By Diane Dillon, PhD.
It is not the stress itself that creates immune system problems. It is, rather, the perception that the stress is inescapable…Perception can always be changed. And that is the key to getting and staying well!
-- Christiane Northrup, MD, Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom
Here’s what I know about myself. When I am very stressed, my first reaction to a difficulty is likely to be negative and unhelpful. In a split second, the conversation in my head might go like this:
Since experiencing some stress in life is unavoidable, it’s essential that we monitor our internal dialogue. We need to pay attention to our thoughts and learn to speak to ourselves in helpful, affirming ways.
Here are some helpful steps to practice to reframe stressful thoughts:
First ground yourself:
Then, choose new thoughts:
Change your thoughts to modify your emotions with a reframe that will bring you greater comfort, hope and balance.
Changing our thoughts is a process that can be difficult. We may benefit from getting a better understanding of where some of our self-destructive thoughts and beliefs come from. We can also benefit from the support of others—a therapist, a friend, a support group. It can be comforting just knowing that we are not alone.
Finally, BE GENTLE with yourself. A favorite quote of mine is “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle” (Philo 30 BCE – 40 CE). Remembering that we are all fallible, worthwhile human beings and each fighting our own “battles” can go a long way in relieving our stress. If you do nothing else, start by being kind to yourself!
Diane Dillon, Ph.D. is the Life Management Practitioner at Canyon Ranch in Lenox.