Positive thinking is a way to help you cope with unpleasantness in a more productive way. It helps you to stop beating yourself over situations where sometimes you may have no control over. No, we’re not talking about toxic positivity. You don’t have to dismiss or avoid why you feel stressed. But If you find yourself constantly talking to yourself in a negative way, you can learn positive thinking skills where you confront the difficult emotions and learn what they’re telling you.
Positive thinking starts with self-talk. It changes your approach when it comes to handling tough situations. You learn how to think that the best is going to happen, not the worst. “If we look at anxiety from a psychological understanding, we think about it as a miscalculation. Anxiety happens when we overestimate the likelihood that something bad will happen and underestimate our ability to handle it,” Natalie Dattilo, PhD, clinical psychologist and director of psychology at Brigham & Women’s Hospital, told Healthline.
Time and practice are your friends when it comes to bringing optimism into your life and help reduce anxious feelings. Here’s what you can do:
1. Shift Your Thinking
It’s like rewiring your brain. Identify areas of your life that you usually think negatively about. Acknowledge there are different ways of thinking of the situation. If you find yourself constantly asking: what if I fail? Try asking this instead: what if I succeed? This practice takes time so don’t give up too soon! “Many people abandon their efforts too soon before noticing any change has stuck and maintained. An important part of treatment is a maintenance stage where we have done a lot of thought editing/active treatment and then spend time practicing the new way of thinking and consolidating or storing those ideas so they are more available to you and become the default way of thinking,” Dattilo said.
2. Look At Yourself As a Loved One
When your friend or family member is going through a hard time, would you ever tell them that they are not worthy? They should just give up? They are failures? Never, right? So why do you talk to yourself in a negative way? Look at yourself with love and compassion. Remind yourself that you’ve been through so many hurdles in life, and you’ve come back stronger. Give yourself some credit. Whatever obstacle is in front of you, you have more power to overcome it than you can imagine. Trust in yourself and your strength. Be your own best friend.
3. Surround Yourself With Positive People
It’s important to have supportive people you can depend on to give helpful advice and feedback. Feeling connected with people who are calm and helpful can help ease your tensions. People who are negative can add further stress and make you more anxious. Being socially isolated can also make you feel stressed where most of your time you will be extra focussed on negative thoughts. So reconnect with people who make you feel good and hopeful about life!
4. Stay Active And Healthy
Try and get some exercise at least for 30 minutes across most days of the week. Go out for a walk and enjoy time in nature. Follow a healthy diet and hydrate. Movement and mindfulness about your health can positively affect your mood and stress levels. “The parts of the brain that regulate emotion or might contribute to the fight-or-flight response, which is an anxiety response that sets off intense hormonal changes in the body and affects different systems, can begin to do damage to your body. That’s why things like exercise and medication can be helpful for regulating anxiety and mood, even though they are not directly targeting the things you are thinking — they are kind of bypassing that and going straight to the biology,” said Dattilo.
Just have patience with yourself. These things may take some time, but the results are abosultely worth. You have one life… and you really do have the power to make it amazing!