Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Living - - FOCUS -

Our abil­ity to be mo­ti­vated and pur­pose­ful often de­pends on how we choose to in­ter­pret a stress­ful event. We all know that per­son in the of­fice (and that per­son may be you) who al­ways looks on the neg­a­tive side: Why does that al­ways hap­pen to me? Just my luck! Why do I never get a pro­mo­tion? It’s al­ways me that’s be­ing over­looked. The prob­lem with this kind of vic­tim men­tal­ity is that it tends to be self-ful­fill­ing. By con­stantly think­ing in this way we’re train­ing our­selves to be­come that neg­a­tive per­son. We all have bad things hap­pen to us. But how we frame our par­tic­u­lar sit­u­a­tion is a choice. This fram­ing is some­thing we all do, all the time, whether we re­alise it or not. And you’ll do your­self an enor­mous favour if you take con­trol of how you’re fram­ing your life and make it work for you rather than against you.

There’s plenty of fan­tas­tic ev­i­dence that shows we can gain huge ben­e­fits from al­ter­ing the way we view our daily stresses. One 2012 study found that if we change the way we think about a stress­ful event we can im­prove our phys­i­cal health and also the way our brain re­acts to Mi­cro Stress Doses (MSDS).

Com­pared to the group who didn’t, the par­tic­i­pants in this study who re­framed their MSDS had lower blood pres­sure, higher at­ten­tion lev­els and even im­proved ef­fi­ciency of their heart mus­cle. When we re­frame a stress­ful ex­pe­ri­ence, not only does it feel good but we ben­e­fit from pow­er­ful phys­i­o­log­i­cal changes in our body. We’ve helped mit­i­gate the dam­age that MSDS can do sim­ply by look­ing at the prob­lem in a dif­fer­ent way.

When you’re in the mid­dle of an MSD swarm, your emo­tional brain be­comes dom­i­nant and your ra­tio­nal brain is side­lined so you’re un­able to look at things log­i­cally.

You often tend to dwell on sit­u­a­tions that you find dis­tress­ing or up­set­ting, or when you re­play a prob­lem over and over again in your mind. In the short term, it may feel as though this is help­ing; in the long term, it will be dam­ag­ing. You will be train­ing your emo­tional brain to be­come more pow­er­ful, which in turn makes it more likely that you will spend time ru­mi­nat­ing in the fu­ture, and so it’s more likely that you will be­come anx­ious.

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