I think it’s pretty safe to say that we all feel stressed every now and then. Some of us more often than others.
There are all sorts of things we can try to help reduce our feelings of stress, and get negative emotions under control. We can practice mindfulness, take a bit of time out to do some yoga, or try some flower remedies to see if they work for us.
But what if there was something we could do that took very little time or effort but that has been shown in studies to reduce these kinds of emotions?
Next time you’re feeling stressed out and overrun by negative emotions, try this one little trick.
Talk to yourself in the third person.
Stick with me on this, there really is some science behind it!
A study was carried out in Michigan that basically found that talking to ourselves in the third person really does help us to regulate our emotions. The researchers think it’s down to the fact that referring to ourselves in this way helps us get a bit of emotional and psychological distance from our problems.
So, if you’re stressed out about something, rather than asking yourself “why am I so stressed out by this?” you would think “why is Madeline so stressed by this?”. Or, you know, whatever your own name is.
One of the things that is particularly interesting is that the researchers noted that thinking to ourselves in the third person isn’t any more taxing than doing it in the first person.
It doesn’t take any extra effort.
So it’s potentially a really simple way to reduce our feelings of stress, instead of things like mindfulness or yoga that take a fair bit of effort and concentration.
The researchers in Michigan carried out 2 different studies to test their theory.
- In the first study the participants were asked to react to images that were either neutral or disturbing, in both the first person and the third person. They found that emotional brain activity decreased really quickly, within one second actually, when the participants used the third person.
- In the other study the participants were asked to recount painful experiences from the past, again using both the first person and the third person when referring to themselves. The researchers found that the participants had less brain activity in the region that’s used for reflecting on painful emotional situations when they used the third person.
So both of the studies showed the same thing; that using the third person can help us to experience less negative emotions.
You just have to get past the fact that it feels like a slightly weird thing to do!
What do you think? Would you give this a try next time you feel stressed out or upset? I think it has to be worth a try, and can definitely see the logic behind it helping you distance yourself from your emotions a bit.
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