Think Positive, Reduce Stress!
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Think Positive, Reduce Stress!

Think Positive, Reduce Stress!

The alarm goes off, you want to sleep in but you can't. You open your phone, hoping social media with help you wake up but instead you get a news alert, your blood starts pumping, you scroll past it to a post from your best friend about politics. You feel like you're going to explode. You're barely starting off the day and your chest is tight, anxiety and anger are surrounding you.

There is a time and place for every emotion you've felt through life but in todays world where most of our interaction is happening across the internet we are experiencing triggers that are setting off our emotions to the extent of fight or flight. Those responses shouldn't happen as often as they are, or that early in the morning.

Positive thinking isn't just positive thinking, it's also creating the best environment for yourself in order to accomplish that goal. If you can find the right balance and activities then the power of thinking positive can decrease stress and make every moment worth experiencing. 

About 4 years ago I made the conscious choice to be a positive person and honestly it was the best choice I've ever made because I'm able to be happy without trying, I don't have to try and think positive, I am positive.

Here are the steps you can take so you can experience a more positive, less stressed life:

1. Set up a safe space. You're very vulnerable in bed, you sleep there and while you're completely unconscious you want to be safe from harm, right? You're thinking physical harm but emotional harm can be very damaging as well. Bringing your phone in bed and scrolling through posts might seem completely innocent but with each passing day, that world becomes noisier, more cluttered and chaotic. Social media is now a way to stay constantly connected to current events and other peoples emotions. There is a time and place for all of that but before bed or right when you wake up, isn't one of them. By checking your phone or scrolling through social while you're in your bed, you're allowing emotions into your safe space. That's right, your safe space can be as tiny as just your bed. It doesn't have to be your whole room (though it certainly can be) but keep an area that is free of the days events and other peoples opinions out of your safe space. This will reduce stress and also train your mind to be calm when you go to bed, by setting alarms early and not checking your phone for any last text messages you're also letting your mind wind down. Other benefits of this can be a more sound sleep which can reduce stress.

2. Repeat positive information. There is a reason that people are praising gratitude journals and positive thinking meditation. It's because it's working. Surrounding yourself with positive things rubs off and makes you lighter and happier. You can even increase your positivity by using positive words in your day to day life. When you force your brain to use positive words, you're making them more accessible. The more you use them, the more you're allowing positive thinking into your full day.

3. Celebrate your small and big wins. We often downplay our success and our "wins". A great way to feel more accomplished or to remember everything you've accomplished through the day is by making a list. You know those days where you feel like you've done nothing? You probably did a lot but it all falls together and becomes one thing. Try making a list of things you'd like to accomplish for the day, no matter how small (Write a short story, read ten pages of a book, wash clothes, take a walk, make dinner). Cross them out as you finish them. Make a list of things you'd like to accomplish through the month too and eventually for that year. Right now you're accomplishing something by making an effort to be happier, that's a big deal. You're working towards improving your ability to think positive. Give yourself credit, and take note of your wins.

4. Generate positive emotions by watching fun videos. Seems simple enough, surrounding yourself with positivity makes a difference, this is based on the "broaden-and-build theory" which states that positive emotions open our mind and also help us process the residue of negative emotions. You can either open a fun video on your phone (maybe of people dancing or your favorite scene in a movie.) You can also take it a step farther and start trying to surround yourself with positive movies, positive books, positive people. The more positivity your surround yourself with, the happier you'll be. Positive emotions contribute to happiness. Positive things rub off on you and soon you'll have positive thoughts!

5. Practice gratitude. Gratitude is when we feel or express thankfulness for people, as well as things and experiences we have. When we are grateful in our day-to-day lives we can find more satisfaction and meaning to every moment and bring about positive feelings. Practice by taking 5 minutes out of your day to write down three good or positive things about your day. At the end of the week, read everything you wrote down to remind yourself what an awesome week it was. That doesn't mean that your week is perfect or that there aren't an infinite number of things to be angry, sad, or anxious about. However, there are also an infinite number of things to feel passionate, joyful, and excited about. Take a moment to decide what you'd rather focus on. 

6. Identify Negative habits. Practicing being positive is great but at the end of the day, negative habits will hold you back. If you can identify negative habits, no matter how small and put a stop to them, your positive habits will go that much farther. An example of a small negative habit that has impact is scrolling through social media and rolling your eyes at your friends job promotion. Those few seconds of jealousy leave a bad feeling in your gut because you're comparing yourself to another person. "The only person you should be comparing yourself to, is who you were yesterday." - Amy Morin. The same goes for hard work, it's a common misconceptions that hard-work equals success. When we work hard and success doesn't come, we feel bitter, like the world owes us something (this particular one, I've personally struggled with). Try to live life without those expectations and work hard because you enjoy it and know that it brings you closer to your goals. This will allow you to be more positive as that negative energy isn't getting in the way.

 

The word "positive" actually has a very interesting definition, it's "consisting in or characterized by the presence or possession of features or qualities rather than their absence." Which seems pretty simple, it's the glass half full saying vs. the glass half empty. Which seems so innocent but really does show a subconscious level of positive thoughts verse negative thoughts.

The bottom line is, emotions are part of every second of your day. Positive things are happening around you but maybe you aren't noticing them. Taking the time to gain more control over your thoughts and to make a conscious choice to make them positive will impact your life for the better. To consciously choose to think loving thoughts, and focus on peaceful energy you'll be able to thrive even in uncertain times. I know how impossible that can seem at times, especially now but that's why it's also the perfect time to start being more positive. If you find yourself stuck in negative thoughts, try to find positive solutions for those life elements that are bringing you down.

Sometimes it can feel hopeless starting something new but try taking small steps. You don't have to leap into all 5 positive suggestions above in a day. Your world is what you make it, but that doesn't work unless you believe that you can change it. Trust me, you can. You have the strength to be happy and to think positive even on some of the most difficult days. If you don't believe me, take 15 minutes out of your day to listen to this powerful TedTalk on being mentally strong which I believe has very strong ties to positive thinking: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TFbv757kup4

Again, don't forget that taking the first step to being a more positive person just happened because you read this blog, you're taking control of your life and of your stress. Keep being awesome and focus on the power of being positive because it will be worth it!

 

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