Pathways to Wellness

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De-stress your thinking

When we think about stress, we usually focus on the physical symptoms and solutions;  yoga and deep breathing can help reduce your stress.  To learn more about these techniques, go to Relaxation and stress.

But what about the role of our thoughts?  How we think about the situations we face also affect our experience of stress.  Sometimes our thinking becomes narrow, skewed, or one-sided.  Thoughts like “I never do anything right” or “Nothing ever goes my way” or “what’s the point of doing anything?” can add to our stress and prevent us from seeing solutions that might exist to the problems we are facing.

We can get locked into particular patterns of thinking that actually increase stress and set us up for anxiety and depression.  Distorted thinking becomes so automatic that we don’t even consider the possibility that it’s not realistic.

The first step then is to become aware of the thoughts that may be getting or keeping you stressed. Sometimes writing them down makes it easier to look at them objectively.  Take a close look at how you are thinking about a situation and ask yourself questions such as,

  • Is my thinking realistic?
  • Is there any evidence that contradicts how I’m thinking?
  • Is there another way of looking at the situation?

This can help you replace distorted thinking with more realistic thinking.  This can help you think more objectively about your situation, and think more clearly about how you might change the situation so that it works better for you.

EXAMPLE:

Distorted thought:  I’ll never be able to get on top of this situation”.

More realistic thought:  “I can’t see the solution right now.  But if I step back and talk it over with a friend, maybe I’ll find a way of taking charge.”

Listen to Dr. Mike Evans, a Toronto doctor, talk about why he thinks the single most important thing you can do to manage your stress is to change the way you think.

Learn more