We’re all guilty of “catastrophising” from time to time – especially now that the media is only fanning the flames of our anxiety. But have you noticed that most of the things we worry about don’t even happen?
Admittedly, we’re all going through a bit of a strange patch right now. However, as with any other time, a simple shift in mindset can be transformative for your inner strength and ability to cope with whatever comes your way.
When the happenings of the world get too much and you’re not sure how to process it all, remember that although you can’t always control what goes on outside of yourself, you have full authority over what happens within.
In essence, the world may appear to be a frightening place at times, but the key is in how you react and respond to it.
This is where positive thinking comes in.
Is your glass half-empty or half-full?
Although perhaps overused, how you answer this age-old question may say a lot your outlook on life, your attitude toward yourself, and whether you’re optimistic or pessimistic.
Positive thinking doesn’t mean keeping your head buried in the sand, but rather that you approach life’s challenges in a more productive way.
Assume that the best is going to happen, though you are prepared for the worst
Sure, we may have been given a tricky situation right now-cancelled travel plans, uncertain economy, and a limited social life. But what if we see the present circumstances as an enforced social detox? Many of us claim that we will spend more time focusing on ourselves, shutting the world out temporarily and taking the time to read and learn. Well – now we have been given that opportunity! Train your eye to see the silver lining.
Positive thinking often starts with a positive inner-monologue. If the thoughts that run through your mind are mostly filled with anxiety-inducing negativity, your entire outlook on life and your own self-worth will be tarnished. On the other hand, if your thoughts are more positive, your entire perception of the world and your place in it will be all the better.
If you’re a self-confessed pessimist, though, don’t fret too much – you can learn to turn negative thinking into positive thinking. The process is simple, but it does take time and practice — you’re creating a new habit, after all.
Make positive thinking your default with these tips:
Surround yourself with positivity.
Make sure you spend most of your precious time with positive, supportive people you can depend on to give helpful advice and engage in productive conversations that lift you up rather than drag you down. Negative or toxic people may drain your energy and motivation levels, only elevating your levels of stress and self-doubt. We all need to lend an ear to a suffering friend from time to time, but if someone in your life is persistently negative and doesn’t appear to be trying to make things better, then sometimes you must be selfish, darling. The same goes for the content you consume and the music you listen to – everything you expose yourself to has an effect on your outlook so don’t be afraid to take some control over this for your own mental wellbeing.
To feed this new, positive outlook, try following this simple rule: Don’t say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to anyone else. Be gentle, encouraging, and forgiving to yourself as you would be to a dear friend. If a negative thought about yourself enters your mind, evaluate it rationally and respond with affirmations of what is good about you. How would you feel if someone else spoke to your best friend in that way? Defend yourself as you would somebody else and try to stop only seeing your worst qualities.
As you may have heard, we’re all about practising gratitude here at Selfish Darling! Try to acknowledge the blessings in your life each day with a gratitude journal. Just this simple act of recognising what you can be grateful for – your friends, family, health – the roof over your head and the food in your fridge – is all crucial for maintaining a positive mindset.
Call out your “catastrophising.”
Periodically during the day, stop and evaluate what you’re thinking. If you find that your thoughts are mainly negative and assuming the very worst, try to find a way to put a positive spin on them. Reassure yourself that whatever comes, you are strong and intelligent, and you can face it. Whatever somebody else may think of you, as long as you think highly of yourself and stay true to your values, you can pull through anything. Repeat these affirmations internally like mantras and you will eventually train yourself to stop spiralling into panic at the sight of any obstacle.
Be open to humour.
Give yourself permission to smile or laugh, especially during difficult times. Seek the humourous side in everyday happenings. When you can laugh at life, you feel less stressed and find the harder moments a little easier to deal with.
Move your body.
Aim to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day – even if on some days this is simply a brisk walk or at-home yoga session. Exercise can positively affect a persistent low mood and reduce stress – so it’s important you force yourself to move your body even when you really don’t feel like it! Once the blood starts pumping, you will feel some immediate positive effects.
Feed your body and mind.
Also, be sure to follow a mostly healthy diet to fuel your mind and body with the nutrients they need to function at their best. This includes a back-to-basics approach to your diet, and a careful consideration for your vitamin D intake especially now that the vast majority – or perhaps all – of your time is currently spent indoors.
Practise positive thinking every day
Overall, if you tend to have more of a negative outlook, you can’t expect to become an optimist overnight. But with practice, eventually, your inner-monologue will become a lot kinder. It will contain less self-criticism and more self-acceptance. You may also become less critical of the people and the world around you – and start to be more hopeful about the future, despite any present challenges you may be facing.
Look around – every single person you know or come across is facing challenges and struggles. Granted, some struggles are greater than others. But from the outside, you often can’t tell who is under the most anguish at any given time – because we all process stress and hardship differently.
When your state of mind is generally optimistic, you’re better able to handle everyday stress in a more constructive way, and look to the future with more positivity. And this ability can have a huge benefit on your mental, physical and emotional wellbeing.