Our thoughts have a profound impact on our brain chemistry and basic physiology. Our bodies are programmed to respond in certain ways to different situations. Based on your appraisal of, or thought about, a given situation, your brain will have a specific chemical reaction which communicates to your body how to respond. For example, when you are faced with danger, your thought process might be “there is danger and now I need to run,” but more likely than not, the process happens more instantaneously because you have a thought about danger and your brain then takes over. Here are some specific ways that negativity can affect your brain and body:
It is important to know that "thought suppression" or trying to push away a thought is not helpful. It actually can intensify the thoughts. It is important to foster a better, more accepting way to relate to your thoughts. Practice acknowledging your thoughts ("there's that thought again"), simply labeling them ("I am having the thought that...", choosing not to engage with them ("this is not helpful for me to think about right now"), challenge them ("what is the evidence for and against this?") and explore mindfulness techniques. In contrast to negativity, which more often than not, prompts a physical stress/danger response, meditation and mindfulness which teach your mind and body to quiet themselves are associated with a slew of positive health benefits. Certain newer types of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) like Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) can offer more on this style of learning to relate to your thoughts differently. CBT will help you learn how to challenge your thoughts and come up with more effective ways of thinking. The therapists at PVD Psych have training in all of these types of therapy and can help you figure out what might work best for you.