Staying positive in tough times

It can be a challenge to stay positive when times get tough, but being able to recognise how to process any situation with a clear mind and remain optimistic has so many worthwhile benefits.

It’s not all that hard to start thinking with a glass half-full mentality once you know how to do it. There are a few ways you can teach yourself to stress less often if you take different approaches to how you process everyday events. It’s important to acknowledge the things in your life that you are grateful for so you can turn to them when you do start to be consumed by a negative turn of events.

For me personally, it’s the little things. Taking a walk on the beach, sitting down for ten minutes with a coffee for a breather, or spending a little bit of quality time with friends and family. These are small things that I know I can always count on to cheer me up, which help me to ground myself when I don’t feel so positive.

Being optimistic does not always come easy, especially when it seems there are no positives to a situation. It’s always worthwhile to put aside some time to process thoughts and emotions properly, rather than pushing them away or accepting them as far more negative than they actually are. It’s funny how our brain tends to take thoughts and instantly think the worst when the reality is far less bleak than it seems. Self-reflection is a great way to pause and reevaluate how you can approach things differently.

Meditation is something that we’ve all heard is good for the soul, and it works tremendously well as a way to find the balance in your mind and body when negative thoughts arise. Sitting down and finding what works for you – whether it's silence and letting go of everything weighing you down, or listening to a guided meditation before you go to sleep – is a fantastic option when things seem to be dragging in your life. This is about checking yourself and learning to let go before a small negative thought erupts into a stressful event that you can’t seem to shake.

Checking yourself and how you are interpreting things is also a good first step into shaping your lifestyle into something more optimistic. Each time something bothers you, spend a moment to process it properly and decide whether it is worth worrying about. Ask yourself whether it will matter in a week. If not, there is no need to spend more than a few minutes fretting over small issues. The same goes for minor things going lopsided in your day that can easily turn into a bad mood which continues longer than necessary. If you learn to accept bad moments as merely just moments, it becomes a lot easier to switch up your mood so you aren’t left in a funk because of small mishaps. Of course, it’s easier said than done, but picking up on these patterns and being aware of how you deal with them is the gateway to positive thinking throughout all aspects of life.

Support systems are just as important as self-reflection, as they help relieve burdens of stress just as much as processing things by yourself. Getting comfortable with sharing your thoughts and emotions with the people around you can be so rewarding, and helps to alleviate some of the unnecessary worries that build on us so heavily. Confiding in those who you trust and who you know care for you is not a bad thing. Some people struggle to tell others what is bothering them when they start feeling the pressure, and believe it’s unfair to pour their concerns onto someone else. This fear is common but usually not helpful, as support systems are there to listen when things aren’t going so well. Most of the time just talking about a situation with someone else can make it feel less overwhelming. Make it clear to whoever you’re talking to that you don’t expect them to solve your problems, but rather to just be a listening ear as you rant away some of the tension.

Aside from all of these tips, maintaining a relatively healthy lifestyle and looking after yourself and your overall wellbeing are important when it comes to remaining optimistic. Getting regular exercise and fueling your body well are basic stepping stones to changing a negative mindset. Making an effort to keep all four areas of your wellbeing strong – physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual – goes hand in hand with positive thinking. You’re more likely to think positively when your overall wellbeing is looked after, and you’re more likely to have a strong wellbeing when you put positive thinking into practice.

Learning to be a bit more optimistic and approach situations with a positive mind is a step-by-step process but definitely worth it to combat stress and negative thinking!