Is negativity ruining your well-being?

Do you complain about the weather? Or maybe demands at work? Traffic?

Blowing off some steam to colleagues or your friends and family may seem like an easy way to vent some frustration and sometimes yes we do need to talk about issues and ask for help...however, if you are getting into a repetitive cycle of just focusing on the negative, it is not only unhealthy for you but you affect others. Negativity from yourself or from the environment can actually have pretty damaging consequences on your well-being, both mentally and physically. 

Researcher and Bioneurologist Professor Robert Sapolsky from Stanford University has shown that negative energy and stress can damage the hippocampus, (the part of the brain that's involved in forming memories and linking them to emotions).Sapolsky found that consistent exposure to any type of negative stress such as complaining or listening to someone complain—can eventually cause the hippocampus to shrink, thus impairing the brain's cognitive ability (i.e and you can feel more fatigued and think you are losing your memory!). The effects are seen not only in the griper, but also the listener.

''Every time we give voice to a negative thought, or listen to someone else complain, a synapse in the brain fires across to another synapse, carrying that little package of pessimism along with it. Over time, consistent complaints can ultimately rewire the brain, making it easier for negativity to get passed around. In a nutshell, one complaint leads to another—then another and another." Says Sapolsky.

Interesting isn't it? With depression and mood disorders rising, especially in workplaces, think about how and your words and behaviours affect others. This is one reason creating a positive environment at work and at home (and with friends! - I'm sure we all have mates like this that just tend to complain about everything!) is really important. The key here is not to dwell on the negative but FOCUS ON SOLUTIONS. I like to call it 'Hunt the Good Stuff'. 

So not only does negativity rewire your brain and cause it to shrink (no wonder stress levels go up even more after that!) which affects us mentally but also can affect our waistline. Ever had a bad day at work which creates a need for chocolate or wine? Or come home unhappy or tired from a long commute in traffic and subconsciously 'wanting something' and end up scavenging the pantry or fridge not even necessarily being hungry? Or perhaps feeling lethargic & convinced yourself there is not enough time to exercise or cook dinner or make your lunch the next day because life is just too busy at the moment? 

We know that food is a quick fix to help us feel better and especially carbohydrate based foods e.g. sugar but not always, sometimes just eating something that you like e.g. chips or pizza could be your 'stress fix'. However most of these 'quick fix foods are inflammatory foods which can cause more atigue and mood changes plus gut upsets which then gives you something more to complain about! Arrg what a cycle! 

The thing to remember is that you will always have stresses, but you need some recovery time to help with resilience. Stress plus RECOVERY = Resilience. This recovery time can be as small as concentrating on your deep breathing while sitting on the loo at a traffic light or playing your favourite tunes while stuck in traffic. Or sitting and eating your lunch outside in a park, even if its in over-cast. 

Here are some more top tips for Knocking out the Negative:

1) Do some 'recovery time' during the day. Even if its watching a cat video

2) Pay someone a compliment or volunteer your time with something- giving is great way to make you feel good and to help others

3) Focus on solutions rather than what has gone wrong.

4) Be firm- you don't have to listen to people complaining- be the one to change the focus. 

5) Aim to say or think something you are grateful for during the day. There are many people who have been hurt or diagnosed with a terminal disease, be grateful that you do get to go to work each day or have the opportunity to see your friends/ family. 

6) Don't come home in a bad mood, no one wants the bad energy. If you have a problem, ask someone nicely to help you with it, rather than complain about it. 

7) Don't complain about not having time to exercise- find a solution. Run around the house for 10 minutes or up and down the drive way or buy a skipping rope. If you have time to watch tv, you have time for exercise. 

8) Don't complain about being tired over overweight, write some SMART goals and go for it! OR ask for help, there could be a number of reasons why your health isn't where you want it to be but it good thing doesn't have to stay that way- find solutions :) 'There are always solutions.
9) Avoid having junk food in the house, if it's there you will probably want to eat it. 
10) Be prepared, nothing wrong coming home and snacking on vegetables and hummus or piece of fruit. In fact this will make you feel better. 

11) BREATHE, calm the body down

12) Leave your EFTPOS and cash at home so you can't buy anything during the day or on the way home if thats where the cravings kick in.

13) Positive Affirmations. Don't forget to pat yourself on the back each day. Remember every day we do achieve, be aware of your achievements. Even if its as small as letting someone in to the traffic. 

So remember- focusing on the positive or solutions can not only help your brain but also emotions and rational thinking as lets face it, most of us overeat (or under-eat) because of emotions. 

Nothing wrong with a bit of stress- but you need the RECOVERY to help with RESILIENCE! 

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