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Manage Your Thoughts to Manage Your Stress

Posted Nov 23 2010 1:52pm

Do you know how many thoughts you have in a day?  I tried to find a statistic and came across everything from 2500 a day up to 75,000 per day.  Any way you slice it that’s a lot of thinking.  Now consider how much time you spend worrying about the future or feeling guilty about the past versus how often you are in the present moment.

Modern day stress is often a matter of spending too much time thinking and not enough time doing.

Your mind is powerful, no doubt about it.  Your body is strong, too.  And yet we are often quick to give up on our body, allowing our thoughts to take over. (Have you ever skipped a workout because you’re too stressed?).

Consider this:  When I teach yoga I often ask students, “Is your body really tired in that pose or is it your mind telling you your tired?”  An important distinction and an important lesson in self-awareness.

Then I advise students to bring their attention to their breathing. Breathing is present moment.  Breathing lets you disconnect from the stories your thoughts tell about how you feel physically, and instead check in truthfully with how you feel physically.  Your body may feel new sensations and still have more to give.  The sensations equal growth. If you’re quick to give up how can you expect to grow?

Your thoughts are quick to judge. Quick to suggest “you can’t”.  Quick to tell you “it hurts”. Quick to overwhelm you.

Want to feel more confident, present, purposeful and get more done?  Stop letting your thoughts take over.  If you want to feel less stressed and overwhelmed, even less irritated, frustrated and worried, learn how to manage your thoughts rather than letting them manage you.  Use your body more.  Take some action. Activities like yoga, meditation and other activities that require deep concentration are perfect practices to help you do just that.

Doing this requires confidence, patience and a commitment to practice.  And with the holidays upon us, learning to manage your thoughts will help you get through the season with your sanity in tact. The bottom line is you can learn to more effectively manage your thoughts instead of letting your thoughts manage you.  And that is something you can feel good about.

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