There are good days and then there are bad. The bad somehow almost always gets us feeling heavier than sometimes the good does and it can easily lead us to a downward spiral to a rut. I’ve definitely learned over the years that staying positive is almost a skill to train yourself to do through practice. I’ve also learned that your mind is so much stronger than you think it is and whatever your mind can focus on, the better you can also carry yourself through this tough adventure called life.
I like to see that the summer days can have its transition into fall days, where the sun isn’t always there or the green-leaf trees have transformed to different vivid lighter colors but one thing remains and that’s that the locations are still there and a constant state to be there. This same analogy can be applied to you when you’re in a state of feeling anxious about the future (or the past), feeling bummed about a situation in your life, or feeling like it’s the end of the world.
It’s hard enough to get through day-to-day in life. Especially when you’re prone to things that can frustrate you. For example, I used to be so much healthier and more active but my physical health/body is no longer the same like it used to be due to struggling with chronic illness and I find myself easily tired and worn out than average people. That alone can take the joy of my day away, but through it all, I try to remain positive. I try to still look forward to things and not let the pain define my overall wellbeing.
People who meet me in person and are friends with me will often say they notice I am a positive person, which surprises me considering how much things can go wrong in my life and I think it all has to do with the things I’ve trained myself to cope with for my anxiety for years.
So, I have gathered 10 smart habits that I do that I think can inspire you too on how you can also stay positive.
I know it can almost seem weird to share things that sound positive when you’re already at a low, but you’ve probably heard the saying “Fake it til you make it.” That saying, I’m not going to lie, has helped me through the majority of my adulthood so far. One way to “fake it til you make it” is to talk about positive things and topics with people you interact with daily or if you are constantly on social media, share a positive quote or status. You might find some uplifting quotes that someone has once said or a story of positivity from the news, those can do it too.
Another thing is if you remember a day or event that made you wear a grin from ear to ear, then I would definitely reshare how that day made you feel! If there’s something in the day so far that made you smile just as much, even if it’s the smallest thing ever, then reflect back on it and share it with a friend or family, or co-worker.
2. Get some good rest, eat well, and stay hydrated.
These are probably some really known tips that you’ve heard hundreds to thousands of times already. And it’s easier to always say than to do… Every. Single. Day. Getting a good night’s rest will help you feel better the following day by helping you concentrate, to think with a clearer and open mind, helping you with motivation, and it can also regulate your mood. When you eat well, you are also doing the same thing for your body but putting in the necessary nutrients that your body craves too. You also want to stay hydrated as much as possible with water! I cut back from drinking soda often or drinks that trigger me with jitters.
Another pro tip, don’t use technology before you go to sleep and right when you wake up. I know this is the hardest habit to break (even for me!!) because we all have a tendency to check our latest emails or to scroll around a bit on social media, but you may find yourself wanting to sleep earlier if you cut back on using technology and then as you wake up and choose to hop right back on technology, you could start gathering thoughts that may make you question it throughout the day. What we see and think of early on in a day can set the tone for the rest of that day.
3. Find something to be grateful for everyday. Write about it if you can. Or pray about it.
Life is sooo complicated that we are all just caught up in the motions of the daily. We work a lot, we (probably) study a lot, and balance a bunch of different relationships in our lives, and we are caught up stressed in our life situations. However, everyday, take some time each day to reflect on what you can be grateful for — even if it’s only one thing. You can also jot down 3 things to be grateful for in a list if you journal. If you’re religious and faith is a big thing in your life as it is for me, I would pray about what you hope to happen throughout the day in the morning and then state your gratitude too. The more you can think of what to be grateful for, the more you’ll remember that life is not as terrible as it seems.
4. Think about your possibilities and don’t focus on your limitations.
As I’ve mentioned, my health sucks. At least right now. I have limits and I need to accept that. But thinking about what you’re limited to or what problems can hold you back on can really bring your confidence down. Positive people focus on solutions and what other possibilities they can still be encouraged to do rather than saying “I can’t”.
I still allow myself to get on a hike and get involved in a sweaty sports activity even when I’m easily out of breath and my joints hurt because I believe I can still allow myself to move, just not push over my limits. Also, when you figure out new solutions to a problem rather than accepting there’s only one way to solve it, you’re doing yourself a service to trust yourself and that it doesn’t have to be the end to something. Positive people may view their limitations as temporary setbacks.
