Staying positive can be tough. Positivity can start to wane when you are bombarded with a succession of negativity, failures, disappointments, and heartbreaks.
Every challenge you face withdraws from your energy, resilience, and a little bit of your faith. Once your positive energy is depleted, pessimism slowly begins to creep in and take hold.
Positive thinking is a mental and emotional state of mind that focuses on the good and expects positive outcomes.
Developing and maintaining positive energy involves more than merely thinking happy thoughts. It is the anticipation of good (such as happiness, health, and success); and it is the belief that all things – situations, obstacles, and difficulties – will work out favourably in the end.
Optimism does not involve ignoring negativity. It is the acknowledgement of the negative but then choosing to focus on the positive. At its root, it is simply the belief that despite the current circumstances, things will work out favourable in the end.
A positive mind comes from a heart full of faith.
If you want to stay positive when facing challenges and negative situations, here are things you can do to help revive your positive energy:
Research shows that revelling in the great outdoors promotes positive mental health and well-being. Spending time in serene natural environments has been scientifically proven to lower stress levels, improve working memory and provide a sense of rejuvenation.
Perform random acts of kindness
Finding ways to put a smile on the face of others affects you just as much as it affects them. It takes the focus off of you and your problems, and allows you to be a positive force in the lives of others.
Doing good for others makes you feel good. It lifts your mood, improves self-esteem and self-worth. It also serves as a small distraction from your current challenges.
Develop an attitude of gratitude
Noticing and appreciating the positives in our lives is a great way to lift your spirits and provide yourself a mental boost.
Start to practice gratitude by being thankful for the simple things in life.
Take a mental break
Exhaustion is the silent killer of positivity.
Learn to take breaks when things get overwhelming. Do something that gives your mind a break from whatever challenge you are facing, and that could just mean taking a nap.
Find a way to laugh–often. Watch a comedy, spend the evening with your crazy friend who knows how to keep you in stitches. Host a game night with your friends.
Hang around with positive people
Research suggests that stress is contagious and the more you surround yourself with it, the more likely you are to let it affect your thoughts. In the same way that stress and negativity are contagious, so is happiness.
You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. The bottom line here is our behaviour and thought patterns mirror those we hang around. Choose carefully who you allow into your circle.
Look for the silver lining
Trying to force optimistic thinking amidst emotional turmoil or a bit shocked usually don’t work that well.
Training yourself to look for the lesson and find the bright spot not only eases the burden a little, it also slowly begins to transform your entire thought process.
Breathing exercises help expel toxic air from your body and refills your body and more importantly–your brain with fresh air. It clears your mind and allows you to regain mental clarity. One moment of clarity at the right time can change everything.
Remind yourself not to dwell on Negativity
Avoid dwelling on downers. Downers bring you down!
Focusing on negatives isn’t just unpleasant, it also makes you less effective in tackling other tasks you face. Negativity produces more negativity.
Bad things happen, so try not to replay them over and over and fixate on un-pleasantries. Play positive scenes in your mind instead.
Engage in positive self-talk
Talk to yourself. Tell yourself things are going to turn around and will work out in the end.
Say it out loud. Speaking what you believe out loud reinforces and strengthens the message. You say it and hear it simultaneously.
Talk it out with a friend
Find a positive friend (or small group of friends) or confidant to talk to. Talking helps you hear the problem, admit and discuss your feelings and it gives you another set of eyes and ears working on the problem.
You may find that brainstorming with another person or even a group will help you come up with new ideas to help you resolve the issue.
It also reassures you that someone has your back and that emotional support makes a difference. Think of it as a low-budget therapy.
Take a Walk
Scientists have found that one of the best ways to chase the blues away is by going for a walk. A brisk walk calms you down by sparking nerve cells in the brain that relax the senses.
Engage in rigorous exercise
Getting sweaty is not just good for your heart – it’s good for your head too.
Research reveals the psychological and physical benefits of exercise helps reduce anxiety and elevates your mood. When you engage in vigorous physical activity, the ‘feel good’ brain chemicals (neurotransmitters, endorphins and endocannabinoids) are released that ease feelings of negativity. It distracts you from your issues, and it physically relaxes you.
Proper rest is a critical part of maintaining a positive attitude. Studies have shown that even partial sleep deprivation has a significant effect on your mental state.
Researchers from University of Pennsylvania discovered that people who were limited to less than five hours of sleep a night for one week felt significantly more stressed, angry, sad, and mentally exhausted. It’s hard to maintain a positive mindset under those conditions.
Journaling is a great way to deal with overwhelming emotions. It provides a healthy outlet in which you can express yourself and manage your emotions and overall mental health.
Keeping a journal can help you identify and track the causes of negative thinking and develop a mitigation plan.
Taking the occasional break from the daily grind is fun, freeing and necessary.
Figure out what makes you feel alive and happy and do that. Whether it’s watching Netflix in your pyjamas all day or if it’s kayaking down a river. The goal is to have fun, whatever that means to you.
Rewarding yourself with ‘me time’ and celebrating who you are as a person is vital to sustaining a positive outlook.
Move through your day mindfully
Worry and dwelling on pervasively stressful thoughts are optimism assassins. Living mindfully involves consciously deciding to be fully present in each moment. When you throw all of your attention, energy and resources on the now, you don’t have the space for negative thoughts or worrying.
Trishna Patnaik is an art therapist and healer. She works with clients on a one-to-one basis in Mumbai.
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