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10 Ways to Become More Resilient

10 Ways to Become More Resilient

Build Your Resilience and Coping Skills With These Tips

Resilience can often mean the difference between handling pressure and losing your cool. Resilient people tend to maintain a more positive outlook and cope with stress more effectively. Research has shown that while some people seem to come by resilience naturally, these behaviors can also be learned. The following are just a few of the techniques you should focus on in order to foster your own resilience.

1  Find a Sense of Purpose in Your Life

After her 13-year-old daughter was killed by a drunk driver, Candace Lightner founded Mother’s Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Upset by the driver’s light sentence, Lightner decided to focus her energy into creating awareness of the dangers of drunk driving. “I promised myself on the day of Cari’s death that I would fight to make this needless homicide count for something positive in the years ahead,” she later explained. In the face of crisis or tragedy, finding a sense of purpose can play an important role in recovery. This might involve becoming involved in your community, cultivating your spirituality, or participating in activities that are meaningful to you.

2  Build Positive Beliefs in Your Abilities

Research has demonstrated that self-esteem plays an important role in coping with stress and recovering from difficult events. Remind yourself of your strengths and accomplishments. Becoming more confident in your own ability to respond and deal with crisis is a great way to build resilience for the future.

3  Develop a Strong Social Network

Having caring, supportive people around you acts as a protective factor during times of crisis. It is important to have people you can confide in. While simply talking about a situation with a friend or loved one will not make troubles go away, it allows you to share your feelings, gain support, receive positive feedback, and come up with possible solutions to your problems.

4  Embrace Change

Flexibility is an essential part of resilience. By learning how to be more adaptable, you’ll be better equipped to respond when faced with a life crisis. Resilient people often utilize these events as an opportunity to branch out in new directions. While some people may be crushed by abrupt changes, highly resilient individuals are able to adapt and thrive.

5  Be Optimistic

Staying optimistic during dark periods can be difficult, but maintaining a hopeful outlook is an important part of resiliency. Positive thinking does not mean ignoring the problem in order to focus on positive outcomes. It means understanding that setbacks are transient and that you have the skills and abilities to combat the challenges you face. What you are dealing with may be difficult, but it is important to remain hopeful and positive about a brighter future.

6  Nurture Yourself

When you’re stressed, it can be all too easy to neglect your own needs. Losing your appetite, ignoring exercise, and not getting enough sleep are all common reactions to a crisis situation. Focus on building your self-nurturance skills, even when you are troubled. Make time for activities that you enjoy. By taking care of your own needs, you can boost your overall health and resilience and be fully ready to face life’s challenges.

7  Develop Your Problem-Solving Skills

Research suggests that people who are able come up with solutions to a problem are better able to cope with problems than those who cannot. Whenever you encounter a new challenge, make a quick list of some of the potential ways you could solve the problem. Experiment with different strategies and focus on developing a logical way to work through common problems. By practicing your problem-solving skills on a regular basis, you will be better prepared to cope when a serious challenge emerges.

8  Establish Goals

Crisis situations are daunting. They may even seem insurmountable. Resilient people are able to view these situations in a realistic way and then set reasonable goals to deal with the problem. When you find yourself becoming overwhelmed by a situation, take a step back to simply assess what is before you. Brainstorm possible solutions, and then break them down into manageable steps.

9  Take Steps to Solve Problems

Simply waiting for a problem to go away on its own only prolongs the crisis. Instead, start working on resolving the issue immediately. While there may not be any fast or simple solution, you can take steps toward making your situation better and less stressful. Focus on the progress that you have made thus far and planning your next steps, rather than becoming discouraged by the amount of work that still needs to be accomplished.

10  Keep Working on Your Skills

Resilience may take time to build, so do not become discouraged if you still struggle to cope with problematic events. According to Dr. Russ Newman, “research has shown that resilience is not an extraordinary thing but is rather ordinary and can be learned by most anyone”. Psychological resilience does not involve any specific set of behaviors or actions, but can vary dramatically from one person to the next. Focus on practicing some of the common characteristics of resilient people, but also, remember to build upon your existing strengths.

