Five steps to positive thinking
Feeling anxious is something most of us deal with from time to time, whether it’s due to a looming job interview, or perhaps a worrying health concern. None of us are immune to these feelings of nervousness, dread, and worry.
Many of us also experience a general low mood (especially on gloomy days like the summer in Newcastle is panning out to be), when things just don’t seem to feel right. Maybe because we’re lacking self-esteem, or simply because nothing positive seems to be on the horizon.
These feelings are perfectly natural and are usually not indicative of anything serious, but that’s not to say we can’t do our bit to try to tackle them and keep them under control.
Positive thinking can increase our feelings of inner strength and reduce the likelihood of feeling negative, overwhelmed or demotivated. Research has shown that experiencing positive emotions broadens a person’s sense of possibility which, in turn, helps them build a greater life skillset.
However, it can be hard to know where to start – clearing the mind of worry and thinking ‘happy thoughts’ is much easier said than done, isn’t it?
Or perhaps not…By focusing the mind and practicing these 5 simple steps, you may just find it easier than you think.
1. Set achievable goals
According to the NHS, “Doing something you’re good at, such as cooking or dancing, is a good way to enjoy yourself and have a sense of achievement.”
Setting out to do things that we enjoy and know we can do is a good way of feeling positive about ourselves and our abilities. Conversely, setting unachievable goals can lead to a sense of failure, leaving us feeling disheartened and negative, such as reacting to a lack of exercise by setting the extreme goal to run every morning before work and then failing to do so.
2. See the funny side of things
The NHS also advises us to try and feel happier stating “Jokes have a way of making worries seem less important”. Making light of a situation is an age old coping mechanism because it genuinely works. By reducing a stressful situation to its comic elements, we instantly experience a wave of relief. In fact, what happens to us physically when we laugh is quite remarkable. We take in more oxygen-rich air, and our muscles and lungs are stimulated. This leads to a release of endorphins in our brain – the hormones that make us feel good.
3. Communicate your worries
‘A problem shared is a problem halved’ has to be one of the truest expressions in the English language. Vocalising a worry, however big or small, instantly relieves the sense of loneliness we get when we’re faced with coping with something alone. It’s not necessarily about gaining proactive advice; simply receiving sympathetic words or knowing that somebody else is aware of your situation can bring immense comfort.
4. Think positive thoughts
It can be all too easy to be hard on ourselves when things aren’t going to plan. A good way to tackle this is to think about ourselves as a friend. If someone you cared about was struggling and being tough on themselves, you’d encourage them with positive comments and advice. Rather than focusing on the negative things about something that didn’t go to plan, learn from these experiences. By being positive and encouraging, life’s little let downs become much more manageable and you’ll be more prepared for your next encounter.
5. Practice mindful thinking or meditation
Once thought of as a bit of a ‘hippy-fad’, meditation has now become part of the daily routines of even the most sceptical. By narrowing the focus of our minds, closing off the outside world and becoming more aware of our bodies, we experience lowered levels of stress and improvements in our mood. This can be achieved through simple meditation, where we sit silently paying attention to the sensation of our breathing and body, bringing the mind back to focus on this whenever it wanders.
Whilst leading such busy lives, many of us don’t take the time to look after ourselves properly, often shunning things in the present to deal with at a later date. So if you’re feeling stressed, down or even just a bit out of sorts, take the time to incorporate the above steps into your life and see if they make a difference.
Remember: Positive thinking allows us to escape the world around us and go to a place of happiness and wellbeing.
These five steps are my gift to you – try them. And if you want some specific advice or perhaps feel too overwhelmed, please reach out to me.