When you're having a stressful day, it can be tough to step back from the situation to find a way to calm down and hone your focus. While we know that mindfulness techniques like taking deep, intentional breaths are effective in slowing down your heart rate, research suggests there's an easier way to dissipate stress—instantly.
According to a study published in Scientific Reports, talking about yourself in the third person when you feel rushed and overwhelmed might be the solution. We know it sounds bizarre, but Jason Moser, PhD, associate professor of psychology at Michigan State University, explains that it has serious credibility. "Essentially, we think referring to yourself in the third person leads people to think about themselves similarly to how they think about others, and you can see evidence for this in the brain," he told MyBody+Soul. "[It] helps people gain a tiny bit of psychological distance from their experiences, which can often be useful for regulating emotions."
Psychologist Marny Lishman explains that this simple hack works because it helps overcome our body's natural response to entering "fight or flight" mode. "Thinking about yourself in the third person is actually consciously overriding this automatic response and taking back control of your thoughts," she says.
So what does it involve in real-world situations? Next time you're stressed about a looming deadline, challenge your self-talk. Instead of saying "I feel so stressed," try "Kate feels so stressed." It might just be the trick to distancing yourself from the moment and gaining much-needed perspective to find a productive path forward.
Have you tried this stress hack? Tell us if it works for you.