5. Don’t ruminate on your fears or the “what ifs”.
You probably see a theme already that to stay positive is to allow your confidence to break through. Instead of holding onto fears and letting them not let you go for something, you’ll be surprised what awesome outcomes can come out of just facing those fears. If you look past the questions you analyze like “what if this and that happens after I say or do this?”, you can feel this weight off your shoulder if you just go for it.
6. Surround yourself with positive people every time.
When I decided to cut some toxic people out of my life (yes that includes close friends of a few years), I realized my life had this calm to it that I hadn’t felt in so long but a calm I actually have been praying for. This is because for so long I thought it was normal to go with the up and down feelings of allowing people to continue to do things to my self-esteem or self-respect, but NO, it is not normal. It made me think that their behavior was a direct result of something I did, but I learned that there was more there on the surface of themselves. It was so easy for me to just take things personal simply because they were close to me.
When they say, you are who you surround yourself with — it is true! We may attract and get close to people who resemble things we are too ourselves. But, if you are looking to improve your wellbeing or your overall life, then know and accept why having someone in your life may no longer serve you.
Do not be afraid to cut off toxic people out of your life. I knowww it is so much easier said than done, especially if you have built so many wonderful years of memories with someone, but if the relationship you have with that person is enough to add so much more stress and trauma to your life, it’s really time to evaluate it.
If it is your family who adds stress to your life, remember we did not choose our own family, but we can certainly choose our own friends. With family that you cannot just drop, you can figure out how to maintain boundaries, even with friends. Don’t let yourself be so available to whoever is making you doubt yourself as a person and know when to separate yourself in situations that have a tendency to drain you out of your emotions.
7. Expand your knowledge by reading a lot and watching the most helpful things.
I love doing this. In fact, I get SO lost in my pastimes of reading articles for hours (or watching a boat load of self-help videos on YouTube — TED talks too are the bomb!). I really love learning about other people’s perspectives on how they manage stress or certain life situations because let’s face it, we are not equipped to know everything on how to do things and our parents did not teach us everything. You can also learn from these things if you’re curious about how to start a certain project or looking to solve a question of how to do something.
The more you read about things and listen to a divergence of topics, the more confident you’ll be in knowing a lot of things. Also, it makes you more positive because you can share what you’ve learned with people and sharing certainly is caring. Stimulate that brain of yours!
8. Be on the go (without overdoing it).
A lot of positive people are always finding things to do to fill their time with. It’s often said that staying busy when something upsetting happens is a good thing, and honestly, that’s almost right. When you stay busy, you are letting yourself not feel like you have to dwell on something that worries you. However, I say this is almost right to an extent because it is also okay to just sit with those feelings, even if it’s going to feel hard and uncomfortable. It is okay to just sit down and meditate through your feelings to reflect on them.
9. Be good at communicating.
Communication is something I’m pretty good at doing. Not only did I study it through college (more like my focus was on the business side of it but there were a lot of theories we looked into too), but I try to be good at communicating with anyone. I love to talk about things such as addressing my concerns or to be able to just express myself.
I actually am not a fan of avoiding things that matter to me OR to someone else and I will leave it open for us to work through it together. Communicating things can really help you decide what to do next rather than feeling lost in a struggle. And remember when I said to think about the possibilities and not the limitations? When you talk about things with others, you’ll be opening a jar of possibilities to pick up from, possibly.
10. Be encouraging in your self-talk.
Having optimism really starts from having beliefs within your inner self. So shift your language on how you view yourself and how you place yourself in these anxiety-inducing situations. According to Dr. Natalie Dattilo, a clinical and health psychologist who specializes in the treatment of depression, anxiety, stress, insomnia, and other health conditions, she says “Anxiety happens when we overestimate the likelihood that something bad will happen and underestimate our confidence and ability to handle it, falling into a pattern of pessimism. Begin to tell yourself, no matter what happens, that you’ve got this and are able to move forward. Because you are!”
Would you say you’re working on your optimism too? If so, have you tried any of these tips for yourself?