Managing stress positively – by positive thinking
What stories are you and your employees telling?
Life is all about stories – stories are told every day. People go home from work and tell their partners, friends, and families stories about their working day, and often these may include ‘what the boss said, did, or how they treated you that day’. However, maybe the manager went home and told their family and friends a completely different version about how their member of staff reacted or how they behaved. If an outsider was listening to those two stories, would they know they were about the same two people?
The question is what story are you telling yourself, and are you creating, or indeed contributing to, your own stress?
Stress is a word that is used frequently. Most people have an idea what stress is and how it affects the body and how too much of it creates problems. So why is stress the biggest cause of absence in the UK? Is it a modern day problem or have people become less resilient to stress, or are the stories people are telling themselves somehow part of the problem? Do people need to refine their personal narrative and do thinking patterns need addressing? Do people need to change their stories to a more positive one – one that is empowered and optimistic?
Positive thinking has so many benefits:
- Optimism can have an impact on people’s pain threshold and how pain is perceived
- It can boost the immune system
- It enables a person to cope better with stressors and improves their resilience
- Cardiac and depression risk scores are reduced, with recent research indicating dementia is seen less in people who have positive thinking
Reframing the way a person thinks is a tool that is used in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and it is something everyone can benefit from trying to do. A key to positive thinking is to try to accept that events or situations do not have inherent meaning; it’s just that people ‘choose’ to assign a meaning based on how the event is interpreted. For instance, even when something seemingly horrible happens, it is only ‘horrible’ because of the way it is looked at. This is not to make light of tragedy. It’s perfectly ok to be sad when something seemingly bad occurs. That being said, even a ‘bad’ event can be given a ‘good’ meaning.
Here are some examples:
- Instead of thinking ‘my to do list is so long, I am never going to get anything done’
try thinking ‘if I do one task at a time, I might surprise myself with how much I get done today’
- Instead of thinking ‘I always make the wrong choices’, try instead to think about the positive choices which have been made in the past, acknowledging there have been negative aspects to decisions been made, but take what you have learnt from that as a positive.
Another technique is to challenge negative thoughts and changing the wording to softer words, for example changing the word ‘hate’ to ‘not like/enjoy’.
Why not see if tonight, when you go home, you can put a more positive spin on the story you tell your family and friends? Every day, keep practicing this and, over time, it will become more natural and much more healthier.
Reframe your thinking, reduce stress levels, and learn to live a happier and healthier life.
For more information about how Lincoln Occupational Health can help you please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0844 481 0093 where our team will be happy to help.