Did you know that when we hear bad news, it has a greater effect on us in lowering mood than hearing good news has the effect of elevating our mood? We could potentially link this tendency to prehistoric times when paying attention to and being on the lookout for “bad things” was required to remain alive. If we were too busy paying attention to the lighter, positive things ( like how wonderfully tasty our grilled squirrel was), we might miss the predator sneaking up on us as we enjoyed our dinner.
This innate tendency toward negativity can carry with it anxiety, fear and a negative self- image. When we think negative thoughts, our brain prepares us physically to help combat the upcoming physical battle, even if there really isn’t one. Remaining under stress continuously begins to degrade the body’s systems. The immune system can weaken, leaving the body more susceptible to illness and infections. Heart disease can also be a side effect, including hardening of the arteries. Gastrointestinal disorders and type II diabetes can also oftentimes be connected to long term stress reaction
Long term stress/negativity exposure, can also lead to higher levels of cortisol in the body, which encourages production of body fat, disrupts sleep (affecting mood, behavior and cognitive function) and comes full circle back into a pattern of negative thinking.
Parasympathetic nervous system stimulation brings on a sense of well-being and relaxation. Here are some ways to help stimulate this part of the nervous system toward a more positive outlook on life:
Visualization of a place or time that you associate with happiness
Breathing in a slow, controlled manner for several minutes of practice at a time
Being in the moment, and paying close attention to sensations of the moment ( if the moment is a calm one)
Expressing affection both mentally and physically can lower stress hormones and blood pressure
Limiting time with video games, especially those that put players in stressful situations. Long term exposure to the stress of some video games, can make the body believe it is physically in a state of stress /distress, and it then responds to that.
So….tell a corny joke, reach out to family and friends, find peaceful calm in meditation. Whatever it takes to get your thoughts to a positive space, do it today, and give your nervous system a break. Life is good, and our challenges make us stronger, even if we cannot see it when we are in the middle of a stressful situation.
If you have questions please contact Body Image Physical Therapy & Fitness Center
to schedule an appointment or get more information at 720-870-8900
! We are more than happy to help you be on your way to a full recovery.