We know we can feel sad or upset when we are stressed, but did you know that being sad or upset may be making you more stressed? In turn, being stressed can weaken our immune system and increase our chances of disease. Anger, anxiety and sadness can all trigger our stress response and wear down our bodies.
Luckily the damage done by stress and anxiety can be undone by the ongoing practice of changing our state of mind.
Positive Psychology has found several emotional states that can contribute to greater emotional resilience, health and fulfillment. Just like we need to work to make our bodies stronger, there are ways to work to keep our minds and emotions stronger; to focus on positive feelings instead of our daily stresses, which can often consume us.
By taking time when we are stressed to focus on ourselves and channel our emotions, we can learn to calm our stress levels. Once we learn to get ourselves into these states of positive thought regularly, our stress levels can be lowered, our overall outlook changed and our health improved.
Gratitude– Simply focusing on the things we are thankful for in our lives and appreciating what we have can lead to satisfaction and happiness. We can maintain this state of mind through exercises such as a Gratitude Journal; recording a few things every day that we our thankful for.
Optimism– As simple as it sounds, simply guiding ourselves toward more optimistic thoughts can be a large help in avoiding stress. Optimists see the benefits in life and gearing our minds toward optimism is as simple as recognizing the good in life.
Flow– Having hobbies and activities that we enjoy can help our lives immensely. When we are engaged in something we truly enjoy we enter a state called, “flow.” This occurs when we are immersed in something so completely that we lose track of time. Entering this state is highly beneficial yet most of us don’t get enough of it.
Mindfulness – Most of us tend to focus so much on what we have to get done that even when we have a moment to relax our minds our consumed. Mindfulness is a state that involves being fully present in the “now.” Focus on where you are, not what needs to be done, or what could be done to improve your situation. While this seems simple, for most people it takes a lot of practice. When it can be achieved, its benefits are numerous.
It can take time and practice to make these states familiar to us, but once we do, our stress levels will lower and our overall health will improve.