoughts are natural responses to the underwhelming and disappointing experiences that occur in life. And as natural as they are, negativity can cause anxiety, sleep problems and a variety of other health problems.
Constant feelings of negativity and hopelessness can trigger chronic stress which disrupts the body’s hormonal balance, causing a depletion of brain chemicals required for happiness and damaging the immune system’s ability to fight inflammation may cause you to have a higher chance of getting sick.
Granted, there is also a positive side to stress in which your body goes into ‘fight or flight’ mode, allowing you to maneuver through stressful situations with more focus and alertness due to the release of cortisol in the bloodstream.
However, prolonged stress and negativity have a compounding effect on your mental health as well as your physical health, which can cause you to turn other things as a coping mechanism.
With all this in mind, you need to identify how you can stop negative thoughts from taking precedent in your life.
The only things under your control are how you judge the events that affect you and how you react (your actions) to those events. You can only control how you act and respond to the actions of others.
Everything else is not under your control. You can’t control the actions of others nor how they respond to you. Trying to control these things can ultimately cause stress to build as a result.
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How to control the negative thoughts
Realistically, we all do not remember this when things happen to us. If your spouse or other family member is rude, you may take it personally, even if it has nothing to do with you.
When someone angers you, you don’t take the time to think before you respond and that is all normal. However, there are a few other methods that can help us take a moment and regain control.
Take some time to breathe and visualize a positive outcome through any situation. At times, it may be hard, but visualization can allow your mind to be transported elsewhere; leaving you focusing on positive thoughts which can in turn generate happiness and gratitude and reduce worry.
Initially, visualizing will take practice to focus on the positive and negate the negative but with consistency and time this will get better.
Another method is to implement scheduled time to manage your stress. You schedule a time for the exercise, so why can’t you schedule in time to take care of your mental health and manage your stress levels.
Discover what helps you to relieve stress, whether it’s dancing for five minutes or knitting a new scarf, cleaning, a walk in the neighborhood, find out what healthy coping mechanism helps you to distress, and make time for it.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) works by replacing negative thoughts with positive ones. Similar to practicing positive affirmations, CBT is a goal-oriented treatment used to challenge the thoughts or behaviors that are behind people’s thoughts and change them.
Although this is usually done with a therapist, this can also be done daily alone by identifying your negative thoughts, sourcing out the root of them, and adapting them to more realistic and positive ones.
Whilst on this journey to denounce negative thoughts, always remember that you are under tremendous stress as a caregiver, you are just human, you are trying your best.
Don’t suppress any emotions that comes your way, rather acknowledge them and live through it. Pretending negative emotions don’t exist will only be detrimental to you in the long run as it will manifest again differently.
If you find you need more help, don’t hesitate to seek the advice of a doctor, certified counselor or psychologist. Changing your thought process will change time but you’ll get there.