Disrupting negative thinking to reduce stress

Negative thinking is one of the most common sources of stress. Negative thinking leads to more negative thinking and soon our thought processes spiral out of control to the point where we feel down and anxious. Therefore, it is important to disrupt the negative thinking at the earliest opportunity, before it snowballs.

I previously lived in Edinburgh. When I first moved to Edinburgh, I stayed at a hostel which meant that I had to share a dorm with several others. I had done this before in several countries and so I was well prepared for it. One of the problems that goes with sharing a dorm occurs when one of the other occupants snores. Normal snoring is tolerable but during my stay, one of the occupants of the dorm was a man in his 50’s who was visiting the city for a few days. The poor man must have had serious health issues, as he was spending 12 hours in bed and snored incredibly loudly for much of the 12 hours. I can only compare the noise to being trapped in a room with an angry bear.

One night everybody in the dorm, apart from this man, was awake. I struggled to stay relaxed as most of my room-mates were getting angry. Fatigue was leading to negative thinking which created a tension that could be cut with a knife. We realised that there was little point in waking him up as he would soon fall back to sleep and pick up where he had left off. We all seemed to be focused on the noise and there seemed to be no way to disrupt the negative thinking. Then all of a sudden one man rang his friend and said the following:

Do you hear that noise? That’s a f*****g human being!

The entire room began to laugh and a few smart comments began to fly. The atmosphere changed to a light-hearted one and soon we all drifted off to sleep. One man’s phone call had served to disrupt the negative thinking; and by doing so, it allowed us to relax and drift off into a peaceful sleep.

I learned a valuable lesson from this experience. When you are stuck in a rut and feel like you are not getting anywhere with a task, take a break. Do something different, something far removed from the task; whatever it takes to disrupt the negative thinking. It can be something ridiculous; it might be that you go for a walk or, it might be something as simple as performing a different task. This will give your brain a break and allow you to return to the task with a fresh attitude and a fresh set of eyes. And where tension is involved, it can help you to avoid an argument – always a good thing. You can learn more great productivity tips with Quick Fixes for Your Productivity.