Stress, whether it’s caused by work, relationships, finances or any other factor, creates what’s called a scarcity mindset. This is when you worry that you don’t have enough love, food, money or time, and that you never will – and it can seriously affect your motivation and happiness. In her new book The Stress-Proof Brain, psychologist Dr Melanie Greenberg outlines the positive-thinking techniques you can use to overcome this mindset and banish anxiety for good.
Focus on assets
Think about all the good things that you already have in your life: love, achievement, family and so on. Make a list if you find it useful. This will help remind you that the stressor is just a small piece of your life.
Fight your impulses
This skill involves deliberately not doing what your brain’s “fight, flight or freeze” response tells you to do. If your brain is telling you to constantly monitor your girlfriend’s Facebook page, write down your worries instead. If you’re tempted to send an angry email, moan to a sympathetic friend. Resisting the urge to act destructively will protect your health and your relationships.
Instead of obsessing over what’s stressing you out, find something else to focus on: anything from doing a crossword or reading a book to watching sports or going to the gym – organise your sock drawer, if that works for you. This allows your brain to rest and lessens the damaging impact of stress.
What’s most important to you? Is it family, security, time freedom, meaningful work, a sense of community or living a balanced life? It’s easier to make good decisions under stress when you’re clear about what’s most important to you. You’ll be able to decide how you spend your time and energy, and say no to the less essential things.
Prepare a strategy
Stress can compel us to make impulsive decisions. Make a list when you go to the supermarket and put appointment reminders in your phone. Don’t take your credit card shopping – get cash out first and limit yourself, or take a frugal friend. And erase the phone numbers of unavailable love interests (such as married exes) so that you won’t call them when you feel weakened by stress.
The Stress-Proof Brain by Melanie Greenberg is out now, RRP £12.99 (New Harbinger), buy on amazon.co.uk