There is no denying that just about everyone is feeling stressed and anxious. Bills are piling up, the cost of feeding your family has skyrocketed, and the list goes on. When bombarded with the stressors in your life, it is often hard to stay positive and optimistic!
You may not be able to control what is happening around you, but one thing you can control is how you respond to the situation, problem or circumstance. We are not suggesting that you look at life through rose-colour glasses but to try to find at least one thing good in the problem and to try to monitor and adjust your response to each situation for what it is. Controlling how you respond to a situation or circumstance may also require you to admit that there really is no “silver lining” or positive “takeaway,” and the best way through the other side of the situation is to allow yourself to feel whatever it is you are feeling (anger, sadness, hurt, etc.) Use these tips to help you recognize your reaction to the circumstance.
When faced with a negative situation, one of the first things to check is your breathing. You may notice that you are holding your breath, or breathing becomes more rapid as you get ready to respond to the problem. It takes practice, but try to stop yourself from the quick reaction and instead inhale for a count of 4 and exhale for a count of 4. Repeat this for a few minutes before you consider how you are going to respond.
Try not to jump to conclusions. Instead, gather all the facts and give your brain some time to process the information. If you take the time to read between the lines, you may find that the problem was not as big as you first thought it was.
Practice gratitude to help you find better moments to hold on to. The problem in front of you is a moment in time, but so much good has happened before the problem came about. Tap into people or things that bring you some kind of comfort or happiness and express that gratitude by writing yourself a reminder note(s) that you can read when you find negatively creeping back in. Openly express your gratitude at least once a day. It can be thanking a co-worker for helping with a project, or a loved one for helping with chores.
Be willing to find humour and give your permission to laugh. Laughter not only lightens the mood but also makes situations feel less difficult. Even if you are not feeling too funny, force yourself to laugh at the situation; it can quickly improve your mood and lower stress.
Spend time with positive people. Negatively does breed negativity, but equally, positivity does the same. It is hard to be negative if the people you surround yourself are not feeling the same way.
Practice Positive self-talk and give yourself a break. We tend to be the hardest on ourselves, which over time, can cause you to form a negative opinion of yourself. Be mindful of the voice in your head and respond with positive affirmations to counteract any negative self-talk.
Don’t look to assign blame to yourself or others when bad things happen. Sometimes, stuff just happens, and it has nothing to do with what you did or did not do.
Each day, you make the decision on the kind of day you are going to have! Start by telling yourself it is going to be a positive day and look for signs of positive things happening rather than signs that the rest of your day is going to go horribly wrong because the drive-through got your order wrong.
Researchers continue to explore the effects of positive thinking and optimism on health. Health benefits that positive thinking may provide include:
- Increased life span
- Lower rates of depression
- Lower levels of distress and pain
- Greater resistance to illnesses
- Better psychological and physical well-being
- Better cardiovascular health and reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease and stroke
- Reduced risk of death from cancer
- Reduced risk of death from respiratory conditions
- Reduced risk of death from infections
- Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress