It’s official! Positive thinking can improve your health and wellbeing. Research has shown that people with a positive attitude and outlook sleep better, have more resilience and are less likely to suffer from depression. In other words, our thinking not only defines us, it also shapes our lives. But how do we think positively, especially if we find ourselves stuck in a negative rut? The solution is to learn to look at things from a new angle and to take a different approach. Here are my top 8 ways to stay more positive during difficult times.
8 Ways to Stay Positive during Difficult Times
1. Keep a journal and a gratitude journal
I find keeping a journal has really helped my mental health during lockdown. A journal can really become a ‘best friend’ where you can share and offload your thoughts and feelings without fear of judgement or criticism. Writing things down not only clears my mind and helps me to identify triggers and potential problems, but it also helps me to identify goals to work towards.
A gratitude journal is also a brilliant tool for changing your mindset and setting you on a pathway to being more positive. When you start to feel gratitude for even the smallest things, your whole world starts to open. Possibilities and opportunities come from nowhere and suddenly things begin to manifest into your life. There’s nothing to stop you from feeling gratitude. Even when you feel lost and confused, there is always something to feel grateful for – a warm bed, the sun on your face, a home-cooked meal. It’s about focusing on what you have, rather than on what you don’t. Find out how a gratitude journal increases your happiness here.
2. Step away from negative social media – and be mindful of watching too much news!
It’s good to keep up with local and world events but limiting yourself to negativity is essential for your own wellbeing. I also find that social media can be very draining, especially if you want to stay positive in difficult times! Scrolling through reems of negative or argumentative comments and differing opinions can really drag you down!
I try to follow accounts and groups that fuel positivity and avoid commenting unless I am sure that my point is valid and won’t be construed as being negative. Instead, I opt for feel-good programmes, quality dramas and only turn on the TV to watch something specific, not to channel surf! I also use the same approach to browsing the internet and try to have a purpose, rather than mindlessly scrolling! You will soon see and feel the difference, I promise! Read more on Mindfulness here.
3. Surround yourself with positive people
You become who you spend time with. Think about it. How do you feel when someone offloads onto you? It doesn’t feel great, does it? There is a difference between being there for someone when they are going through a hard time and listening to them constantly ranting about the same things. People who are into personal growth go through tough journeys and decisions like everyone else, but they choose paths to create change without fearing what could happen.
Unhappy people who rant on and on about the same old things, but who stay on the same path because they’re scared to change, drain both your time and energy. Choose to surround yourself with people who inspire you, and who have your best interests at heart. People who lift your spirits, make you laugh, and have your back. That will help you stay positive even in difficult times.
4. Ignore the ‘monkey mind’
I believe your mind is like a muscle that can be trained. The more you feed it, the bigger and stronger it becomes. When we feed our minds with gossip or mindless tittle-tattle, it’s no wonder that we start to feel anxious, worried, or depressed. However, when we feed our minds with books on personal development or enlightening facts, we switch on a different point of our brain. This is the part that gives us purpose, drive, and motivation.
Everyone has the monkey mind that tells us we’re not good enough. It’s the root of imposter syndrome and all our anxieties. The only difference is that some people have the tools to drive the monkey mind out. If your monkey mind is taking over, learn to meditate, immerse yourself in something creative or give back to society in some way. These are the 3 key things that I have found have helped me get it under control. Never give in to your monkey mind! The stronger it gets, the more it takes over until you have nothing left. Get control of your mind with the Silva Method.
5. Get down to some exercise
Whenever I feel depressed or anxious, I train. Without a doubt, I always feel better afterwards. People who exercise regularly have a better understanding of their wellbeing, as well as more energy, deeper sleep, and sharper focus.
The reason? Exercise not only pumps more oxygenated blood to the brain; it triggers the release of feel-good endorphins that also improve your mental strength and agility. I also find that exercise is a positive distraction, and when I train, I listen to motivational music which helps me to break a negative thought cycle. Find my favourite workouts here.
6. Stop making things up!
Are you guilty of making up ‘negative’ stories in your head? I used to do this all the time! Something would happen and I would imagine what people were saying and how I was being perceived without really knowing the facts! Don’t spend precious time and energy making up stories about what you think has happened, then trying to justify it all in your head. Go straight to the problem, address it and then get on with your life. If you are going over and over something that a friend or colleague has said, or something you have said, go and sort it out.
If it’s a trivial thing that won’t matter or even be remembered a year from now, what is the point of stressing! When you go directly to the person, you can often sort things out very quickly, but even if you don’t, that’s okay! Not everyone is your friend, and you don’t have to be popular with everyone – no one is! Use your mind to concentrate on the important things in life and forget the trivia!
7. Get plenty of good quality sleep
Sleep plays such an important role in our mental health, yet so many of us rarely get a good night’s sleep! Hands up if you ensure that your child has a lovely bedtime routine, with a bath, some wind-down time and a story before bed, yet you give yourself nothing! So many of us end up answering emails at 10pm or rushing around trying to do a few chores before bed, then when we get into bed – bam – we are wide awake! Establishing a bedtime routine to help us wind down can really help improve the quality and quantity of sleep that we get. Ensuring that you are offline at least an hour before bed – that email will wait till the morning – will give your brain a change to switch off.
Begin winding down by giving yourself some well-deserved self-care. Having a warm bath with aromatherapy oils and listening to some relaxing music while you soak can take you from stressed out to sleep ready. To get your body in tune for sleep, keep stimulating things like TVs and laptops out of the bedroom – and avoid using your phone as an alarm! Instead of looking at a screen, read a book before bed. Most people find that within 5 minutes of starting to read, they fall asleep naturally. If you’re feeling particularly anxious, try a cup of Camomile tea or these natural sleep-boosting tablets.
8. Stay Present
Staying present and being in the moment is one of the kindest things you can do for yourself. When we are constantly in our heads, we can’t think straight as everything is muddled and going round and round like a washing machine! Try to stay present, it will help you stay positive during difficult times. Being absorbed in something creative or just being more observant can really help. When you are out walking, take in your surroundings by looking at plants and flowers, breathing in fresh air and using all your senses.
If a friend is talking to you really listen! Show them that you’re listening by tilting your head and nodding. Most of us are just waiting for a space so we can interact and talk ourselves! Practice mindfulness. It will be hard at first but remember everything takes practice. So many people give up meditation or mindfulness because they think they ‘can’t do it’, but these are lifelong practices that take commitment and that become easier over time. Find out how Forest Bathing keeps you in the present here.
Have you struggled to cope during lockdown? I hope this post has helped you learn how to stay positive during difficult times. Stay well!
|Natalie Shirlaw is a healthy living expert with 10 years of experience in the field of holistic health, wellbeing, and fitness. If you enjoyed this article be sure to pin or share it!|