Taking care of your health and well-being all starts with better thoughts
We are told to ‘Just think positive!’. But let’s face it. Things don’t always turn out the way we hope or expect. Some days are great, some not so much and sometimes we have those days where we wish we had stayed in bed.
Dealing with life’s challenges can be tricky, upsetting and sometimes extremely painful. But being told to look for the good in every bad situation is unhelpful because it’s unrealistic. It fails to acknowledge that our coping skills are grown through dealing with those not so wonderful times and acknowledging the associated emotions whether positive or negative that are appropriate to the situation.
That’s why positive thinking on its own doesn’t work because it’s normal to feel sad when a relationship breaks down or hurt if we overhear someone sharing an unkind comment about us. We have a natural negativity bias, which if let off its leash can rapidly undermine our ability to see things in a more positive light. What can help is to know how to veer towards realistic optimism, so as to be more stress resilient, less fazed by change and better placed to make the best decision in any given circumstance. Nurturing a growth oriented mindset leads to possibility thinking. It helps you to see the various options available to help you achieve your goals while diminishing the impact and fear of failure.
Better thinking begins by taking care of your health & wellbeing.
How you think about a given situation will be influenced by a number of factors; how tired you are, how distracted, stressed, hungry and your mood. If you’re worrying about someone who’s not well at home or you’re still angry about a conversation you had with your partner last night, it can be harder to maintain the best frame of mind and focus to help you determine ‘what should I do next?’. Our level of busyness can get in the way of our best intentions to take good care of our brains. Better thinking starts with putting in place those lifestyle practices relevant to your complete health and wellbeing; getting enough sleep, being sufficiently physically active, eating healthily and managing stress. This ensures your mental hardware is in good working order and positively oriented, so you can think more clearly and get the results you want.
HOW CAN YOU STAY MORE POSITIVE? 1. Refuel smart.
The latest evidence points to how excess sugar is a real downer, increasing our risk for depression. The typical Western diet is high in trans fats, salt and sugar and has been shown to contribute to a lower mood.
2. Keep moving.
Spending too much time sitting, means you’re missing out on the mood elevating benefits of physical activity that raise levels of our feel-good neuropeptides, dopamine, serotonin and endorphins.
3. Be curious.
‘Yes, I know’ is dangerous territory as it shuts off that natural desire to explore, keep asking questions or be open to changing your mind.
4. Be grateful.
It’s easy to get dragged down into the mire of negativity, catastrophising and negative self-talk. Practising an attitude of gratitude by keeping a gratitude journal for two weeks, has been shown to shift mindset towards the positive for up to three months.
5. Be still.
Taking time out for you isn’t selfish, it’s essential to your well being. Taking too much on, looking after everyone else may get you some brownie points towards sainthood if that’s what you seek, but does little to sustain or nurture your mind. So, book that holiday, take time off for a massage and plan to catch up with friends.
6. Rest and reflect.
The truth is that many of us are so chronically sleep deprived we’ve lost sight of just how tired we are. Sleep is essential to emotional regulation and elevating mood. Try the 2-week 20-minute challenge of going to bed twenty minutes earlier each night and see what difference that makes to your mood, energy levels and thinking.
7. Hang out with those who sustain you.
Unsurprisingly studies have shown that our closest relationships have the greatest influence on our state of mind and overall level of happiness. Staying in the positive not only helps you, it will positively contaminate others too, creating a more positive outlook readily available for everyone to flourish.
Dr Jenny Brockis is a Medical Practitioner and specialises in the science of high performance thinking. Jenny’s approach to overcoming life’s challenges is based on practical neuroscience which enables people to understand their thoughts and actions leading to effective behavioural change. Jenny is the author of ‘Future Brain - the 12 Keys to Create Your High-Performance Brain’ and may be contacted via her website.