Persistent challenges and frequent feelings of being overwhelmed easily spiral into repetitive negative thinking. Now more than ever, we need to break the cycle of stress and reinforce a healthy mindset and lifestyle. Easier said than done, I agree. Here are practical and productive ways to help you shift into more positive thinking patterns.
1. Take Good Care of Yourself
It is so much, MUCH easier to be positive when you are eating well, exercising, and getting enough rest. Dismiss the myriad of excuses, and simply treat yourself with respect and kindness.
2. Remind Yourself of the Things You are Grateful For
Stresses and challenges don’t seem quite as bad when you are constantly reminding yourself of the things that are right in life. Taking just 60 seconds a day to stop and appreciate the good things will make a huge difference.
3. Look for the Proof Instead of Making Assumptions
A fear of not being liked or accepted sometimes leads us to assume that we know what others are thinking, but our fears are usually not reality. If you have a fear that a friend or family member’s bad mood is due to something you did, or that your co-workers are secretly gossiping about you, speak up and ask them. Don’t waste time worrying that you did something wrong unless you have proof that there is something to worry about. Otherwise don’t spend time worrying that you did something wrong. Focus on your accomplishments and how your experience is making life better and brighter
4. Refrain from Using Absolutes
Have you ever told a partner “You’re ALWAYS late!” or complained to a friend “You NEVER call me!” Thinking and speaking in absolutes like ‘always’ and ‘never’ makes the situation seem worse than it is, and programs your brain into believing that certain people are incapable of delivering. Instead, reinforce positive actions and efforts, and try saying “I look forward to spending time with you, please let me know if you are running late” and “I am so happy you called!”
5. Detach from Negative Thoughts
Your thoughts can’t hold any power over you if you don’t judge them. If you notice yourself having a negative thought, detach from it, witness it, and don’t follow it. Instead, form attachments to the positive parts, no matter how small.
6. Squash the “ANTs”
In his book “Change Your Brain, Change Your Life,” Dr. Daniel Amen talks about “ANTs” – Automatic Negative Thoughts. These are the bad thoughts that are usually reactionary, like “Those people are laughing, they must be talking about me,” or “The boss wants to see me? It must be bad!” When you notice these thoughts, realize that they are nothing more than ANTs and squash them!
7. Remember Your Daily Dose of Hugs at Home
You don’t have to be an expert to know the benefits of a good hug. Positive physical contact with loved ones and even pets is an instant pick me-up. Yes, this is a time of maintaining social distance; however, for those who are freely sharing air-space, hold your hugs just a little bit longer and squeeze just a little bit tighter. Everyday.
8. Increase Your Social Activity (Phone Calls Make a World of Difference!)
By increasing social activity, you decrease loneliness. Surround yourself with healthy, happy people, and their positive energy will affect you in a positive way! Actually hit dial for a quick “Hello, I just wanted to hear your voice” on that mobile phone you carry all the time. Also, today’s social circles are found online, so make sure the posts you read and the pictures you see promote your well-being. This means “hiding” and even “deleting” posts and people that increase rather than decrease your stress levels.
9. Volunteer for an Organization, or Help another Person
Everyone feels good after helping. You can volunteer your time, your money, or your resources. The more positive energy you put out into the world, the more you will receive in return.
10. Use Pattern Interrupts to Combat Rumination
If you find yourself ruminating, a great way to stop it is to interrupt the pattern and force yourself to do something completely different. Rumination is like hyper-focus on something negative. It is never productive, because it’s not rational or solution-oriented, it’s just excessive worry and stress. Try changing your physical environment – go for a walk or sit outside. You could also call a friend, pick up a book, or turn on some music.
Notice these tips are constant actions to immediately halt negatives and jump to the positive or even distract with a neutral? It’s important to understand the signs of stress and react with a positive way of handling it. The key to busting stress is making sure that you look after YOU. As your happiness levels increase, your stress levels decrease. Have a look at your work life, your personal life and social life to see if there are any areas you can create more happiness. You might be surprised on what you find.
Thinking of you,