 
By Kendra Cherry    May 10, 2016 
source: www.verywell.com 

Characteristics of Resilient People

Why are some people better able to cope with crises than others?

While people vary dramatically in the coping skills they use when confronting a crisis, researchers have identified some key characteristics of resilience. Many of these skills can be developed and strengthened, which can improve your ability to deal with life’s setbacks.

Resilient people are aware of situations, their own emotional reactions and the behavior of those around them. In order to manage feelings, it is essential to understand what is causing them and why.

By remaining aware, resilient people can maintain control of a situation and think of new ways to tackle problems.

Another characteristic of resilience is the understanding that life is full of challenges. While we cannot avoid many of these problems, we can remain open, flexible, and willing to adapt to change.

Here are some other characteristics of people who have strong coping skills.

A Sense of Control

Do you perceive yourself as having control over your own life? Or do you blame outside sources for failures and problems? Generally, resilient people tend to have what psychologists call an internal locus of control. They believe that the actions they take will affect the outcome of an event. Of course, some factors are simply outside of our personal control, such as natural disasters. While we may be able to put some blame on external causes, it is important to feel as if we have the power to make choices that will affect our situation, our ability to cope, and our future.

Strong Problem-Solving Skills

Problem-solving skills are essential. When a crisis emerges, resilient people are able to spot the solution that will lead to a safe outcome. In danger situations, people sometimes develop tunnel vision. They fail to note important details or take advantages of opportunities.

Resilient individuals, on the other hand, are able to calming and rationally look and the problem and envision a successful solution.

Strong Social Connections

Whenever you’re dealing with a problem, it is important to have people who can offer support. Talking about the challenges you are facing can be an excellent way to gain perspective, look for new solutions, or simply express your emotions. Friends, family members, coworkers, and online support groups can all be potential sources of social connectivity.

Identifying as a Survivor, Not a Victim

When dealing with any potential crisis, it is essential to view yourself as a survivor. Avoid thinking like a victim of circumstance and instead look for ways to resolve the problem. While the situation may be unavoidable, you can still stay focused on a positive outcome.

Being Able to Ask for Help

While being resourceful is an important part of resilience, it is also essential to know when to ask for help. During a crisis, people can benefit from the help of psychologists and counselors specially trained to deal with crisis situations. Other potential sources of assistance include:

  • Books – Reading about people who have experienced and overcome a similar problem can be both motivating and good for ideas on how to cope.
  • Online Message Boards – Online communities can provide continual support and a place to talk about issues with people who have been in a similar situation.
  • Support Groups – Attending support group meetings is a great way to talk about the challenges you’re facing and find a network of people who can provide compassion and support.
  • Psychotherapy – If you are having trouble coping with a crisis situation, consulting a qualified mental health professional can help you confront the problem, identify your strengths, and develop new coping skills.
By Kendra Cherry   October 03, 2016
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10 Secrets to Living a Long, Healthy Life

Super agers are a group of older adults who have cognitive abilities on par with people decades younger than them. From what you should eat to how you should exercise and who you should spend your time with, these are things they’re doing on the regular.

Never smoke

Smoking will trim off up to a dozen years of your life, suggests 2013 research in the New England Journal of Medicine. In fact, if you never smoked, you’re twice as likely as a current smoker to see 80 candles decorate your birthday cake. What’s more, the habit is linked to an increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease, says research. If you smoke, there’s no better time than now to quit.

Dine on fish and chicken

When Thomas Perls, MD, MPH, the director of the New England Centenarian Study and a professor of medicine and geriatrics at Boston Medical Center works with patients, he tells them to go easy on the beef and pork. Not only is a high intake of red meat linked with cancer, but the saturated fat in the meat may also harm your brain, per 2012 research in the Annals of Neurology. It’s fine if you’d like to eat it on occasion, of course, but limit it to twice a week, he advises. The rest of the week, lean toward fish, poultry, and heaps of veggies.

