Practical examples to get out of the negative internal dialogue and control the stress it generates.
The coronavirus pandemic raised the stress levels of the world population. Added to the changes in routines and the fear of contracting the infection is the uncertainty caused by the absence of a clear horizon. Negative thoughts surface more than usual, especially in people with a greater inclination towards pessimism. And what happens in the head, can have a correlation in the body and affect health.
“Some studies show that personality traits, such as optimism and pessimism, affect many areas of health and well-being. The positive thinking that usually comes with optimism is essential part of effective stress management, which, in turn, is related to many health benefits “say specialists from the Mayo Clinic in an article in which, however, they clarify:” If you tend towards pessimism, do not despair because you can learn to think positively“.
“It does not mean burying your head like an ostrich and ignoring life’s unpleasant situations. Positive thinking simply means face the unpleasant in a more positive and productive way. That is, you have to think that the best will happen, not the worst, “they explain.
To achieve this, we must work on the internal dialogue that we maintain with ourselves, made up of an endless stream of thoughts that, although they are not expressed verbally, flow rapidly through the head. Those automatic thoughts can be positive or negative. “Part of the dialogue with oneself comes from logic and reason, but another part arises from misconceptions that we create due to lack of information,” argue the authors of the article.
And they add that when the thoughts running through the head are mostly negative, the outlook on life is more likely to be pessimistic.
Although the effects of positive thinking and an optimistic perspective are still being studied, some of the benefits with which it is associated, according to specialists from the Mayo Clinic, are: longer life, lower rates of depression, lower level of suffering , more psychological and physical well-being, better cardiovascular health (and lower risk of dying from this cause), in addition to greater ability to face difficult situations and times of stress.
“It is not known – they affirm – why people who think positively show these benefits on their health. One theory is that having a positive perspective allows them to better cope with stressful situations, which reduces harmful effects on health that stress causes in the body. It is also believed that positive and optimistic people tend to lead healthier lifestyles, because they are more physically active, eat healthy, and do not smoke or drink excessively. “
Not sure if your inner dialogues are positive or negative? Here are some common types of negative self-talk the authors of the article mention:
✔Filtration. It occurs when the negative aspects of a situation are amplified and all the positives are filtered out. Example: Today was a great day at work because you finished everything early and received praise for a job done quickly and neatly, but that night you focus only on your plan to work more and forget the praise you received.
✔Personalization. Personalization happens when something bad happens and you automatically blame yourself. Example: when you find out that a meeting with friends has been canceled, you assume that the change of plans is because nobody wants to be with you.
✔Catastrophizing. It occurs when one automatically anticipates the worst. Example: you ordered a coffee in the morning, they brought you something different than what you requested and, automatically, you think that the rest of the day will be a disaster.
Polarization. Polarization occurs when things are seen only as good or bad, without anything in between, and the person believes that they must be perfect because, otherwise, they would be a failure.
You can learn to change negative thinking for positive. “The process is simple, but it requires time and practice because, after all, you have to develop a new habit”, say the specialists who mention some ways of thinking and acting in a more positive and optimistic way:
✔Identify areas that need change. If you want to be more optimistic and attract more positive thoughts, first identify the areas in your life that you tend to think negatively, whether at work, in your daily routine, or in a relationship. Start small and focus on one area for a more positive approach.
✔Control yourself. Throughout the day, stop periodically and assess what you are thinking. If you find that your thoughts are primarily negative, try to find a way to modify them and turn them positive.
✔MI had a sense of humor. Allow yourself to smile and laugh, especially in difficult times. Find humor in everyday situations, because when you can laugh at life, stress decreases.