Does ‘staying positive’ prove harder than it sounds? We share advice on coping with negative thoughts and cultivating good ones.
Do you find yourself focusing on the negatives? Are you a glass-half-empty kind of person?
You’re not alone. In fact, the impulse to dwell on the negatives is thought to be hard-wired into us, a hangover from humankind’s early days when we had to be constantly on the alert.
But that doesn’t mean that being negative is inevitable. Cultivating a positive outlook is possible for everyone, though it may take some work.
We’ve put together a list of helpful tips and tricks to help you manage and overcome negative thoughts as well as bolstering your positivity.
Learn to separate fact from fiction
Negative thoughts aren’t necessarily logical or factual. This in itself can be a useful mantra if you find the bad thoughts creeping in.
When we’re being negative, we tend to exaggerate how bad things are. Try to take an objective view of things, they may not be as bad as they seem.
Address your negative thoughts head on
Rather than shying away from your negative thoughts, take the time to really think about them.
Ask yourself, are they rational thoughts? Is this the only way to react to your situation? Could you adopt a different point of view?
If you’re reacting to recent events or information, take a breather and come back to it later. Do you still feel as bad?
It helps to balance each negative with a positive, finding silver linings wherever possible. Of course, this won’t always be possible. You don’t have to be positive 100% of the time.
Choose your information sources wisely
Modern technology is wonderful but it’s not perfect. The internet is bursting with misinformation, unhelpful resources and even downright lies.
If you’re worrying about something in particular – such as the threat of COVID-19 – think about where you’re getting your information from. Is it a reputable source?
Get your news from an established channel and take everything else with a pinch of salt, especially what you read on social media.
It’s thought that social media can have a serious impact on your mental health. Once a month, why not go through and unfollow any accounts that make you feel negative, unhappy or anxious, or that make you feel bad about your own circumstances.
Actively spend time each day thinking positively
If you don’t naturally focus on the positive, you can train your brain to do so by actively thinking positive thoughts as often as possible.
You may want to set aside a little time every few days or at the end of each week to think about the good things that have happened and the things you’re looking forward to. Some people find it helps to write a list.
The more you practice gratitude and positivity, the more positive your overall mental attitude will become.
Encourage positive emotions
The simplest way to look at this is, do things that make you happy. Keep up your hobbies, stay connected with loved ones, look after yourself and treat yourself to something nice now and again.
These things seem small, but hackneyed as the saying may be, it often is the small things that make the difference.
Create a positive support network
Research shows that spending too much time around negative people can make you more negative.
So, if you’re prone to feeling down or having a low period, think about the people you are interacting with. Are any of them encouraging, or even creating, your negative thoughts?
Hard as it may be, it’s important to look after yourself, and it may be time to step back from these people, or at least limit your interactions.
Focus instead on surrounding yourself with people with positive attitudes who will support you and encourage you to be happy and relaxed.
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