Yes, a new year may arrive with new stress, which may not help you to see the bright side of things, but a simple change of perspective – positive thinking – could help you to cope better with daily stress and may turn your overall well-being around for the better.
We all know that chronic stress can be bad for your mental and physical health, unlike a short-term dose of stress, which may motivate you to finish a task or help you to escape danger, for example. One of the symptoms of chronic stress is negative thinking, or pessimism. Now imagine how much better you’d cope with stress and how beneficial it would be for your health if you could change your negative thoughts into positive ones. Here are a few tips to help you form this potentially life-changing habit…
Health benefits of positivity
Though researchers are still trying to figure out why optimists experience health benefits, there is evidence that a positive mindset is beneficial. The benefits of positivity may include lower stress levels and depression rates. Therefore, optimists may experience better psychological and physical well-being. Optimists may also, therefore, have better stress coping skills, as well as better immune systems and cardiovascular health.
Negative thoughts may have a sneaky tendency to attack you personally with self-criticism, lowering your self-esteem. It’s not always easy to tell yourself that you’re beautiful and amazing just after you’ve woken up and you still have an outrageous case of bedhead. However, if you stand up straight, shoulders back and chin up, in front of a mirror and remember just how unique and awesome you are, bedhead and all, it may help to boost your confidence and get into the right headspace for the day. If it helps, paste a sticky note on your mirror with this or quote from Dr Seuss: “Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is your than you.”
People who complain and are critical all the time no matter the situation tend to bring down morale in their workplace and/or social groups. Their friends, colleagues and even family members may fall into the trap of complaining along with them, beginning a never-ending cycle of pessimism.
It may be difficult, especially at work, but try to spend less time around negative people. Surround yourself with those who support you and who are, for example, innovative and see difficult situations as learning opportunities.
You could also try and lift spirits at work by putting a positive spin on tasks that may seem impossible to do, for example, look at it from a different perspective, or simply try again and not give up. Winston Churchill once said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” So, remember, it’s okay to make mistakes as they’re great learning curves! (See what we did there? Positive spin!)
To help you to focus on the positive things in your life, write down at least five things every day for which you are grateful. They don’t need to be exceptional – you could just be grateful for the air you breathe, your morning cup of coffee, or the hearty greeting a colleague gave you in an online meeting.
Sometimes, negative thoughts stem from deep-seated issues. The following tip does not mean that you shouldn’t deal with your problems or seek help from a mental health professional. It’s merely a coping strategy for times when it’s difficult to seek help immediately.
Whenever you think about an issue that affects you deeply, try to replace your thoughts with memories of a positive experience, such as dinner with a good friend, or a trip that you enjoyed. If you’re struggling to think of something pleasant, read a page or two of your gratitude journal to help you to shift your thoughts away from whatever may be upsetting you.
While the above tips may help you to turn your thoughts around in the long-run, you may still need to speak to a mental health professional if you’re experiencing depression and/or anxiety, or you’ve been affected by a traumatic situation. Whatever the reason, no matter how big or small, help is available. The right advice and treatment plan may help you to enjoy life again and help you to cope with stress better.
In the meantime, smile, stand tall and look for the best outcomes in everything you do. Always remember that there is no one else like you. While it may not be an overnight process, positive thinking is a worthwhile daily exercise to be able to deal with stress more constructively, which, in turn, as both mental and physical health benefits.
Bestmed has also partnered with the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) to offer members a free 24-hour mental health helpline, with the aim to support members who experience mental health issues by managing its effects, providing additional support and improving quality of life. To make use of this Bestmed Tempo wellness programme benefit, contact SADAG via: