Waiting Your Turn – Positivity (Part 3)
Throughout the first two parts of my blog post series “Waiting Your Turn – Positivity”, I have constantly emphasized the importance of a positive mindset. However, like many things, it is easier said than done. Often, when you are frustrated or upset, your mind heads straight to pessimism and you are likely stuck in a cranky mood for the rest of your day. But how exactly can you improve this attitude?
Ways To Keep A Positive Attitude
- 3 Good Things
3 Good Things is a common exercise by people to help stay hopeful and manage stress. According to SIU School of Medicine, it “is an exercise that has been associated with increased levels of happiness and well-being.” The directions are simple: every night before you go to sleep, write down three good things that happened in your day in a journal. This exercise allows you to self-reflect and look for positives in things that may have originally seemed menial. Three Good Things is even “a stress management technique promoted among employees throughout MidMichicagn Health.”
- Surroundings and Environment
We all have probably been told at one point in our life to be careful who we make friends with. To this day, this concept still sticks with us. Putting ourselves in a negative environment will have a bigger influence on our mindset than we realize. A toxic work environment can heavily drag down a person’s level of happiness and productivity. Toxic friendships can have the same impact, so avoid people who put you down or people who you find are constantly complaining.
Mindfulness, commonly known as meditation, is an important practice for stress relief. Even if you don’t have an hour of free time everyday, putting aside just 5 minutes each day can be very impactful. According to Shawn Achor, “in just a two-minute span of time done for 21 days in a row, we can actually rewire your brain, allowing your brain to actually work more optimistically and more successfully.” The length is not as significant compared to the consistency; you should include mindfulness in your daily routine.
Everyone knows that when you laugh, you are happy. But, did you know that the physical action of laughing can actually increase your happiness levels? When you laugh, you are activating various parts of your brain — the motor cortex, the frontal lobe, and the limbic system — which can “strengthen neural connections and help a healthy brain coordinate its activity.” Laughing at a situation also takes away from the intensity and seriousness of the situation which can relieve stress. According to The Wire, “researchers find that these positive emotions experienced with humour and laughter correlate with appreciating the meaning of life and help older adults hold a benign view of difficulties they’ve faced over a lifetime.”
- Confront the Negative
Ignorance is bliss. Is that necessarily true, though? Living in your own personal bubble and ignoring the bad parts of reality can be extremely harmful to your mindset. If you believe that willful ignorance can help you keep a positive mindset, you are mistaken. We must face the negative aspects of our life and deal with each circumstance appropriately. If we choose to not confront the negative, we will have a false positive mindset which can lead to misperceptions about reality.
When it comes to keeping a positive mindset, I can not stress the importance of self-care enough. Doing one thing you love, no matter how small or big, is the best way to bring you happiness. Even when you are stressed, make sure to put time away for focusing on yourself. The University of Zurich conducted a study and determined that: “real satisfaction came from enjoying little moments.” When you begin to prioritize other things over your own health, you begin to lose sight of yourself. Get enough sleep and maintain a healthy lifestyle!
- Take Breaks
When people feel overwhelmed, they tend to get lost in their tasks and forget about where they are. Make sure that you are taking proper breaks to give your brain time to rest and reset! Take short, periodic breaks and after a few hours, allow yourself a longer break. According to psychologists, “powering through without a pause can do more harm than good.” Breaks can act as an intervention and remind you to breathe and relax. Time your breaks according to your preferences! The Pomodoro Technique is a timing method that breaks work into 25 minutes and then allows you to take a 5 minute break. After you repeat this 4 times, take a longer 15-30 minute break!
Exercise has been proven to increase happiness and reduce stress and anxiety. There are many different types of exercise available, so there is something that appeals to every individual. You could try out cardio in the form of walking, biking, swimming, or running. Or, you could also go to the gym and lift weights. If this does not interest you, you can also play recreational sports. Michael Otto, PhD, a professor of psychology at Boston University says: “”Usually within five minutes after moderate exercise you get a mood-enhancement effect.” Getting outside and allowing yourself to breathe fresh air is essential for your mental health!
- Acknowledge Your Emotions
I have discussed the dangers of toxic positivity—you do not have to be positive all the time! Know that it is okay to feel sad, frustrated, or angry. After all, you are only human. By acknowledging your emotions, you are practicing self-awareness, a key part to your mindset!
Positivity is important both inside and outside the workplace. When you begin to view circumstances more optimistically, you will find that you become happier with your own life. Having a positive outlook reduces negative thinking and improves your attitude. Furthermore, it can help you build and grow relationships, because people want to be around positive influences. Others will look up to your attitude, you will become more resilient, and you will adapt better in times of adversity and bounce back from difficult moments. By remaining mentally strong, you will not only set an example for others around you, but you will also find more happiness in the little things in your life!