By Ana Snyder, M.S., Exercise Physiology; CPT, FNS
How would you describe your general outlook on life? Are you usually an optimist, or do you often find it difficult to see the cup half full? Your attitude matters, as it can affect your job performance, your social life, and even your physical health and wellness. If you’ve been feeling glum, it’s time to give yourself the gift of a positive mindset. If you’ve been down in the dumps, check out these easy ways to achieve a sunnier outlook.
Having a positive attitude is part of living a healthy and happy life. Positive thinking can lead to reduced stress, depression, and anxiety, as well as improved cardiovascular health. It may even make you less susceptible to common colds and help increase your lifespan. If you don’t consider yourself a naturally positive person, adding some simple self-care practices to your day can change that. You can begin to enjoy the benefits of a more optimistic outlook as soon as you commit to these good habits.
Nothing beats getting together with your favorite people. Spending time with a group of good friends can help you to appreciate how great life is. And having regular dates for brunch, happy hour, or dinner will give you something to look forward to when your day feels like a drag. That’s important, because anticipating a pleasurable experience can help you to be happier and cultivate a positive mindset.
If you’re looking to add more positive people to your circle, here’s how to choose the right friends. Surround yourself with people who will bring energy, inspiration, and joy. With your improved attitude, you’ll do the same for them!
It’s no secret that listening to music you love can profoundly affect your mood, as can singing or playing an instrument. Find ways to make music part of your daily life.
When you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed, there’s no better place to be than outside. Spending time in the woods, on the beach, or on your own front lawn can help you to cope with anxiety and depression and flip your mindset to be more positive. To fully enjoy the mental health benefits of nature, make it a point to get some fresh air as often as you can. Even a quick jog on your street or breakfast on your back deck can be quality nature time. Soak in the sunshine, listen to the sounds of the birds, crickets, and other critters, and take in the beauty of the Earth.
One of the most important changes you can make right now is to your self-talk, also known as your internal monologue. Spend some time monitoring the way you “talk” to yourself in your thoughts. Are you caring, gentle, and forgiving of yourself? Or are you critical and belittling? If you spoke to a friend or coworker the way you “speak” to yourself, would that person continue to spend time with you?
If you find that you’re overly hard on yourself, it’s time to change your self-talk. What happens when you approach yourself the way you would a good friend? You owe it to yourself to be as kind to you as you are to the people you love and respect.
It’s not always easy to quiet a negative inner monologue. Here’s more on how to break bad habits like self-flagellation.
Here is a powerful tool for reducing negative self-talk, anxiety, and stressful or intrusive thoughts: daily meditation. Devoting just ten to fifteen minutes a day to achieving a positive mindset and a quieter, calmer mind and body can make an enormous difference in your life. You’ll gain an increased awareness of your own thoughts, as well as the realization that you are bigger than those thoughts. Knowledge is power: When you understand that you are more than your inner monologue, you can shut it down when it isn’t serving you.
If you’ve never meditated before, it’s helpful to have someone more experienced guide you as you begin. Consider using a mindfulness app like Calm, which features a variety of meditation exercises led by experts. Relax, and remember that this isn’t a task or a contest. If you’re not able to perfectly focus your attention, you haven’t failed. Whatever you’re able to achieve during each meditation session is enough.
Taking a moment to appreciate everything you have is possibly the single most important thing you can do to improve your worldview. Research shows that people who regularly practice gratitude are happier and more optimistic and enjoy better relationships with others. How can you give thanks for all the good things in your life?
If you’ve been feeling stressed, gloomy, and pessimistic for awhile, you won’t give yourself a full attitude adjustment in a day. And that’s okay, because keeping a positive mindset is a journey rather than a destination. Enjoy the progress you make as you participate in the self-care activities that make you feel happier and more relaxed and optimistic. You’ll find that your happiness and positivity build on themselves and radiate toward everyone you encounter. Take care, and don’t forget to smile!