Chase the blues away with positive thinking
Being constantly under pressure can take its toll on our stress levels and our confidence, but there are simple ways to change your outlook on life.
In many ways we are lucky to live as we do now, with communication, information and entertainment available at the press of a button. But there are disadvantages to our hectic way of life.
Many of us experience more pressure than ever before. At work we’re expected to do more, in less time, and to work longer hours. Or we may face losing our jobs because our company is struggling financially. The results of this kind of pressure can include low self-esteem and feeling irritable and short-tempered.
“There is a lot in our lives to create heightened stress levels,” says behavioural expert Judi James. “If you’re out of work, there is the misery of having no apparent control over your future, but if you have a job you’re probably working under more pressure than normal.
“Stress can be hugely demotivational. It puts our thinking and emotions into survival mode, meaning the longer the stress goes on, the harder we find it to be resilient to life’s problems.”
Not surprisingly this can mean that our relationships at home are often badly affected by stress. Add to this the anxiety caused by the rising costs of living and worry about paying the bills, and it can seem overwhelming.
Keeping a positive outlook
Being able to keep a positive outlook on life can make a huge difference to how we manage when life is difficult. While it might not look easy, developing a ‘can-do’ attitude can help smooth your path, at work, and with family and friends, making home life happier.
You’re also more likely to feel less stressed and anxious and feel more like the real you. The other knock-on effects include enjoying life more, having a feeling of purpose, and even succeeding at job interviews.
How to be optimistic
So how do we stay – or become – a positive thinker in the face of mounting stress levels? Being optimistic can be difficult when times are tough, but there are simple steps that you can take that will help turn your thinking around.
- Spend time with positive, cheerful people.
“A recent study showed that if one half of a couple comes home from work feeling buoyant, within a few hours that good feeling has rubbed off on the other partner,” says Jessica Chivers, life coach and member of the British Psychological Society (BPS). “It shows that we are influenced by our environment.”
- “Avoid negative influences, like gloomy news reports or depressing conversations with friends,” says Judi James.
If you can’t avoid people who are always gloomy, then manage your time with them. Arrange to meet for a coffee, rather than lunch, and say in advance that you only have an hour.
- Do some exercise.
“Inertia makes us feel lower but any form of exercise can help your mood and your confidence pick up,” says Jessica Chivers.
“Being active is important, and walking is one of the best positive mood enhancers. It also means that you’re out in the fresh air, and can see trees and plants.”
Studies have shown that hospital patients who can see trees or can go out into the gardens have lower stress and pain levels. This can help boost their immune systems which can help them to heal.
What can you do to help deal with defeat calmly?
If you’ve had bad news, or been turned down for a job, what can you do to help deal with defeat calmly?
“Think rationally about what makes you feel good, and what you’re good at,” says Jessica Chivers. “Make a list of them, and remember how they make you feel.
“It’s like building up an emotional bank account. If you love baking get cooking and invite friends to share what you’ve made. The important thing is to immerse yourself in activities you’re competent at, to build your confidence up.”
Change your ‘state’, suggests Judi James. “Your physical state can have a strong effect on your mental one. Pull yourself up to your full height, roll your shoulders back and down, relax your facial expression. Wash your hair and change your outfit if it helps. Looking positive will help you to feel positive.”
Visit our Stress Centre for more information about stress or read our lifestyle articles which provide tips on stress proofing your life.
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