Use self-talk and thought surfing to reduce stress
Self-talk and thought surfing are two things everyone can start doing to help manage and reduce stress.
The holidays for many mean personal and inter-personal stress. Most personal stress doesn’t come from outside sources, but from how we interpret, internalize or view situations. One practice that can help keep stress at bay is to identify your self-talk. Self-talk is often so habitual that people are unaware that they are doing it at all. If you are going to manage your stress, you need to be aware of these thoughts as they happen. Take some time to notice the things you say to yourself during your day.
Assess your self-talk. Is it negative or positive? If it is negative, ask yourself these questions:
- Is there any evidence for this thought?
- Is there any evidence against it?
- Is this the way I would talk to a friend who was in my position?
- Are there any more positive ways of viewing this situation?
- Am I keeping things in perspective?
- Even if there is some validity to this thought, is it useful spending your energy thinking about it?
Changing your negative self-talk is no easy task. One way to start practicing is to start being more mindful of your thought patterns. This one strategy of paying attention to thought patterns is called thought surfing. Thought surfing is just noticing the range and intensity that emotions, feelings or urges have on your body and accepting them for what they are without acting upon them and without any judgement. This practice allows us to channel our emotions to peak and pass, to move like waves, ebbing and flowing without judgment. Keep in mind that most of the time, our thoughts make up the worst case scenarios that usually never come to fruition.
Giving yourself time to feel that emotion or thought run through your body without interrupting it with judgement or negative self-talk is a practice that increases self regulation and resilency to stress.
Being mindful of your thought patterns is one form of mindfulness. Another is to pay attention to sensory stimulation. Being mindful of what we are seeing, smelling, touching, tasting and feeling is a practice to keep our body and mind working together to stay grounded or to be present in the moment. Mindfulness brings out a more vivid picture of your surroundings and enhances the people who have helped contribute to the moment.
Don’t wait for a holiday to take time to be mindful of your surroundings and the people who helped mold or develop the moments you experience. Mindfulness leads to memories that last a lifetime! Want to know more about mindfulness and stress reduction? Participate in one of Michigan State University Extension’s stress management community-based programs. Stress Less with Mindfulness and RELAX: Alternatives to Anger both provide stress management practices. Peruse their website to locate where programs are being offered though out the state.