Tips To Have A Positive Outlook
Have you been in a winter slump? We were supposed to have a rainy winter this year, but sadly, the rain hasn’t quite hit California yet, so while I know we are very lucky weather-wise, the rest of the country is struggling.
Being in cold, damp weather day in and day out can cause Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression that is related to a change in seasons. Treatment for SAD may include light therapy, psychotherapy and medication. Seeking treatment you’re your doctor is imperative, but there are some habits that people who are generally happy practice that you can try at home. Why not give them a try? It can’t hurt!
1. Express Gratitude for What You Have: People who are thankful for what they have are better able to cope with stress, have more positive emotions and are better able to reach their goals. Consider keeping a gratitude journal next to your bed so that you can write one or two things in it each day. Even on our worst days, we can be grateful that we woke up in the morning, or that the day is behind us.
2. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff: I recently read an article about decision making that said that when you are considering a decision, think about its impact 10 minutes from now, 10 hours from now and 10 years from now. I think that is so helpful in putting things into perspective. Are you stressing out about an issue at work? What will be the impact 10 years from now? Will you remember? Are you arguing with your parent about how the dishes get put away? Will you still care in 10 hours? Once you start thinking about how things will affect you in the long, run, it makes it easier to not sweat the small stuff.
3. Live in the Present: Allow yourself to be fully immersed in what you’re doing right now, rather than focusing on the past. This one can be so hard for some people, but it is so critical to happiness. You can’t change what was in the past, you can’t predict the future, you can only live in the present. If you struggle with this one, you may want to consider practicing mindful meditation, or just mindfulness. There are a ton of tutorials and guided meditation apps and videos on YouTube, so you don’t need to make a big financial investment to try this strategy.
4. Surround Yourself with Positive People: The saying “misery loves company” is entirely true. Surround yourself with positive energy. This may be a challenge as well, particularly if you are caring for someone who is not a positive person. While you can’t change their personality, or even disconnect from them, you can try to reach out to others who will bring that positive mindset into your life. Perhaps you join a support group – on or offline, or you carve out time with your favorite people, or maybe you are the positive person and just need to step away from negative energy and spend time alone to re-energize. Whatever it is that brings you positive energy, strive to add that to your day or week.
5. Nurture Social Relationships: Positive social relationships are a key to happiness so be sure to make time to visit with friends, family and significant others. Caring for others can be very isolating, particularly if you are caring for someone with severe health or cognitive challenges. If you don’t have a support system, it can be difficult to take time away. If you don’t have a family member or friend who can take the reins so that you can get away, consider reaching out to a support organization. For example, some non profits, such as the Alzheimer’s Association, offer support to give you a break from your caregiving duties. All you need to do is reach out and find out the requirements.
6. Eat well: What you eat can impact your mood and energy levels, but eating well can fall low on your to do list when you are busy. I hate to buy pre-chopped fruit of vegetables because they cost more. Recently, I realized that while I am buying my fruit and vegetables whole to save money, most weeks I throw out a ton of produce because I never got around to preparing it. Had I purchased the pre-cut variety, I would have been able to grab and go, saving money and eating healthier!
7. Exercise: Exercise boosts levels of health-promoting brain chemicals that make you feel happy. Again, this is a tough one when you are already caring for someone else and barely have time to breathe. Are there ways to squeeze a little bit of exercise into your day? Can you do some stretches when you get up or before you go to bed? Can you do a 10 minute YouTube workout while your parent is napping? Any little bit helps. At this point, it isn’t about weight loss or looking fit, it is about mental wellbeing, so whatever you can fit in will make a world of difference.
8. Accept What Can’t Be Changed: Life is not perfect. Happy people accept injustices and put their energy into what they can control.
The reality is, no one can be happy all the time. We all have our challenges and living in a world where people put their highlight reel for all to see on social media can make you feel like everyone is happier and doing better than you are. The only thing we can do is remember that people aren’t sharing their bad days or the day-to-day drudgery and try to work on our own perspective to make life more joyful.
What tricks do you have for being happier?