One of the best ways we can overcome the power of unhelpful thoughts on the body is to “think in ink”. Basically, this means putting your thoughts to paper.
What we think can strongly impact the way we feel. Different pathways in the body moderate these responses. For example, if we think anxious or fearful thoughts, our bodies respond by stimulating the sympathetic pathway– what is known as the ‘fight or flight’ response. This then produces symptoms ranging from sweaty palms, a dry mouth and a racing heart to loose stools:
Thoughts –> feelings/emotions –> body responses
Sometimes this can also make us change our behaviours, and then these three things can all fuel each other:
Thoughts – Feelings – Behaviours
- Having a crap time?
- Write down whatever it is you’re thinking (sometimes it just seems to flow from the pen)
- Either: go and do something else; or: write a corresponding list by its side, countering whatever it is you’re worried/anxious/angry/stressed/sad about with either a positive comment or action plan
- I’m worried about that big meeting tomorrow
- I’m anxious about needing to go the loo when I’m out and about tomorrow, because my tummy is really bad at the moment
- I feel really low
- I don’t need to be worried because (I’ve prepared well/everybody there wants me to do well) or: I’m worried because (I’ve not prepared well) so I’m going to (write three cue cards now)
- I don’t need to feel anxious about that, because it’s never happened to me before so it’s unlikely to happen now, or: I am worried about that so I am going to (make sure I know where all the nearest toilets are/only eat foods tonight and tomorrow morning that I know don’t upset me)
- It’s okay and it’s normal to feel low sometimes, so I don’t need to worry about feeling low. I have things I can be grateful and happy about, like (my family/my friends/my lovely cat/I’m good at sport/music/my job/being a good friend)