When was the last time someone reminded you about the importance of staying positive during stressful times? Was it just 10 minutes ago? A week ago? A month ago? Well, we can’t be reminded enough because, now more than ever, we all know what stress is. These past several months have undoubtedly been incredibly challenging, ever-changing, and putting us all in the position to dig deep at times to try to understand and to know the best ways to adjust and to navigate.
We should focus on both the “Why?” and the “How?” when it comes to refraining from negative thinking. So first, why is it important to stay positive? Ultimately, many reasons exist for staying positive, and the first one is increased resilience. When we choose to stay positive and we kind of gut things out and go through life smiling through the chaos instead of feeling sorry for ourselves or neglecting our self-care, we improve our resilience; we want to be stronger because it inevitably helps us to be the best version of ourselves.
The second “why” is reduced stress. When we’re more positive, we are more apt to laugh at the nonsense and accept this craziness is happening in our world, and although we don’t always have the answers or know what is going on, we know we are going to get through it. Having less stress can also lead to an improved mood and help you navigate through daily life better. The third “why” is that overall, your health is going to improve; your sleep is going to be better and how you move and fuel your body will generally be more positive.
Maintaining a positive mindset filters into all sorts of areas in your life – your relationships with others, your mood, your energy levels, your hydration levels, and more. The Mayo Clinic conducted a study in which over five years, 7,000 patients who practiced optimism demonstrated a reduced risk of stroke, heart attack, and death. WOW, right? Talk about truly illuminating the power of positivity!
The “why” almost becomes “why not,” like why wouldn’t we try to stay positive? It’s not always going to be babies and sunshine and roses and kittens, I get that, but we do have to sometimes separate reality from our thinking. We must engineer our brain to generally try to stay more on the positive path because ultimately that is going to set us up for more success.
So how do we practice positivity and optimism? Undeniably, it is a choice, and every day we have two things we can control: 1) Our attitude 2) Our effort. We can choose to acknowledge our blessings and rise above the tumultuous times. Below are five self-reflection questions that are going to jumpstart your positivity and optimism!
1) How am I staying connected?
Are you cultivating your friendships and relationships? Are you keeping in touch with family, friends, and co-workers? Many people are working from home, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have people that are still there for you or people that need you to be there for them. So, it’s a reciprocity-type deal. When you’re staying positive and when you’re staying in touch with others, everybody wins.
2) Am I maintaining a schedule?
Keeping a schedule can help individuals feel a stronger sense of purpose. When tasks are completed, goals are accomplished, hygiene is kept intact, boxes are checked off the to-do list, it can lead to increased fulfillment. Maintaining a schedule and a strong sense of accomplishment can make us more equipped to stay on that positive track.
3) How am I moving and fueling my body today?
What kind of exercise or activity are you going to get into your day? Maybe it’s yard work, maybe it’s taking a walk around the block, maybe it’s yoga, maybe it’s deep breathing and stretching. Everybody has a niche they can fill. Movement doesn’t necessarily have to be high-intensity exercise, and it’s not a one-size-fits-all for everybody. It’s important to breathe and move and get your body moving. It’s not just for physical benefits, but mentally when we can release endorphins, we are doing positive things for our mind as well. It’s like a mental workout; we’re working on a mental sweat today!
Fueling your body is along the same track. We do want to make sure we are drinking enough water (you should be drinking half of your body weight in ounces of water each day), that we are trying to get enough fruits and veggies each day (aim for five cups) and that we are consciously aware of what we are eating and drinking. Again, it’s not a one size fits all for everybody, so in light of your body and dietary needs, what are some of the healthier foods, the more nutrient-dense options, that you can fuel your body with? We all know what it’s like to eat too much pizza or junk food and perhaps binge on Netflix, yet, that doesn’t always render the best feelings afterward. So, we want to try to avoid that and fuel our better in the best way possible. It’s not always going to be perfect, but consistency is critical. Give yourself some grace and know you are human and are going to make mistakes. We’re all going to fall off the tracks at times, but we want to get back on those tracks as quickly and as smoothly as possible.
4) How can I laugh or play today?
Never underestimate the power of a good chuckle or giggle. Sending memes or jokes or cartoons is such a great way of extending some humor and interjecting some lighter conversation throughout the day, which helps break up the stress and heavy feelings of the unknown a lot of us have felt, especially during this pandemic.
5) What am I grateful for today?
This last question is the most powerful. Right now, write down three blessings in your life…think about the things you are truly grateful for daily. I bet once you write those down, you might find yourself smiling or breathing a sigh of relief, or saying you know what, I do have it pretty good.
Life is always going to throw curveballs our way, and ultimately, it’s how we react to those curveballs that matters. We can take these opportunities of stress, turn the fear and negative feelings around and become stronger. Lean on your support system, be kind to yourself and try to maintain that positive attitude as much as possible: You are worth it!