When you're not eyeballs-deep in a project, or in the flow of a present activity, do you replay old arguments and conversations in your head? According to Marcia Reynolds in this Psychology Today article, your brain is wired to "scan, register, store and recall unpleasant more than positive experiences." She goes on to say that "stress from memories and worries is just as toxic to your body as if the experiences were happening in the moment," and the "thought of a stressful event has the same detrimental effect on the body as the original occurrence."
That explains some people I know whose physical health is a direct reflection of their mental health. I happen to know they are either worriers, or are replaying the past.
Ms. Reynolds has this advice for how you can change your internal dialogue for the better.
TIP #1: Breathe.
No brainer, I know. But taking a minute a few times a day to notice, and then focus on, your breathing is one of meditation's tricks to helping a slew of biological functions.
TIP #2: Identify what your brain is saying to you.
How is this done? You "have a conversation with your brain when the past events or worries show up." What could have been done differently in that past situation? Write that down and consider it done. It's your brain's job to try to protect you from future events. So if it's worry that's choking you, thank your brain, and concentrate on thoughts that are more productive.
TIP #3: Choose your emotions.
I could not agree more! Although it may not seem like it at times, YOU are in charge of your emotions, NOT visa versa. "You are much more creative, productive and fun to be with when you feel happy, amused, grateful, proud, and enthusiastic about the future. Notice what you are feeling and then choose how you want to feel instead. Your thoughts are likely to change as well."
TIP#4: Forgive yourself for being human.
Ever beat yourself up with that past event? It's part of being human. But you must forgive yourself for your imperfections—if you were perfect, you'd be a robot! You're not, so forgive and, by all means, forget about it. If you can laugh about it, even better.
You can improve your health by consciously reducing stressors you can control—like what your brain is replaying or worrying about. Just for today, try these four steps, and let me know how it goes? And a blue bucket of good juju to you in the meantime.
Thanks for reading!
Good juju-spreader, storyteller, graphic designer. I'd love to hear from you!