We all have moments when we realize we’ve been spinning in a negativity spiral and it’s time to pull ourselves out. The thing is that just saying you’re going to be more positive is really hard to put into action. Emotions are complicated and, just like the rest of us, take effort to change. Good habits take time, and specificity helps you create goals that you can actually stick to. Want to lead a more positive life? Here are some simple tips for turning that frown upside down.
Meditation can seem intimidating, but really it’s all about taking quiet moments to be with yourself. After assessing thousands of research studies for quality and accuracy, an investigation published in JAMA Internal Medicine posited that there is some evidence that mindfulness meditation helps reduce stress, feelings of sadness, and even physical pain. Here’s how to try it for yourself.
Step 1: Find a cozy and quiet place to sit comfortably (either in a chair or on the floor).
Step 2: Close your eyes or let your eyes rest gently at a point on the floor in front of you.
Step 3: As your mind begins to wander, notice your thoughts and remind yourself gently to come back to the present moment. No need to beat yourself up. Meditation isn’t about stopping your thoughts, but rather recognizing them and bringing yourself back to the present moment as much as possible.
Step 4: Bring your attention to your breath and how it feels as it enters and exits your lungs.
Try this for 10 or 15 minutes each day. It might feel like a long time at first, but you’ll begin to build your way up to longer periods as you get used to the quiet process.
Pity party of one? We’ve all been there. Research shows that instead of feeling sorry for ourselves, turning to gratitude can increase your mental strength and resilience. A study published in Behavior Research and Therapy showed that veterans with and without PTSD who communicated higher levels of gratitude had a higher incidence of self-esteem, positive attitude, and intrinsic motivation. Here’s how to bring a little more gratitude to your own life.
Step 1: Write down three things you are grateful for at the beginning and end of each day.
Step 2: Try to say thank you to someone who makes your life better at least once per day.
Step 3: Write thank you letters to your loved ones. It doesn’t have to be gift-related!
Step 4: In uncomfortable moments, try to remind yourself to be grateful for the lesson you’re learning.
Step 5: Thank yourself for your commitment to self-improvement with a little me-time or a small indulgence.
Unplug & Chill
It’s a crazy, tech-obsessed world out there, kids, and we’re all just doing our best to cope. At this point, there’s not a lot of convincing evidence that going on a digital diet is good for your health, but one study showed that higher tech use is associated with higher incidences of sleep disturbances and mental health issues. Another study showed that using a light-emitting device before bedtime messes with your sleep. Here are some steps to help you unplug.
Step 1: Leave your phone and computer outside your bedroom at night.
Step 2: Avoid using electronics at least 1-2 hours before bed.
Step 3: Give yourself 30 minutes to an hour each morning before you reach for your phone.
Step 4: Plan tech-free days each weekend where you leave your phone/computer unattended for a few hours.