Lift weights

Rather than focusing on burning calories with cardio equipment, build strength with weights. There are at least a dozen feel-good benefits that kick in when you pick up a dumbbell. But lifting also maintains muscle and bone mass to protect against frailty—and prevent falls—when you get older. It also keeps your mind limber. One randomized-controlled study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that when women having memory problems did twice-weekly weight training for six months, they improved measures of attention and memory compared to those who did balance exercises.

Pal around

It’s not enough to simply exercise, you have to stay active in general. And one of the ways you can get the most out of it is to pick those that you can do with others. Because taking an evening stroll with neighbors offers far more benefits than stretching your legs: “Socialization is cognitively stimulating,” says Dr. Perls. Chatting with friends, challenging each other, and offering support helps your brain lay down new neural networks that keeps your brain young.

Check your eating

It sounds so boring, right? But if you have a healthy weight, you’re already so far ahead. “Obesity is such a potent and important cause of numerous age-related diseases, like adult-onset diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and stroke,” says Dr. Perls. What’s more, obesity has also been linked with dementias and Alzheimer’s disease, as having a greater fat mass is associated with higher blood levels of amyloid proteins, which are linked to cognitive decline.

Play a mind game

There’s a lesson in always learning something new: It doesn’t just keep life exciting, but it keeps you sharp as you age, studies suggest. Try one of these 14 brain challenges—because “use it or lose it” seems to apply to your brain as much as your muscles. A study in 2013 asked one group of older adults to quilt, another learned digital photography, and a third did both activities for 16 hours a week over three months. Those who took up the “cognitively demanding” task of learning digital photography sharpened their memory more so than those who honed their old quilting skills. What have you always wanted to do but thought you weren’t going to be good enough? That’s exactly what will keep your brain young for years to come.

Eat more berries

Berries are one of the cornerstones of the MIND diet, a hybrid between the Mediterranean diet and DASH diet that can keep your brain 7.5 years younger, shows research. Among all the other fruits, they’ve been singled out thanks to past research that showed intakes of blueberries and strawberries were associated with better brain health. The sweet little fruits are rich in anthocyanins, antioxidant plant compounds that preserves neuronal pathways involved in memory and cognition. Aim to eat at least two servings per week. And if you’re looking for new ways to eat berries, try them in a delicious fruit smoothie.

Ease stress

Stress is a given, but know you have a choice to change your circumstances and limit the bad vibes from festering. “Stress that continues for a long time, a condition known as chronic stress, is toxic to your brain – it literally eats away at critical brain regions,” writes neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett, PhD, in the Guardian. (She’s one of the authors on a new study on super agers published in the Journal of Neuroscience.) Barrett suggests leaving negative things behind. It can be as little as changing jobs or taking relaxing vacations.

Tipple lightly

Do you need these 17 tips to help cut back on alcohol? Consider this: In a study on cognitively healthy 65-year-olds published in PLOS Medicine in 2017, those who reported light or moderate drinking scored higher on a test measuring cognitive functioning compared to teetotalers. The key is light. Another study showed that people who have 14 to 21 drinks per week experienced more shrinkage in the hippocampus, an area of the brain related to memory. What’s more, their research didn’t show that light drinking was protective. Until the research is definitive, stick to the recommended one drink a day for women and two for men.

Keep perspective

It’s all about your attitude, right? It’s easy to brush off health issues as being all about your genes, and something that’s not under your control. But Dr. Perls says the decisions you make every day can have a huge impact on your lifespan. The average life expectancy in the U.S. is about 79 years old, but he says that can be much longer. “I think the vast majority of the reason someone lives to 90 is lifestyle behaviors. That’s a really optimistic view of aging, but it’s possible,” he says. Knowing that your daily choices matter—and can tack on almost a dozen good, sharp years on your life—can help you build on habits that will get you well into your golden years.

BY JESSICA MIGALA
source: www.rd.com


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The Surprising Secret to Healthy Aging

You probably know that exercise and diet are important when it comes to aging well. But there is something else you control that can help you along: a positive attitude.

