Making changes in the face of negativity
By guest writer Naila Ahmed
Modern life is making people ill, partly because we are spending too much time doing things like:
- Rushing about
- Trying to be perfect
- Focusing on the acquirement of material wealth
- Fulfilling our needs first at the detriment of others
- Being more inward thinking and outwardly critical of ourselves and others
- Spending too much time on social media which gives us a false reality
One of the common aspects of modern life is we’re spending a considerable amount of time feeling stressed and being in denial about it. This consequently leads to misinterpretation and lack of insight. When we feel stressed, adrenaline and cortisol will excite and arouse the body for flight or fight; when we feel overwhelmed, we can feel out of control and become angry. This can lead to an imbalance in our work and personal life.
The point is we can become anxious and impatient and this can lead to communication problems. Think back: when you were pre menstrual or tired or had too many things going on, who was at the receiving end of your impatience? We are all guilty of being like that from time to time.
But what can we do about it? Here are some of my tips:
According to psychological research into stress and wellbeing, we as a modern society are moving away from normal interaction. Every time we interact with our families and give them eye contact, smile or touch them we release a hormone called oxytocin. This hormone helps to connect better with other people and makes us feel relaxed.
Make an effort to smile when you greet and meet people, try to speak softly, and give eye contact; this makes others relaxed and encourages less defensive postures and aggressiveness.
According to psychological evidence spending time away from social media and engaging in activities of interest and hobbies helps us relax and gives us space to be ourselves. Many women spend their time fulfilling the needs of others as mothers, wives and carers.
In doing this, women can lose their own identity and personality. Often this is the primary reason why many visit the doctor about ailments which have no physiological cause.
Make a conscious effort to spend time doing things you enjoy doing, things that make you feel fulfilled such as meeting with friends, reading a book, spending time unwinding, going on holiday or anything else.
With excessive amounts of cortisol and adrenaline surging through our bodies and with no outlet, it may come to the surface through heated discussions or aggression. If we model this kind of behaviour in front of our children or partners we are saying that this behaviour is acceptable. One great way to tackle excessive aggressiveness is to do exercise and let off steam.
Government recommendations suggest we should be doing five sessions of cardio vascular exercise and some weight bearing activities to keep our bodies and minds in shape.
Doing exercise allows the body to effectively release stress and tension and allows people to reflect and think. Nobody is expecting you to run a marathon but find something that allows you to release any pent up emotion and tension in a positive way.
Many of us spend a great deal of time thinking outwardly about others but if we are going to have meaningful relationships we need to heal ourselves first. This means using a section of time during the morning or evening reflecting on the day that has passed. Also use this time to mentally prepare for the next day. Be prepared to fault find about your behaviour and moods - think of ways to amend this and move forward.
The best way to move forward is to be positive. If you made a mistake, don’t be shy to admit it, accept help, say you are sorry and try to remind yourself and others that they are important and are valued. Usually, when we say things in anger and vent our feelings, we feel better (at least momentarily). But what about the other person on the receiving end?
Meditation is about reflection and being open to change and thinking about role reversal. How would you feel if you were on the receiving end of someone’s bad mood?
Life is hard and will throw many challenges at you in the form of changes. It is how you embrace change which determines how you cope. The most successful people in the world are those who are adaptive, learn from the past and can use this knowledge for the future. The main focus here is: don’t sweat the small stuff. You have the means to deal with any situation as long as you tell yourself this is a challenge and not a threat.
Make use of your friendship groups, family and community when calamity strikes, take each day as it comes, don’t to think too far ahead and take small steps. Forgive yourself, accept yourself and forget about negativity in your life. People who spend too much time dwelling on past events they cannot change will become mentally and physically ill. There is always hope for positive change towards a more fulfilling life. Stay proactive and don’t give up.