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When we’re stressed, it’s just waaaay too easy to fall into negative thinking patterns because we’re frustrated by the challenges we’re facing. Not to mention, we’re constantly overwhelmed.
This negative outlook then makes it even harder for us to manage those challenges and move forward and break through the perpetual stress cycle.
Practicing positive thinking helps to focus on our strengths and accomplishments, which increases our inner level of happiness and motivation.
This, in turn, allows us to spend more time moving forward, and less time feeling down and stuck.
Use the following 10 tips to help you shift into more positive thinking patterns!
1. Practice Self Care
Before you write this off, thinking I’m telling you to book an expensive spa day and that will solve your problems, realize that self-care is just another word for self-parenting. It’s forcing yourself to do the things you know you *should* do, but they’re just so easy NOT to!
The truth is, it’s much easier to be positive when you are eating well, exercising regularly, and getting enough rest. Instead of trying to improve your diet, your workouts, and your sleep habits all at once, pick the ONE that you think needs the most help and focus on that one first! Work on the other two when you’ve gotten a good handle on the first one.
2. Be Thankful!
The stress and challenge of daily life don’t seem quite as bad when you are constantly reminding yourself of the things that are going right for you! Taking just 60 seconds a day to stop and appreciate the good things going on in your life will make a huge difference in your state of mind!
3. Look for the Proof Instead of Making Assumptions
A fear of not being liked or accepted sometimes leads us to assume that we know what others are thinking, but our fears are usually not based in reality.
If you have a fear that a friend or family member’s bad mood is due to something you did, or that your coworkers are secretly gossiping about you, just ask them. Don’t waste time worrying that you did something wrong unless you have proof that there is something to worry about.
4. Refrain from Using Absolutes
Have you ever told you’re spouse “You’re always late!” or complained to a friend “You never call me.”? Thinking and speaking in absolutes like always and never makes the situation seem worse than it is, and programs your brain into believing that certain people are incapable of delivering. Rewrite the script and you’re more likely to get a better response!
5. Detach From Negative Thoughts
Your thoughts can’t hold any power over you if you don’t judge them. If you notice yourself having a negative thought, detach from it, witness it, and don’t follow it. Remember, you control the thoughts, not the other way around!
6. Squash the “ANTs”
In his book “Change Your Brain, Change Your Life,” Dr. Daniel Amen talks about “ANTs” – Automatic Negative Thoughts. These are the bad thoughts that are usually reactionary, like “Those people are laughing, they must be talking about me,” or “The boss wants to see me? It must be bad!” When you notice these thoughts, realize that they are nothing more than ANTs and squash them!
7. Get in Touch (with your friends and family)
You don’t have to be an expert to know the benefits of a good hug. Positive physical contact with friends, loved ones, and even pets, is an instant pick me-up. One research study on this subject had a waitress touch some of her customers on the arm as she handed them their checks. She received higher tips from these customers than from the ones she didn’t touch!
8. Increase Your Social Activity
By increasing social activity, you decrease loneliness. Surround yourself with healthy, happy people, and their positive energy will affect you in a positive way!
9. Volunteer for an Organization, or Help Another Person
Everyone feels good after helping. You can volunteer your time, your money, or your resources. The more positive energy you put out into the world, the more you will receive in return.
10. Use Pattern Interrupts to Combat Rumination
Rumination is like hyper-focus on something negative. It’s never productive, because it’s not rational or solution-oriented, it’s just excessive worry and stress.
If you find yourself ruminating, a great way to stop it is to interrupt the pattern and force yourself to do something completely different. Try changing your physical environment – go for a walk or sit outside. You could also call a friend, pick up a book, or turn on some music.
TL;DR – It’s important to understand the signs of stress and react with a positive way of handling it. The key to busting stress is making sure that you look after YOU. As your happiness levels increase, your stress levels decrease.
Have a look at your work life, your personal life, and social life to see if there are any areas you can create more happiness. You might be surprised by what you find!
Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor or Registered Dietitian. The information presented is purely to share my experience and for entertainment purposes. As always, check with a doctor before making any fitness or nutrition changes. The author and blog disclaim liability for any damage, mishap, or injury that may occur from engaging in any activities or ideas from this site.