Research shows more and more that your approach to life may be just as important in making your “golden years” your best years.

Aging: It’s in Your Mind

Growing older brings with it some natural changes (think those creaky knees). But folks who see good years ahead and who don’t accept stereotypes about aging — such as you’re less useful — may actually live longer.

And there’s science to back that up.

One study found that thinking positively about getting older can extend lifespan by 7.5 years. And that’s after accounting for things such as gender, wealth, and overall health. Some 660 women and men in Ohio joined this study, and they were monitored for more than 20 years.

If you see the glass half full, it could play an even bigger role in living better and longer than things such as low blood pressure and cholesterol, which have each been shown to increase life span by about 4 years.

A good attitude also seems to have a greater effect on living longer than not smoking, low cholesterol, or a healthy weight, a Yale study found.

The researchers’ earlier work showed the power of positive thinking when older people were asked whether they see themselves as “wise” or “senile.” People who thought themselves smart did better with memory, stress, and even with math.

The Power of Optimism

It’s difficult to know what comes first — the good health or the positive attitude.

One possible answer is they build on each other: A rosy outlook may help you exercise more and eat better. And that in turn helps you stay hopeful and happy because you feel better. You may hear that called a “virtuous circle.”

Optimism has been linked to living longer.

The Mayo Clinic found this out in a study they conducted over decades. They gave more than 800 people a test to figure out whether they were optimists, pessimists, or something in between.

Thirty years later, they checked to see just how long these people lived. The optimists did better; the pessimists had a 19% greater chance of dying in any given year.

 

Less Chance of Getting Sick

Part of the power of optimism is that it may actually lower the chance of getting sick. For instance, it may play a role in keeping your heart working at its best.

Optimism can be good for your blood pressure, one of the most important factors in heart health.

One study of more than 2,500 men and women who were 65 and older used a scale to measure just how positive or negative the people were. They took into account whether they smoked, drank alcohol, and what medications they were on.

What they found: People who were positive had lower blood pressure than those who were gloomy.

 

Memory

Being optimistic may help you with thinking and remembering.

People who are hopeful about their futures are less likely to be forgetful, a recent study out of Europe found. More than 4,500 adults age 65 and older were in it. The optimists were also better at problem solving and making sound decisions.

Learning to Be Happy

What if you feel like you’re a natural-born pessimist? All is not lost. Optimism can be learned; it takes practice like anything else.

Things you can do include:

  • Check yourself. If you’re having negative thoughts, pause and see whether there’s a better way to look at what’s bothering you.
  • Seek out humor and laughter
  • Make time for things that give you joy
  • Find positive people and hang out with them

 

 
 
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on August 17, 2016
 

Sources:
Levy, B.R. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, August 2002.
Press Release, Yale University.
Maruta, T. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, March 2000.
Ostir, Glenn V. Psychosomatic Medicine, August 2006.
Gawronski, K.A. Psychosomatic Medicine, June 2016.
News Release, University of Michigan.
Mayo Clinic, “Stress Management (Focus on Positive Thinking).”

source: WebMD


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5 Life Skills That Promise Success

Here’s good news: If you had a less-than-wonderful childhood, you can still have amazing success in life. How? It comes to do these little life skills.

What makes us healthy, wealthy, and successful?

It’s true that a nurturing upbringing, with lots of love, support, and opportunities for play, learning, and growth, seem to give people an advantage early in life. But that head start only goes so far. The rest of the recipe, according to new research, comes from you.

In a new study published in PNAS, the official journal of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States, researchers from the University College London followed 8,119 men and women to determine which life skills most directly contributed to their health and success in life—or lack thereof.

What they found was that those who had successful, wealthy, and happy upbringings weren’t necessarily the most successful, happy, or healthy once they grew up. Instead, it was people with specific personality traits who were the healthiest and most successful. And these traits helped ensure that were internally, rather than externally, fulfilled.

Emotional stability

To be successful in life, start with your own mental health. “Our ability to stay ‘in check’ with our emotions is one of the most powerful life skills we have,” explains Joshua Klapow, PhD, a clinical psychologist and Associate Professor of Public Health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

“Emotional stability is like a regulator on our life skill set. It allows us to not be falsely optimistic, overly determined, too self-sacrificing, or too controlling. It allows us to experience life but to come back to a middle ground.”

Researchers at the Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus found a direct correlation between emotional stability and future success in a work environment. Those who were more in control of their emotions could handle typical work stressors better, leading to further opportunities at work and less stress overall. Fortunately, this is a skill you can develop.

Another study found that exposing yourself to common work stressors early in young adulthood can have profound effects on your ability to navigate stressful work situations later in life. Of course, less stress leads to better overall health. So, if you want to know how to become wealthy and healthy in the future, you may want to focus on your resilience now.

Determination

The U.K.’s University of Kent conducted a study that outlined the top skills employers look for when searching for new employees. Determination was among the top 10. Very simply, determined people get things done, so it’s no wonder that employers would want them on their teams.

Determined individuals are willing to move past obstacles to reach their future goals. According to the PNAS study, 26.4 percent of people who had four or five of the important life skills outlined here, including determination, were in the highest wealth range of participants.

Determination also boosts health. According to Dr. Klapow, “Determination is critical for health and well-being as the majority of our health and well-being goals require daily prolonged effort.

Determination allows us to move beyond day-to-day living.” Not everyone is born with a fire in their belly, but it can be learned. Self-determination is something therapists and teachers help instill in people every day. In fact, about 62 percent of teachers often plan activities for students that will help them develop self-determination skills.

Many therapists focus on self-determination theory (SDT), which supports one’s personality traits and innate abilities to build their motivation. Of course, you’ll need to find some motivation to stick to what you learn, so sometimes you have to dig deep.

Control

“As we learn to look at the world as a series of events and situations that we can exert control over, we feel mastery and predictability. That allows us to remain calm, to be determined, and to take action,” says Dr. Klapow.

One study that shows the importance of self-control followed 1,000 children from birth to age 32. Those who continued to exhibit the highest amount of self-control through their lives were less likely to develop health problems, have a substance addiction, have low income, or commit a crime. A person with self-control understands that actions make a difference.

“It is not a matter of having false beliefs that we can control everything in our lives, but rather looking at situations and challenges and believing that our own actions can have an impact,” explains Dr. Klapow. “This results in less stress, more proactive behavior, and more opportunities to succeed.” The same study shows that people can foster their own self-control—7 percent of participants dramatically increased the skill on their own throughout the study.

The most important thing you can do to become master of your universe is to start looking at the bigger picture. How will your actions now affect you later? You’re less likely to start something that could drag you down later if you understand the risks now.

Optimism

Just because optimists believe that good things will happen to them doesn’t make them unrealistic; instead, it means they try to find the good in everything they do and see.  The University College London study, led by psychology professor Andrew Steptoe and his colleague Jane Wardle, showed that this key life skill, when combined with at least some of the other life skills, had profound impacts on our ability to take better care of our health and find success later in life.

A study in Clinical Psychology Review researched the impact of optimism alone on health and success and found that optimistic people are more resilient to life’s stressors, allowing them to move past negative aspects of their jobs and everyday lives more easily.  Optimists are also less likely to be re-hospitalized, develop heart disease, and have low immunity, and are more likely to live longer and healthier lives.

When it comes to future success, optimists have a lower college drop-out rate and are more persistent in achieving goals than pessimists. If you don’t always look on the bright side, you can still develop a greater sense of optimism. Cognitive behavior therapy is common for pessimists, as it focuses on changing thinking patterns to be more optimistic and productive. This intervention can even help those who feel they’re spiraling into depression from negative thoughts.

