February 2020

Is it time to reduce your stress and take control of your thinking?

Our Behavioural Specialist, Nicola Jackson explores how we can take better control of our thought processes to reduce stress and build greater resilience.

Posted by: morgan

Our Behavioural Specialist, Nicola Jackson explores how we can take better control of our thought processes to reduce stress and build greater resilience.

“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another”
William James

Be honest, when was the last time that you took a pause and really reflected on your bad or unhelpful habits that are actually blocking you from being the best version of yourself? Whilst we often start the New Year full of wonderful resolutions to eat less, sleep better, stop being a victim and take control of our lives, how many of these have usually fallen by the wayside, come the first week of February? And crucially, how often do we really consider that the bad habits that we have developed are actually related to our own perceptions and ways of thinking?

Irrational thought patterns and overly hasty emotional reactions are among the leading causes of stress and anxiety

There are many stimuli pushing our stress buttons on a daily basis and the reality is that these stimuli are unlikely to reduce. But it isn’t all bad news – amongst the madness and mayhem of life there is one very important thing that we all have control over… our thinking!

It is possible to change your thinking and, with this, change your emotional and physical responses to any situation, no matter how challenging it is. Being more mindful of your thinking patterns and how they are driving your behaviours can have a profound effect on the way you navigate the workplace, your relationships and your life. If you want to build your resilience to reduce stress and increase your sense of control, getting to grips with your thought patterns and understanding the impact they have on your life is the best place to start.

Assumptions – How to tackle the enemy within

Your perception of the world around you is not necessarily the same as what is actually occurring

How many of us have had an extreme reaction to an event, only to learn later that our reaction was actually based on incorrect assumptions? If we had sought out the facts from credible sources, would that response have been different? When we make assumptions, we convince ourselves that something is true with very little evidence to back it up. This then becomes problematic when that ‘something’ has the power to influence our thinking and our interactions with others.

Making assumptions can lead to over-generalising, catastrophising and having an overly simplistic or ‘black and white’ perspective. These assumptions can take you down a rabbit hole of negative thinking and result in unhealthy behaviours.

Have you ever considered how making assumptions can damage your relationships and limit your creativity?

Attempting to engage with someone who is obstinate in their certainty about how future events will unfold can be a frustrating experience. It leaves us feeling misunderstood or judged, with opportunities for developing a positive narrative about the situation most likely to be missed. Such assumptions can damage relationships and limit possibilities, seriously impeding our ability to relate to and build trust with one another. And so much research highlights that poor relationships have a huge impact on the level of stress that we suffer in the workplace. If we aim for our actions to be guided by facts rather than our knee jerk assumptions, this would significantly improve relationships and reduce stress and anxiety at work and at home!

But why do we make so many assumptions? And how can we help our brains to make less of the unhelpful ones? Our brains are predisposed to make them, creating ‘mental models’, in order to help them work more efficiently, enabling us to move more easily through routine tasks. However, assumptions can also come from learned behaviours, and, much like biases, are developed as a result of our upbringing: family; cultural norms and personal experiences. All of this helps to create patterns of thinking that we often unwittingly apply throughout our lives. Recognising this and taking steps to be more mindful of how assumptions are impacting your actions and behaviours can be a liberating experience. Here are some tips to help you get started:

Increase your curiosity:

  • Gather factual information from a range of reliable sources to help to increase your understanding of the ‘bigger picture’ and develop a more accurate view of the circumstances
  • Find out what others are really thinking by engaging in good quality conversations and use active listening to understand other peoples’ perspectives and views. Choose to listen to understand instead of listening to respond
  • Use a mentor or trusted advisor to help you identify and address unhelpful thinking patterns or tendencies
  • Start to be mindful of all of the assumptions that you make, writing them down can help to identify any particular patterns or themes. Ask yourself ‘what evidence do I have to support my thoughts or perceptions?’

Would you like to learn more about how to challenge your assumptions, build your resilience and reduce your stress levels at work and at home?

Our half day masterclass is an opportunity to explore in more detail the concepts around how to create a more positive mindset, build resilience and reduce your stress levels in the workplace and at home. You’ll leave the session with some practical exercises to enable you to connect with a calmer you, feeling empowered to develop levels of resilience that you never thought possible! 

In order to find out more, please contact us at: Admin@morganjamesconsulting.co.uk and ask for information on Resilience Masterclasses or call us on 01606 883383 or 07787 257940  and ask for Nicola.

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