Reduce Stress by Surrounding Yourself with Positive Energy

Positive Energy Can Be Yours!

Two Girl Friends Reading In Bed And Laughing
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Negative self-talk--the tendency to interpret things in the world in a pessimistic way and have a self-limiting inner voice--can create significant stress in your life, and exacerbate the stressful situations you already face. Negative self-talk and negative energy can affect you in many ways that may not be obvious, and even extend to those you come in contact with if you're in a bad mood. Here are some of the more insidious effects of negative self-talk:

Increased Perception of Stress: When your inner dialogue is more negative, it can actually exacerbate your perception of what you face, making something that may merely be annoying feel "unmanageable," or something that's semi-stressful feel like "a nightmare." When the language in your inner dialogue is more strongly negative, your experience becomes more intensely negative.

Pessimistic Thinking: When your inner voice is more negative, your whole thought process can be more negative as well. This becomes a habitual thought pattern and eventually colors the whole way you see the world and your place in it.

Self-Limitation: When you see things in a more negative way, you're less likely to seek out, or even recognize, opportunities that come across your path. This is common in those who are more pessimistic, and it can lead to less success in a variety of situations.

Because of this, developing more positive self-talk is an important way to reduce stress in your life. You can help yourself maintain a positive frame of mind—which will help with positive self-talk—by surrounding yourself with positive energy in your life. You can get that by adding the following elements to your life:

Uplifting Music

Listening to music that not only has a soothing melody but an uplifting message, can be great for developing positive self-talk. Have you ever had a song ‘stuck in your head’ for a few hours or days, the lyrics repeating themselves in your mind? If those lyrics were positive and inspirational, that would be a good thing. It’s a much better mental soundtrack to have than a running stream of complaints, criticisms or self-limiting thoughts, or even songs that had more depressing or sad lyrics. (When times get tough, I often think of Wilson Phillips’ classic, “Hold On”, but there are dozens of good ones out there.) There are other benefits to music for stress relief, so this is a great strategy to keep in mind.

Inspirational Books

Books on strength, personal power, enlightenment, or self-help can be good resources to help you change your outlook and the things you say to yourself. Rather than triggering habitual self-defeating thoughts, you can find yourself thinking of new can-do concepts when times get tough. (For shifting your paradigm, I love Gary Zukav’s “The Heart of the Soul”, or Sarah Ban Breathnach’s classic “Simple Abundance”.) You can also read books on general or specific aspects of stress management to change your whole relationship with stress. Here are some of my favorite books on stress management, including my own.

Positive People

One of the most important ways you can get (and keep) positive energy in your life is with the company you keep. Do your friends uplift you, or bring you down? Are they critical, or complementary? Ideal friendships provide support when you’re down, fun when you’re up, wisdom when you’re lost, and positive regard. Good friends can inspire you to reach greater heights, and see your strengths even when you don’t always. Pay attention to how your friends make you feel, and if they’re less than supportive, start putting your energy and time toward people who are better suited to be your friend. (Read more on social support and friendships of this site.)

Practice Affirmations

Positive affirmations can subtly but pervasively change your self-talk from negative to positive. This can create a significant difference in your life in many ways. If you see things more in terms of possibilities rather than limitations--as what can be done rather than as what can't, and begin to focus more on solutions than on problems, and this can lower your stress levels by helping you feel more in-control. See this article for some creative ways to begin working positive affirmations into your life.

Practice the Loving-Kindness Meditation

This type of meditation is not only simple to practice, but can increase your feelings of compassion, your capacity for forgiveness, and your sense of connection with others. It also can increase your self-acceptance, which can relieve stress in itself. This activity also brings general benefits of meditation, so it's definitely worth doing. It involves focusing positive feelings first toward yourself, then expanding them to those you care about the most, then friends and acquaintances, then those in your community, your country, and around the world to an ever-expanding circle of people. 

Take Charge of Your Idle Thoughts

If you spend time thinking about proactive things you can do to solve problems, you'll feel less stressed than if you spend time in rumination, focusing on the negative feelings you've had in past experiences. If you find yourself focusing mostly on the negative, gently bring your mind to what's good in your life, or at least on what can be done to move past these stressful situations once you've processed your feelings. Focusing on creating a more positive inner life can help you to feel more positive energy all around you. Maintaining a gratitude journal is another effective strategy for this--you bring positive energy to yourself by reflecting on everything that's great in your life each day, and you then have a nice record to read over later when you need an emotional pick-me-up. (Read more about why positive emotions help with stress.)

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