Conscientiousness

By definition, conscientious people are concerned with doing things correctly. They’re typically very organized, pay attention to details, and are generally responsible. A study in Frontiers of Psychology found that high conscientiousness more consistently determined one’s life satisfaction, income, and success than the other life skills examined, including emotional stability and cognitive ability.

Conscientiousness is a reliable predictor of academic grades, job performance, marital stability, and physical health. University of Illinois psychologist Brent Roberts told businessinsider.com, “Highly conscientious employees do a series of things better than the rest of us. [It] is like brushing your teeth. It prevents problems from arising.” These are people who like sticking to rules and achieving goals.

Determination is often a trait you’ll see in a conscientious person, so they’re more apt to be aware of what’s needed to be successful, stay healthy, and then stick to those norms.

According to Harvard Medical School, you can heighten your conscientiousness by hanging around conscientious people who can encourage positive behaviors. Also, make a specific schedule for yourself and follow it daily. If you have to, set reminders on your phone to get yourself in the habit of sticking to your plan.

BY AMY BOYINGTON
source: www.rd.com


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Fun Fact Friday

  • Optimistic people are 23% less likely to die of cancer and 30% less likely to die from heart diseases.
  • Porphyrophobia is the fear of the color purple.
  • When people feel physically cold, they seek out psychological warmth, like watching a romantic movie that will make them feel warm inside.
Optimistic people are 23% less likely to die of cancer
and 30% less likely to die from heart diseases.
  • Adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per day.
  • Eating mangos one hour before smoking marijuana can heighten the effects.
  • 85% of people have experienced a dream so real that they were not sure if it happened in real life or not.
Happy Friday!
 source:   factualfacts.com   https://twitter.com/Fact   @Fact


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The Easiest Way To Kill Stress And Tension

The simple instruction that reduces stress and increases energy and optimism.

The easiest way to kill stress and tension is:
Don’t be so hard on yourself!

People who are more compassionate towards themselves experience less stress, new research finds.

Self-compassion is also linked to more:

  • optimism,
  • feeling alive,
  • and energy.

The conclusions come from a study of students coping with their first year at college.

Dr Katie Gunnell, the study’s first author, said:

“Our study suggests the psychological stress students may experience during the transition between high school and university can be mitigated with self-compassion because it enhances the psychological needs of autonomy, competence, and relatedness, which in turn, enriches well-being.”

Self-compassion has three components, the study’s authors explain:

(1) self-kindness, which represents the ability to be caring and kind to ourselves rather than excessively critical,
(2) common humanity, which represents an understanding that everyone makes mistakes and fails and our experience is part of a larger common experience,
and (3) mindfulness, which represents being present and aware while keeping thoughts in balance rather than overidentifying.”

Professor Peter Crocker, a study co-author, said:

“Research shows first-year university is stressful.
Students who are used to getting high grades may be shocked to not do as well in university, feel challenged living away from home, and are often missing important social support they had in high school.
Self-compassion appears to be an effective strategy or resource to cope with these types of issues.”

self compassion

Develop self-compassion

One way to increase this sense of self-compassion is to carry out a writing exercise.

Think about a recent negative experience and write about it.

Crucially, though, you need to write about it while being compassionate towards yourself.

In other words: don’t be too critical and recognise that everyone makes mistakes.

The study was published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences (Gunnell et al., 2017).

source: PsyBlog


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Conquering Negative Thinking

Here’s a New Year’s challenge for the mind: Make this the year that you quiet all those negative thoughts swirling around your brain.

All humans have a tendency to be a bit more like Eeyore than Tigger, to ruminate more on bad experiences than positive ones. It’s an evolutionary adaptation that helps us avoid danger and react quickly in a crisis.

But constant negativity can also get in the way of happiness, add to our stress and worry level and ultimately damage our health. And some people are more prone to negative thinking than others. Thinking styles can be genetic or the result of childhood experiences, said Judith Beck, a psychologist and the president of the Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavior Therapy in Bala Cynwyd, Pa. Children may develop negative thinking habits if they have been teased or bullied, or experienced blatant trauma or abuse. Women, overall, are also more likely to ruminate than men, according to a 2013 study.

