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Category:  Health
Related Links | Healthy Living | Stress | Emotional Well-being | Cutting Medical Costs |

Talk To Yourself To Reduce Stress And Relax

By Liz Labrum

What is self talk? It is something we all do, when we're at work, shopping, traveling in the car or by train. But are you aware of the potent power this habit has to raise your level of stress and lower your ability to cope? HELPFUL OR UNHELPFUL THOUGHTS?

We create thoughts to help us explain things to ourselves, and making comments to ourselves seems to be automatic. Often the habit is so ingrained we believe we have no way of changing our internal dialogue. However, you can change the way you talk to yourself and doing so will make you more effective and self-confident.

BECOME AWARE OF YOUR THOUGHTS

Want to discover if you are using positive and supportive self-talk or negative self-talk? The following are a few examples of the things that positive and negative people say. Look closely to spot the difference. When you do, you will immediately see how these "mere words" can affect your life.

Negative people explain bad things by internalizing them; "I got that wrong-again." Their thinking makes this viewpoint seemed fixed; "It's always this way." They generalize; "Life is the pits." When they explain good things, they externalize them: "It was just luck," or consider them temporary: "That went well, TODAY.", and see them only in a limited context "At least THIS went right."

Positive people explain bad things by externalizing them: "The weather caused it." They consider set backs as temporary: "That was a rough couple hours." They see problems as isolated: "THAT part of the plan didn't work, but...". When they explain good things, they internalize them by thinking: "Life is great!" Their thoughts describe them as more or less permanent changes: "Now I know how to do this." Then generalize by thinking: "Things are working out well."

CHANGE OLD THOUGHTS FOR NEW

Try a simple exercise now to notice the difference in how thoughts affect your feelings. Look at yourself in a mirror and, thinking of something that you did recently say the following words; "I failed, I totally failed to do what I set out to." When you complete that, how do you feel having said those words? Note the expression on your face as you said them.

Now look at yourself and say, "I succeeded in some ways, and learned how to respond in a smarter way." With the saying of these words, how do you feel? What does your expression look like? Isn't it easier to see that your choice of language does indeed affect your body? Now you've experienced the power some words and the phrases have and how you can use others to move you into a more relaxed state. The following is a Three Step Lesson designed to teach you to use language to improve your perspective on life.

1. See the situation that produces stress. Hear the language you and other people use. Feel how you feel affected by your language and that of others.

2. Replace negative words and phrases with positive, uplifting words and phrases.

3. Repeat to yourself silently, but with a loud internal voice, positive, uplifting words or phrases that you find solution-oriented. See yourself in the mirror. Then ask yourself how you feel when you use a different set of uplifting words and phrases.

WORDS AND PHRASES IN NON-RELAXED AND RELAXED STATES


  • Non-relaxed state --- Relaxed state

  • I'm so stressed --- What do I need?

  • I'm never going to get this done! --- Let me think how I can finish this

  • I'm so frustrated! --- This feels challenging: I wonder how I will handle this in an effective way?

  • I can't listen to you now. --- Let's set a time to talk.

  • I'm in a rush. --- I can do this another time.

  • I can't think. --- Let's create a solution.

  • Not now! --- A later time could work better

    Name some words and phrases that you frequently use. See how you feel when you replace positive, uplifting words and phrases.

    PRACTICE THOUGHT STOPPING

    This is a time-honored behavior modification technique for disrupting a pattern of negative or anxious thoughts. Many people have found thought stopping (either alone or in combination with deep breathing) to be a highly effective technique for reducing stress as well as obsessive 'what-if' thinking.

    Take a deep breath and then shout 'Stop!', 'Stop it!', or 'Get out!' (If there are other people around, you might want to do this silently or just visualize a huge STOP sign.) Repeat several times if necessary.

    Replace anxious thoughts with calming and supportive statements to yourself, such as, 'This too will pass,' 'I am calm and strong,' or any coping statement that you can create and that has meaning for you. After you have disrupted your thoughts, you may find it useful to shift your focus to deep abdominal breathing.

    Slow down your breathing and breathe as gently as you can through your nose and abdominally. This reduces the dizziness, disorientation and tingly sensations associated with stress and panic. Just two to three minutes of slow, abdominal breathing will have you thinking more clearly and calmly.

    If you practice any or all of the techniques above you will find that in a very short time you will be more focused, able to relax quickly and generally happier about your lot!

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