Experts reveal impact of negative thoughts on mental health and how to overcome them

Updated on Jul 19, 2021 02:25 PM IST  |  157K
   
Impact of negative thoughts on mental health and how to overcome them
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Remember, just because a thought is in your head, does not mean it is real. In fact, it won’t be incorrect to say that those that will survive and thrive in the next evolution of humanity will be the ones who can manage their minds effectively!

Evolutionary speaking, survival is prioritized over happiness. We originated from cavemen who were designed to look out for danger and somewhere that system still exists in our bodies, referred to as ‘negativity bias’ where we look out for danger and threat in order to be safe. 

Think about it, if one thing went wrong for you today and hundreds went right, you are more likely to think of the one thing that went wrong and let that dominate your day - isn’t that true? Luckily, it is possible to ‘rewire’ our brains, but first let us talk about the impact of negative thoughts on our physical and mental health. They aren’t separate. Health includes both your physical and mental health. It’s all in one system – when one area is off, the other will eventually be off as well.

Our body’s natural way of responding to any kind of demand or threat is ‘stress’. When we think negatively or sense danger - whether real or imagined - the body’s defences kick into the ‘fight-or-flight mode, also known as the ‘stress response.’ It is our body’s way of defence to actually protect us.

When our life is seemingly in danger, our brain declares an emergency, alarms in the body go off, all our focus shifts towards the issue at hand and all our growth mechanisms go offline. Our digestive system, immune system, all of the systems that are needed for growth for life in essence, which are not needed in this very moment while we are handling this issue at hand, while the body is in survival mode, get switched off ‘literally’. And you have no access to intelligence. You don’t need your immune system or digestive system if you are running away from, let’s say lions that are chasing you, right? Your body pumps all the energy into your extremities so that you can run faster or fight harder! 

The problem with human beings though is that we live in a modern world where there are no real lions chasing us. Today, we carry in our mind all possible thoughts no matter where we are! The unpleasant discussion with the boss is carried home, just as any negative feelings with the argument with a spouse is carried to work, the pressure of deadlines, mountains of bills, uncertainty about the future, disagreement with a friend or children are constantly playing on our minds!

As a result of this long-term stress, our immune systems or digestive systems are shut down for long periods of time and weakened. We are not at our most resourceful selves leading to anxiety and depression. For some people, it becomes a pattern to see and filter everything through their automatic negative thoughts. So even in a potentially low or no stress environment, they end up stressing and imagining the worst possible scenario.

So how do we win this war against negative thoughts?

With mindfulness - to be in the present moment with acceptance and non-judgement, where you are not thinking of the past or worrying about the future.

With Gratitude - Journaling gratitude is known to train the mind to focus on the positive.

By focusing on what you want, rather than what you don’t want.

Being aware of your thoughts and consciously breaking the pattern to continue thinking negative because you know it doesn’t serve you.

Having an exercise routine - is the best antidote to negative thinking patterns.

Breathing and meditation - proven by research to calm your mind.

About the author: Ms Urvashi, Emotional wellbeing coach.

Also Read:  4 Ways for introverts to survive in this extroverted world

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