“We were built to overlearn from negative experiences, but under learn from positive ones,” said Rick Hanson, a psychologist and senior fellow at the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley.

But with practice you can learn to disrupt and tame negative cycles.

The first step to stopping negative thoughts is a surprising one. Don’t try to stop them. If you are obsessing about a lost promotion or the results of the presidential election, whatever you do, don’t tell yourself, “I have to stop thinking about this.”

“Worry and obsession get worse when you try to control your thoughts,” Dr. Beck said.

Instead, notice that you are in a negative cycle and own it. Tell yourself, “I’m obsessing about my bad review.” Or “I’m obsessing about the election.”

By acknowledging your negative cycle and accepting it, you are on your way to taming your negative thoughts. Acceptance is the basic premise of mindfulness meditation, a practice that helps reduce stress and reactivity. You don’t necessarily have to close your eyes and meditate every day to reap the benefits of mindfulness. You can remind yourself to notice your thoughts in a nonjudgmental manner, without trying to change or alter them right away.

Accepting negative thoughts can also help lessen their weight. Getting mad at yourself for worrying or telling yourself to stop worrying only adds fuel to the negativity fire.

After you’ve accepted a negative thought, force yourself to challenge it.

Let’s go back to the setback at work. Perhaps not getting the promotion made you worry about your overall competence and you were berating yourself about your skills. Ask yourself, “Why would one setback mean that I am incompetent?” Or you might ask, “What have I done in the past that shows I am actually a very competent worker?”

If you’re having trouble challenging your negative thoughts, try this approach. Imagine that your friend is the one who received the bad news. What advice would you give him or her? Now think of how that advice might apply to you.

optimism

A study conducted at Ohio State University found that this method — known as Socratic questioning — was a simple way to reduce depressive symptoms in adults. In the study, 55 adults were enrolled in a 16-week course of cognitive therapy sessions. Researchers studied videotapes of the sessions and found that the more frequently therapists used Socratic questioning, the more the patients’ depressive symptoms lessened. The study’s authors theorized that Socratic questioning helped patients examine the validity of their negative thoughts and gain a broader, more realistic perspective on them.

There will be times when your bleak thoughts are actually valid, but your projections about what’s next are not. Consider this scenario: Your partner has left you for someone else. “My partner doesn’t love me anymore,” might be accurate, said Dr. Beck, but “No one else will ever love me,” is probably not.

Now move from a place of inaction to action to counteract the negative thought. If you are worried about feeling unloved, check in with friends and family members. If you are feeling insecure at work, make a list of your accomplishments. Perhaps ask your best friend to write you a letter telling you all the ways in which you are a good, kind person. Reread the letter daily.

Dr. Hanson, author of “Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence,” said it may be helpful to ask yourself if you are accomplishing anything by dwelling on your negative thoughts. If you’re ruminating on your financial problems during a run around the track in hopes of finding a solution, then that is useful. But fretting for lap after lap about the president-elect or a foreign crisis is not going to accomplish anything.

When your negative thoughts are making you feel agitated and overwhelmed, take a deep breath, and then another. Practicing controlled breathing can help lower the stress response and calm anxious thoughts.

Finally, if your thoughts are making you feel seriously distressed and interfering with your ability to work and relax, consider seeing a mental health professional. Therapists who specialize in cognitive therapy, which teaches practical ways to cope with persistent and unwanted thoughts, may be particularly helpful. If the underlying source of your thoughts is clinical depression or intense anxiety, you might want to talk with a professional about the root cause of your negative thinking patterns and discuss medications that can be helpful.

While you are sorting out what approach works best for you, give yourself a break and have compassion for your overwrought thoughts.

“The more you dwell on the negative, the more accustomed your brain becomes to dwelling on the negative,” said Dr. Hanson, who suggests asking yourself, “Are my thoughts helping to build me up, or tear me down?”

 

By LESLEY ALDERMAN     JANUARY 3, 2017
 
source: nytimes.com