Stress can cause us to behave in ways we normally wouldn’t.
That behaviour can impact upon what we think, how we feel, and vice versa.
This in turn can make us feel more stressed, leading to a ‘vicious cycle’ of negative thoughts, feelings and behaviour that can be hard to break.
These behaviours can often manifest themselves as:
- Drinking alcohol to excess
- Smoking more, or when you wouldn’t normally
- Overeating or undereating
- Withdrawing from social situations
- Angry outbursts
- Changes to sleep patterns
These are just a few examples, but as you can imagine there are consequences from this.
An angry outburst for example will lead to damaged relationships, uncomfortable situations, and more stress.
However, we can challenge negativity and learn to manage stress effectively.
By being self-aware and having perspective over what we do, we can pre-emptively avoid negativity and the stress it brings.
We can train ourselves to do this using a form of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy:
- Identify negative thoughts, feelings and behaviours and what triggers them
- Recognise that they are not beneficial to us
- Rationalise with ourselves and challenge negative self-talk – imagine the advice you’d give a friend in the same situation
- Choose an alternative path based on logical thinking
This can be difficult at times due to ‘cognitive restructuring’ – where thoughts, feelings and behaviours have been distorted by past experiences or long-held views.
However, with practice, we can learn to spot the triggers – often it can be something relatively minor, e.g. thinking that because we haven’t spoken at a work meeting for a while, that we must be inadequate or bad at our job.
However, using logic, you can simply put that down to other people taking their turn in the conversation. You don’t need to feel that way if you don’t want to.
To learn more about how to challenge negative thoughts, feelings and behaviours and break the vicious cycle, we advise taking our Coping with Stress eLearning course.