“I am so stressed out!”

“I can’t sleep. I’ve got too much to do tomorrow—will I ever get it all done?”

“I have no money. I hate my life”

Do any of these thoughts sound familiar to you?

Excessive thinking/worrying is a common symptom of stress. As our bodies pump more adrenaline into our brain, our thoughts jumble up and our thinking gets all out of whack.

On top of that, negative thinking leads to stress. There are a few strategies you can use to combat negative thinking patterns. Here are four we suggest.

Start Meditating

Before you write meditation off as some hookey new-age obsession, consider what science has to say about it.

According to Harvard researchers, meditation has a powerful ability to change the way we view our thoughts.

Instead of hanging on to each and every worrisome thought as if it were a universal truth, meditation teaches us to let go of them and recognize them for what they are—just thoughts.

In fact, meditation has become a widely used alternative treatment for stress. Try to use it by etching out 10 minutes each day to sit quietly and focus on your breathing. Thoughts WILL intrude, but your goal is not to eliminate them, but to train yourself to go back to the breath, again and again.

Use Breathing Exercises

Similar to meditation, breathing exercises help us refocus on the present moment. Breathing in to a count of 5, and breathing out to a count of 5 can trigger relaxation of the parasympathetic system—the system responsible for fight or flight, better known as stress. You can alter this count to suit your preferences. Don’t let ‘getting it perfect’ stop you from practicing.

This technique can also be used to combat long-term symptoms of stress like high blood pressure, access weight gain, and cardiovascular disease.

Become Aware of Them

When you start feeling stressed out, start paying attention to your thoughts. Better yet, do this consistently so you can prevent stress altogether.

Label your thoughts and put them in categories like “worry,” “anxiety,” “happiness” etc. When you identify which thoughts cause negative reactions, you can identify them for what they are and then call it something else. For example “anxiety” is often misunderstood as “excitement”.

Write it On Paper

If you find the above techniques don’t dwell on your racing-thoughts, the next step is to write them down. The simple act of writing can relieve anxiety and stress. Mapping out the situation physically gives your mind a break. Use a journal every day if you find yourself stressing more than usual.

When it comes to treatments for stress, we always recommend natural remedies. We hope you’ll find these four techniques beneficial in combating negative thoughts for good.

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