For many of us, stress is something we experience every day. But according to Dr. Mike Dow, author of the new book, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Think, Act & Be Happy, HOW you think could actually be a bigger factor in why you're feeling stressed than WHAT you think.
"Thought types are these ways of thinking that can set us up for more stress, for more anxiety," Dr. Mike says. "If you know what your thought type is, you can use these ways, these practical tips from [my] book to manage them, so that you can actually train your brain to be happier."
There are seven thought types in his book, but the doc covered three of the major ones on our show — and provided a concrete way to challenge those specific kinds of thoughts to help relieve some of your stress.
THOUGHT TYPE #1: PESSIMISM
WHAT IT MEANS: "This is a really common thought pattern for moms. You're always thinking of the catastrophic, worst case scenario, what could go wrong," Dr. Mike says.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: He provides a helpful strategy for pessimistic thinkers. For one month, write down all of your worries on pieces of paper. Put them all in a "worry jar," and at the end of the month, read them over.
You'll likely realize that most of your worries didn't come true, they weren't as bad as you thought or they resolved themselves on their own.
THOUGHT TYPE #2: POLARIZATION
WHAT IT MEANS: "These are my perfectionists. These are my people who, it's all or nothing — if I don't do something perfectly, I'm not going to do it all," Dr. Mike says.
"When you're multitasking, you're not actually multitasking," according to Dr. Mike. "You are rapidly single-tasking, and your brain is going back and forth really quickly. You lose time, productivity and brain power by overwhelming yourself."
WHAT YOU CAN DO: His number one tip for polarized thinkers is to work mindfully. How? Start by making a to-do list.
Write down 10 things you need to do that day, in order of importance. Give all your attention to the first task. Try not to think about any of the other points on the list until you're totally finished with number one. Then, cross it off and move to number two — and only number two — and so on.
THOUGHT TYPE #3: PERMANENCE
WHAT IT MEANS: "You get stuck, and it feels like what you're in right now — that bad mood, that stress that you're feeling right now — that it's never going to get better," Dr. Mike says.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: The doc's strategy for these types of thinkers is to open up a scrapbook, a photo album or even just the pictures on your phone.
Remind yourself of a time in your past where something felt like it was never going to pass, but did.
"You have this concrete evidence from your own life that is telling you ... this too shall pass," he says.