Saturday, March 29, 2014

Wellness Tips- Little Investment with Great Returns

One huge component of holistic wellness is the mental element, for I would be so bold as to say all wellness starts with your mind set. Thoughts lead to feelings, feelings lead to actions, and actions lead to results! So, without spending a wad of cash on a therapist or coach, I'm going to discuss three common thought patterns that get us in trouble all the time. If you can be aware of this stinking thinking, and remedy it when it rears it's ugly head, you are guaranteed to feel more balanced, positive and in control of your mental, emotional, spiritual and physical states.  

The first culprit is Jumping to Conclusions. When this nasty villain is working it's magic on us, without individuals saying so, we know what they are feeling and why they act the way they do. In particular, we are able to determine how people are feeling toward us. For example, a person may conclude that someone is reacting negatively toward them but doesn’t actually bother to find out if they are correct. Another example is a person may anticipate that things will turn out badly, and will feel convinced that their prediction is already an established fact.
So, how do you untwist this thinking? By using the Survey Method: ask people questions to determine whether your thoughts and feelings are realistic. Often times by opening up a dialogue with people, we are able to see that our made up explanations of other peoples behavior are bogus, and even laughable. It is truly freeing when you realize that other peoples worlds don't revolve around us, and our negative perceptions are just that, perceptions. 
The second cognitive distortion on this list is Filtering. When filtering, we take the negative details and magnify them while filtering out all positive aspects of a situation. For instance, a person may pick out a single, unpleasant detail and dwell on it exclusively so that their vision of reality becomes darkened or distorted.
Free your mind by using the Examine the Evidence technique: Instead of assuming that your negative thought is true, examine the actual evidence for it. For example, if you feel that you never do anything right, you could list several things you have done successfully. This allows you to see a more accurate and complete picture of the situation, and can often relieve stress and anxiety. 

Last but not least is Polarized Thinking (Black and white thinking) In polarized thinking, things are either “black-or-white.” We have to be perfect or we’re a failure — there is no middle ground. You place people or situations in “either/or” categories, with no shades of gray or allowing for the complexity of most people and situations. If your performance falls short of perfect, you see yourself as a total failure.
As humans, we are guilty of this negative thought pattern far more than most of us are aware, so what can we do to remedy it? Thinking in Shades of gray: Although this method may sound drab, the effects can be illuminating. Instead of thinking about your problems in all-or-nothing extremes, evaluate things on a scale of 0 to 100. When things don't work out as well as you hoped, think about the experience as a partial success rather than a complete failure. See what you can learn from the situation. Finding the gray area on a regular basis will liberate you. 

Those are some remedies for a few of the common thinking distortions. If you can identify those distortions as they come up, with some practice you can train your brain to immediately find some positive alternatives to your negative Nelly thought patterns. Using cognitive-behavioral therapy techniques on a regular basis can completely transform your life, and how you see the world. With some awareness, desire and discipline, you will become a way happier captain of your own ship. 

Jennifer Szabo
Certified Wellness Counselor
Certified Life Coach
Licensed Zumba Fitness Instructor

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