Positivity can be hard to find at times. Circumstances outside of our control can have negative effects on our lives, our health, and our mental wellbeing. Thinking positively and acting positively can be a stress management tool. Not only that, but positivity can stave off the emotional and physical ailments that come from stress. While positivity might be in short supply, there are things that can be done to change that. This list from Psych2Go offers up tips for keeping a positive outlook, even when you aren’t sure you can.
Keeping a journal can be helpful in many instances. With this one, you should focus on at least one thing that you are thankful for from that day. By focusing on the good things you are taking away space for negative thoughts. This will also force you to really think about the day and see what was good about it. Writing will also help you build a skill set that will come in handy later on in life. You can also build your vocabulary with this exercise. Bonus points if you write it by hand. Writing by hand activates the Reticular Activating System of your brain. The RAS is a filter for everything that your brain needs to process. By focusing on your writing you are forcing your brain to set that at a higher priority. To that effect, you can glean even more benefits this way.
2. Have fun
This one sounds easy but that isn’t always the case. Our lives are so jam-packed with meetings and appointments that we often forget that having fun is important too. You don’t have to plan an entire day at the zoo or back to back movies at the mall to have fun. Smiling alone helps fight off stress as it releases neuropeptides into your brain. Spend time with your friends chatting over coffee. Watch a funny video on YouTube or find a good stand up comedian on Netflix and smile away. Not only are you releasing those stress fighting chemicals, you’re also taking time to relax. And let’s be honest, who couldn’t use a little more relaxation in their life?
3. Listen to music that is upbeat or cheerful
Music is a language all its own. We listen to it when we are happy, or sad. We hear it in the movies and we take note of what it might mean. Listening to music is like reading with your ears. You are filled with emotions when your favourite character is injured or the enemy prevails. So why would we expect music to act in any other way? If you want to think positive, then listen to uplifting melodies. Research suggests that listening to music can boost your creativity as well. Therefore, if you’ve been having issues with that you might just want to try some music therapy to get those thought flowing.
4. Change the perspective
Changing the way you look at things can change how you feel about them. This isn’t going to be an overnight change so don’t become defeated if you aren’t good at it just yet. You will have to take the time to examine the situation and see where you could think more positively within it. Changing the perspective in one situation will help you change it in another one. Before you know it you’ll be switching those negative thoughts off like a light switch.
For years we have heard about the benefits of meditation. You may not be comfortable or familiar with the practice but there are tutorials all over the internet that can help you. Many people use Yoga as a way to exercise, which automatically boosts feel-good hormones in your brain, and as a way to meditate. Over the years it has been learned that meditation reduces stress and concentration. Studies have found that meditation, done correctly, can improve your ability to regulate emotions in your brain, permanently. An exercise that has immediate and long-lasting positive effects on the brain? Sounds like it might be worth a try.
6. Follow your dream
We all get caught up in the daily grind of work and life expectations. Sometimes we forget the things that make us that happiest. Finding time to remember what your dream, or your passion, was can help you immensely. Perhaps you liked painting but stopped because of time constraints. Maybe you wanted to be a writer but the novel is unfinished and collecting dust because life became too hectic. Doing something that makes you happy and brings you joy releases endorphins. These chemicals are known as the feel-good hormones for a reason.
Every situation isn’t going to have the ability to have a positive spin put on it. Nor are you going to be able to pick up that paintbrush every time inspiration strikes. Making time in your day to accomplish the things that make you happy and help you think positively is key though. Taking just five minutes to close your eyes and meditate might change your entire day. Writing a quick thank you to the universe in your journal might change the way you view your next meeting. Scribble on a piece of paper to get those creative juices flowing, if only for a minute. The little things can have a big impact on your health and on your mind.
Other reading from Psych2Go:
Holmes, Lindsay. “8 Ways Meditation Can Improve Your Life.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 19 Sept. 2014, www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/19/meditation-benefits_n_5842870.html. Retrieved November 17, 2017
Olivo, Erin. “7 Tips for Staying Positive.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 29 Jan. 2015, www.psychologytoday.com/blog/wise-mind-living/201501/7-tips-staying-positive. Retrieved November 17, 2017
Riggio, Ronald E. “There’s Magic In Your Smile.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 25 June 2012, www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cutting-edge-leadership/201206/there-s-magic-in-your-smile. Retrieved November 17, 2017
The Week. “4 Benefits of Writing By Hand for National Handwriting Day.” Mental Floss, Mental Floss, 23 Jan. 2015, mentalfloss.com/article/33508/4-benefits-writing-hand. Retrieved November 17, 2017
“Healthy Mind.” Johns Hopkins Medicine, The Johns Hopkins University , www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/healthy_aging/healthy_mind/keep-your-brain-young-with-music. Retrieved November 17, 2017