We are often asked "what are you thinking?". Instead we could be asked "how are you thinking?". Faulty thinking or cognitive distortion, is a contributor to our stress. This is when we habitually engage in certain patterns of thoughts frequently, without realising we are doing it. Examples are over-generalising without sufficient evidence or exaggerating negative situations or using feelings to reason with or feeling responsible for things that are not our fault or jumping to conclusions amongst others. When something perceived as bad happens, our core belief (often unconscious) forms an unhelpful thought. The thought then create the feeling or emotion.
Stress is the body's way of coping in a challenging situation and in small doses it can be helpful. When we think that something is worth being anxious about we trigger our fight & flight response which sets off physiological reactions to enable our body to deal with it. Our heart beats faster and blood pressure goes up to deliver more oxygen and blood sugar to the muscles, digestion slows down, the immune system is activated, hearing and sight are attuned to high levels, high energy is expended so that the body is ready to run or fight. If we don't have a release for this energy, for example, in the form of exercise, we can become aggressive or sensitive and even a slight situation such as running late for work, or a meal not ready on time, can trigger our defences. Over time with the build up of stress, any little frustration may be met with a negative reaction.
Start by learning "how" we think and we can begin to change the negative thinking patterns that are a main contributor to stress.