This last year has been horrendous. In that year its been quite a job to stay positive what with the pandemic, job losses, furloughed employees, concern about relatives health and everything else you care to mention. If you’ve found yourself having more than your share of negative thoughts then please read on as I explain how to avoid negative thoughts working from home.
2020 has been one of the most stressful years ever for so many people. Between the issues mentioned already combined with lock down, this has had the effect of magnifying everything – sometimes trivial issues we may have previously brushed off, or had a chat with friends or family has had more of a chance to get under the skin. If you think about working from home then this has probably seen more than its fair share of stress inducing moments. From the increase in emails to working alone day in and day out its easy to see how stress levels in people have risen much higher than normal. So how do we reduce stress and how do we try to prevent negative thoughts getting a grip in the first place?
Stress, from the Cambridge Dictionary states that it is a “great worry caused by a difficult situation or something that causes this condition” – this description pretty much sums up 2020 right there.
We may feel unsure, out of control, threatened, unhappy, or possibly feel that we cannot do as well as we want to. Continued and unchecked stress can lead to a range of both physical and emotional symptoms which will negatively affect our health.
Some physical symptoms of stress are:
- Racing or pounding heartbeat
- Muscles becoming tense
- Rising blood pressure
- Fast breathing
- Heightened senses
- Needing the toilet
If prolonged exposure to stress these may also be present:
- Chest pain
- Skin problems such as acne or psoriasis
- Loss of sex drive
- Weakened immune system, resulting in frequent colds and general bad health.
There are two main ways of dealing with stress – either we can tackle the cause of the stress, or in some cases, if the stress is as a result of something unavoidable (such as this last year, or moving house for example) then we can try to alleviate the symptoms of stress.
So, how do we alleviate the symptoms?
With so many issues in this modern world one of the easiest ways to alleviate stress is to take some time out, not just from work but from (and this is one of the worst offenders) social media, that includes watching news. I know myself that I’m currently watching way more news bulletins than I used to. This doesn’t help so please try to limit time spent watching news items and of course avoid as much social media as possible. If you must then limit yourself to a certain amount of time per day. Many phones already have social media controls in place so you can limit the amount of time on them. I found that just by doing this it reduces the time spent on the phone and, as a consequence, less time reading negative or alarming stories.
As obvious, and as cliche’d as it sounds, getting exercise and eating healthy will also help in tackling the symptoms of stress. Getting regular exercise, especially outdoors, will ensure that you should be able to get a good nights sleep.
Consider trying meditation as this is a great way to de-stress and focus on the here and now (rather than what has happened or worrying about things you have no control over).
Rather than accepting negative thoughts – we should challenge them!
Now that last idea is way more complex. Challenging negative thoughts may involve challenging ideas that have been with us for years or have been ingrained in us by peers, parents, teachers or even relationships.
Negative thoughts can include things like:
- I am not good enough
- I am not as good as………
- I do not deserve…
- I always do………wrong
- No one likes me…….
- I am not attractive / clever / smart …………
Its important to firstly realise that we are having these negative thoughts and admit to ourselves that that’s what they are, just thoughts. However, we need to challenge them as well.
We need to be asking “Is this right?”, “What evidence do I have of this?” and “Would you talk to yourself the way you are talking to yourself?”.
As with many other problems, sometimes the hardest part is realising that we have a problem and admitting that in the first place. Once we are able to recognise these negative thoughts then we can begin to address them. However, if they have been ingrained in us, it is not a quick fix and will take some time.
One way of keeping track of these negative thoughts is by just writing them down. This may seem like a fruitless idea but keeping a journal or notebook is one of the best, and easiest ways to keep track. Remember, what we said earlier, that recognising that you are having these negative thoughts is one of the first things to do to overcome them.
So in your journal write down what the negative thought is. Then write down what evidence you have for this thought and then come up with a positive thing to tell yourself instead. The act of writing it down will reinforce it for you and hopefully it will become better over time.
What is the negative thought?
I am not good enough for anyone
What evidence supports this?
I do not have a girlfriend
What can I tell myself instead?
I just haven’t found the right person yet but I need to keep looking
Keep writing the journal and you will quickly realise how negative your thoughts are. By writing down alternatives then it becomes easier in time to turn them round into positive thoughts as soon as they pop into your head.
Learn To Relax
There are many different ways to relax and as we have mentioned previously exercise and healthy eating certainly will go a long way to helping. If your looking for ways to exercise then I can recommend a couple of articles HERE and HERE. One such way is by using breathing exercises – as simple as counting to 3 as you breathe in and then count to 3 as you breathe out again. By focusing on your breathing, and not on anything else you allow yourself to relax. Just take a few minutes each day and grab some quiet time, with no distractions and try the breathing technique. It WILL help.
Having a picture in your mind is a good idea too, so when you are breathing slowly, picture a tranquil scene in your minds eye. A quiet beach with the waves gently lapping on to the shore, or just imagine you lying on a bed of clouds are a couple of images you can use to be calm.
The breathing technique is a very simple form of meditation and you can find a great a resource over HERE to help you get the most from meditating. I can recommend.
I hope you found this article useful. If you have any questions or comments then please just let me know in the comments below. I would, as always, love to hear from you.
As ever, and especially just now, take care.