There are a lot of things we can not control in this world, but one thing we can control are our own thoughts and actions that we do and think on a daily basis. And what better time than now to look inward and see how we can change ourselves and our thoughts for the better.
What am I thinking? And why am I thinking this way? Are these thoughts beneficial to myself and those around me or are they just fueling fears? Can these fears better my life in some way, or are they only negative thoughts feeding mine and others fear-mongering minds?
Don’t get me wrong a little fear to an extent is good for everyone, but letting it consume us does no one, including our own health, any good. According to Carnegie Mellon University, “Researchers have found that chronic psychological stress is associated with the body losing its ability to regulate the inflammatory response. The research shows for the first time that the effects of psychological stress on the body’s ability to regulate inflammation can promote the development and progression of disease.” Sheldon Cohen led a research team at this university, and one of their studies showed the following:
“After completing an intensive stress interview, 276 healthy adults were exposed to a virus that causes the common cold and monitored in quarantine for five days for signs of infection and illness. Here, Cohen found that experiencing a prolonged stressful event was associated with the inability of immune cells to respond to hormonal signals that normally regulate inflammation. In turn, those with the inability to regulate the inflammatory response were more likely to develop colds when exposed to the virus.” – SCIENCE DAILY
So, what does this mean? It means the more stress a person is under, the harder it is for the immune system to do its job, and in turn, the stress will essentially promote the disease. Let the things go that you can not control, and put your focus on things you can control, like being a more positive asset to your family, community or the world. Help others around you by encouraging positive thinking. Instead of adding to someone’s fears, tell them a joke; encourage putting a smile on their face instead of more fear in the minds. Help to reduce their stress in some way instead of adding to it.
Hear are a few ideas to try for yourself and maybe even share with someone you would like to help relax:
1. Journaling. This is a great way to get those fears out, without spreading that negativity onto others. Write anything that comes to mind, whether it makes sense or not, positive or negative. Just write. Try giving yourself a time frame to reach, like writing anything for five minutes.
Example: apple, I want to be more positive, Milo, I want to be surrounded by positive energy, I have cat hair on my finger, I’m getting a little hungry or actually I think I just need a glass of water, Oooo tomorrow is Thursday, no wait I think tomorrow is Friday, yes it’s Friday, I’m not sure why I’m excited about that, weird, taqulia, gaming, healthy, everyone is healthy and happy, smile, oh Mila looks so cute…
Maybe the journaling gets out those negative energies, maybe it inspires something new in you or maybe it makes you laugh. Whatever it does, it can have some very positive affects on your mind and body.
2. Meditation. I’ve mentioned meditation in the past, and it can be a wonderful way to calm a worried and stressful mind. There are many different types of meditation; guided meditation, mantra meditation, mindfulness meditation, Qi gong, Tai Chi, Transcendental meditation and Yoga. Research each one, and maybe even try each one and see which one you like the best. I have tried the following:
Guided meditation usually consists of someone talking you through the meditation from start to finish. I like this type for someone just starting out with meditation because I found it easier when I was just starting out meditating to focus on someone’s voice, and my mind was less likely to wander when I was focusing on what someone was saying. This is also a great meditation even if you are not a beginner, if you are just having a hard time getting your mind to focus on its own.
Mantra meditation consists of silently repeating a calming word or phrase. This type of mediation helps to focus your attention on just that mantra, and by choosing something that’s calming helps to calm the mind as well. The word “Om” (pronounced “Aum”), which is my personal favorite, is a very popular mantra to use in meditation, and it represents “soul”, or “self within”.
Mindfulness Meditation is when you focus on the present, such as your breath work; breathe in and focus on your lungs expanding and the air filling them and exhale out, focusing on your lungs and abdomen squeezing out all the air. As thoughts come into your mind, you let them pass through without concentrating on them.
