I heard one of the best answers to my stress question when I asked a patient about her current stress levels. She said, “It depends on the story I’m telling myself that day”. Brilliant. So conscious and so true.
Whether you’re aware of it or not, you have a pattern for coping with stress. Unfortunately, most people have found patterns and methods that do not support good health.
If you want to be truly successful in coping with stress you need to identify negative thinking patterns or stories, and replace them with the following:
1. Train yourself to think like an optimist.
What distinguishes an optimist from a pessimist is the way in which one explains both good and bad events. Instead of blaming, for example, you recognize that everyone makes mistakes. Instead of getting angry, you forgive. Instead of being down on yourself, you recognize that you did your best, given the circumstances.
2. Make a real effort to talk to yourself in a positive way.
There is a constant dialogue taking place in our heads, and our self-talk makes an impression on our subconscious mind. In order to develop or maintain a positive mental attitude, you must stop negative self-talk in it’s tracks. Notice when you do it and consciously stop that train of thought by noticing something positive around you or something positive about yourself.
Become aware of your self-talk and then consciously work to imprint positive self-talk on the subconscious mind. Two powerful tools for creating positive self-talk are questions and affirmations…
3. Ask better questions.
A powerful tool for improving the quality of self-talk and hence the quality of life is a series of questions by Anthony Robbins, author of the bestsellers Unlimited Power and Awaken the Giant Within.
According to Tony, the quality of your life is equal to the quality of the questions you habitually ask yourself. For example: An individual is met with a particular challenge or problem. He or she can ask a number of questions in this situation, such as “Why does this always happen to me?” or, “Why am I always so stupid?”
The answers to these questions don’t build self-esteem. A better question would be, “What can I learn from this situation or do to make it better?” If you want more happiness in your life, simply ask yourself the following questions on a consistent basis: “What am I most happy about in my life right now?” and “Why does that make me happy?”
4. Use positive affirmations.
An affirmation is a short statement with some emotional intensity behind it. Positive affirmations can make imprints on the subconscious mind to create a healthy, positive self-image. In addition, affirmations can actually fuel the changes you desire.
You may want to have the following affirmations in plain sight to recite them over the course of the day:
• I am blessed with an abundance of energy.
• Love, joy, and happiness flow through me with every heartbeat.
• I am thankful for all of my good fortune.
• Yes, I can!
5. Set positive goals.
Learning to set goals is another powerful method for building a positive attitude and raising self-esteem. Goals can be used to create a “success cycle.”
Achieving goals helps you feel better about yourself, and the better you feel about yourself, the more likely that you will achieve your goals.
Here are some guidelines to use when setting goals:
• State the goal in positive terms. For example, it’s better to say “I enjoy eating healthy, low-calorie, nutritious foods” than “I will not eat sugar, candy, ice cream, and other fattening foods.”
• Make your goal attainable and realistic. Little things add up to make a major difference in the way you feel about yourself.
• Be specific. The more clearly your goal is defined, the more likely you are to reach it.
• State the goal in the present tense, not the future tense. In order to reach your goal, you have to believe you have already attained it.
• Set short-term goals that can be used to help you achieve your long-term goals. Get into the habit of asking yourself the following question each morning and evening: “What must I do today to achieve my long-term goal?”
6. Practice positive visualizations.
Many people believe that we have to be able to see our lives the way we want them to be before it happens. In terms of ideal health, you absolutely must picture yourself in ideal health if you truly want to experience this state.
You can use visualization in all areas of your life, but especially for your health. Be creative and have fun with positive visualizations.
7. Get acupuncture treatments on a consistent basis. Acupuncture has been shown to reduce levels of stress and change the way people feel stress in their body when done on a consistent basis. My patients will tell you that it’s also very relaxing.