By Pam Brookens, Community Education Manager at Southwest Behavioral Services
When faced with bad news and challenges, we’ve all received advice to “stay positive.” The greater the challenge, the more this glass-half-full wisdom can come across as pollyannaish and unrealistic. Sometimes it’s difficult to stay positive no matter how hard we try, yet learning to stay positive in negative situations is invaluable in leading a healthy lifestyle. Here are five ways you can achieve this:
- Have a positive support group
Having a positive support group is important in helping each other through difficult times. Notice I said a “positive” support group. Surrounding yourself with positive people will help you stay positive when in negative situations. There are plenty of negative people out there—avoid them! Their negative attitudes will only bring you down and be counterproductive to what you are trying to achieve through positive thinking.
- Keep a journal of gratitude
Years ago, I received a gratitude journal from a friend and it’s one of my favorite things to do to this day. Just take a notebook and start writing down the things you’re grateful for. Start with the obvious and work from there. Be grateful for having food, water, and a roof over your head. If you woke up at 5 AM and can’t go back to sleep, try to be grateful for getting to see the sunrise. If you’re facing a challenge, be grateful for the opportunity to learn from it. You don’t have to write every day, but make sure you open your journal at least once a week. It can be very easy to indulge in self-pity, blame, and anger. Appreciating what you have will help you stay positive.
- Retrain your mind
Are you a person who continually beats yourself up mentally? Do you constantly question your actions? Believe me, I’ve been there. Nobody needs to call me stupid, because I can do that just fine myself! Retrain your brain to stop doing that to yourself. The more you talk negatively to yourself, the more that negativity will become a part of you. Instead, practice the power of positive thinking. Any time a negative thought comes into your mind, replace it with a positive one. At some point, this will become more natural as your brain automatically turns a negative into a positive.
- Exercise your body and mind
Need an emotional lift? Or need to blow off some steam after a stressful day? A workout at the gym or a brisk 30-minute walk can help. Physical activity stimulates various chemicals in your brain that can leave you feeling happier and more relaxed. You may also feel better about your appearance and about yourself generally when you exercise regularly. And that can boost your confidence and improve your self-esteem. Exercise is an excellent way to fight the negative effects of bad situations.
- Read Positive Quotes
I like to place Post-It notes with positive quotes on my computer, fridge door, and mirror as reminders to stay positive. Let me also share with you a quote by an unknown author:
Watch your thoughts, they become words.
Watch your words, they become actions.
Watch your actions, they become habits.
Watch your habits, they become your character.
Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.
With the power of positive thinking, we can learn to put negative situations into perspective and to deal with them as they arise.
Happy positive thinking!
For additional support, contact Southwest Behavioral Services at (608) 348-3656.