Tai Chi is slow paced, and it focuses on balancing the Yin and the yang, and it’s sometimes referred to as “meditation in motion”. This form of meditation not only can calm the mind, but according to Harvard Medical School it increases muscle strength, your flexibility and balance through its gentle flow of movements.
Yoga is the last type of meditation I have experienced. There are many different types of yoga, but this form of meditation focuses your attention on your breathing and many different poses. So instead of being in your head, you are forced to focus on the present, giving your mind that much needed break. All the while you are creating more muscle strength, learning better breathing techniques and promoting more flexibility throughout your body.
3. Vision Board. Sometimes, a lot of times, we need help keeping our mind in the positive and hopeful. Especially right now. But a great way to encourage our minds to stay the course of a positive and hopeful mind frame is to put it right in front of us by creating a vision board. What is a vision board exactly? Well, it’s anything positive you want to focus on for your future; anything you want to bring into your life. Maybe you want to be an amazing artist, who travels around the world; or maybe you are someone who wants a more peaceful life, with a job that you love and lots of positive people around you, or maybe you want positive health for you, your family and the rest of the world. No matter the subject matters, the vision board is a way to focus your intentions on those particular goals and to send them out to the universe, God(s), Goddess(es), the Devine, spirit guides or whomever you choose; sending your message out to whatever is out there and letting them know that you are ready to move forward in a positive way.
Vision boards don’t make things happen immediately but after 3 months, 6 months, a year, take a moment and reflect onto your life in respect to your vision board. Maybe one of your intentions was to be that famous artist traveling around the world. You may not be quite there yet, but you could have changed jobs where you are working in the industry that could help you get to where you want to go.
Now that you know what a vision board is, let’s talk about the ways to make one. So, before the booming of technically, one way I would make a vision board is with cardboard and old magazines. It doesn’t matter what size carboard you use; from the piece that comes on the back of a school notebook to the larger ones you can get at a craft store. You could even recycle a box by flattening it out. From there I would cut out any pictures out the magazines that had something to do with my intention. It could be words or images, colors, ideas, etc. Then glue them onto the board. You could also do this same thing by searching for these things on the internet and printing them out and gluing them onto the board. Take it one step further and use some markers and draw words or whatever comes to mind having to do with what you want for your future. Once completed, put it someplace you will see it every day. One more way to do a vision board, is to create one on your computer with different images you find on the internet and use it as a screen saver and your home image on your phone.
4. Affirmations. Something I love to do, that has helped me with many things through out my life are affirmations. An affirmation is a positive phrase that you say out loud or to yourself throughout the day, or whenever you feel the need to. I personally have a few that I say repeatedly whenever I am driving. I felt weird at first, but then I caught a glimpse of people either talking on their phones or singing and realized that I don’t necessarily know what someone is saying in their car while they are driving, nor do I care, so why do I feel weird saying affirmations? It makes me feel better about myself and my life and that’s all that matters. So, if you ever see me driving down the road by myself, you now know I may be singing, talking on the phone but most likely I’m repeating my affirmations.
Affirmations are a great way to affirm something into fruition into your life. They need to be positive in their entirety, so instead of saying, “I am not sick”, because you are just repeating the word sick, you would rephase that to say, “I am healthy”. Like vision boards, affirmations don’t happen overnight, but once you start doing them, reflect on where you are after a year, and you just might be surprised.
Research these things and give one or all a try. Pass these ideas onto someone you think may need something to reduce their stress levels. Being positive doesn’t mean you are ignoring what’s going on around you, it just means you choose to not dwell on the things you can not change, and you are making the conscious decision to keep your mind healthy. A healthy mind leads to a healthier body and in turn a healthier life. Stay positive. Keep your head up and inspire positive change.
Sources: https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/meditation/in-depth/meditation/art-20045858 https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120402162546.htm https://www.yogajournal.com/yoga-101/the-beginner-s-guide-to-common-chants https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Om https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-health-benefits-of-tai-chi