Affecting Positive Change
By: Bonny Osterhage
We recently stumbled across a quote that read, “the attitude you bring to the day is what the day will bring to you.” In other words, the better your outlook and attitude, the better your day will be.
Sounds simple enough, right? But is it really that easy? The honest answer? Not in today’s world.
We are still in the middle of a global pandemic. Some of us have fallen ill. Some of us have lost loved ones. Many of us have lost jobs, and those of us who haven’t, might be wondering how they’re going to continue to work if their children can’t go back to school.
Staying positive has never been more challenging, particularly if you tend to be a “glass half empty” person by nature… but it can be done! In fact, research show it SHOULD be done in order to maintain both physical and mental wellness. An article from the New York Times stated that, “studies show an indisputable link between having a positive outlook and health benefits, like lower blood pressure, less heart disease, better weight control, and healthier blood sugar levels.”
So how can you go about keeping your chin up when everything around you feels like it’s crumbling down? Below are a few easy ways to start.
- Look at your environment: It’s easy to be influenced by external factors, especially in today’s world where we are inundated with news sources all day, every day. Take a good, hard look at what you are surrounding yourself with. Are you watching the news all day? Are you scrolling the Internet, absorbing the latest headlines? Are you following people on social media who make you feel anxious or bad about yourself? Then stop! Turn off the television or computer and go for a walk outside. Remove yourself from negative people both on social media and in real life. When that isn’t possible, often in the case of co-workers or family, walk away from the conversation, or politely change the subject to something more positive. Eventually, they will get the hint.
- Start each day in a positive way: What you do in the morning sets the tone for your day. Are you starting it by picking up your phone or checking your inbox? Try changing your morning routine and starting the day with meditation. There are plenty of apps to guide you if you don’t know how to start. Start a “grateful journal” and take a moment each morning to list 3-5 things you are grateful for. It can be something as small as your morning cup of coffee or as big as the fact that you opened your eyes today.
- Turn off your inner critic: We all have that voice in our head that tells us that we aren’t good enough, pretty enough, young enough, skinny enough…you name it. Would you talk to someone you love that way? Of course not—so start loving yourself. Give yourself daily affirmations and pep talks. Simple phrases like, “You’ve got this,” before a big presentation or, “your body is strong and capable,” before a workout, or “you are a good and loving mother,” on the days your children are trying your patience, can go a long way in reshaping the way you see yourself.
- Stay present: In today’s fast paced world, we spend a lot of time rushing from one thing to the next, both physically, and mentally. We look at our phones while eating, rather than savoring the meal. We are thinking ahead to what we want to say next, rather than actively listening to our friends or partners. By staying in the moment, we can alleviate the anxiety that comes from always looking ahead and worrying about what comes next. The next time you feel your mind wandering or your fingers itching to pick up that mobile device, take a few deep breaths and refocus on what you are doing in the moment.
- Perform an act of kindness: If you’ve ever been the recipient of the “pay it forward” movement in the Starbucks line, you know how that free cup of coffee can make your entire day! It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. You can smile and say hello to someone, hold a door open, compliment a co-worker…. even the smallest act can have a positive effect on you and others around you.
Remember, it takes time to build a new healthy habit or cultivate a lifestyle change. Be patient and keep going; take it one day at a time.