Unmanaged mental and emotional reactions to stress present a more dangerous risk factor for cancer and heart disease than cigarette smoking or eating high cholesterol foods” (University Of London School Of Medicine). Stress is not the result of external circumstances. No event is inherently stressful and no one makes us feel stressed. Stress is a function of how we perceive and thus respond to people and events.
- Interpretation of events and habitual thinking patterns often exacerbate stress.
- Negative self-talk.
- Catastrophizing situations.
- Exaggerating the negative and discounting the positive.
- Mind reading – thinking you know the minds of other people.
- Being the expert.
- Shoulds – list of unbreakable rules for self.
- Blaming others for your suffering.
- Mindfulness is one proven approach for decreasing symptoms of stress and anxiety.
Mindfulness is being fully aware of whatever is happening in the present moment, an observation of mind and body through calm and focused awareness. RAIN, acronym for mindful self-inquiry:
R = recognize when a strong emotion is present
A = acknowledge it’s there
I = investigate the thoughts, emotions and body
N = non-identify with whatever is there
With increased awareness of your own mind traps, you can choose to look at the situation differently or to view your thoughts as simply events, rather than facts.