By Dr. Lindsay Henderson 4 minutes Lily
The last few years have been a whirlwind, and it’s not over yet. Not only are we now officially in the third year of the pandemic, but we are witnessing some disturbing global events unfolding before our eyes. While everyone is unique in how they deal with these difficult times, there are ways to try to cope with seemingly endless trauma.
Although it may seem like an insurmountable task, you would be surprised at the power of our own inner voices to combat negativity. Positive psychology can work wonders by helping us achieve our goals, lessen negative thoughts, and see our surroundings as potential upsides rather than mood deflators. This is particularly important as work and life become increasingly intertwined, leading to mental health issues in every aspect of our days. As Mental Health Awareness Month comes to an end, I’ve included some of my top tips on how to approach changing our mindset at home and at work.
Approach goals in a different way
Research suggests it takes about two months to form a habit. While it may seem like a long time to stay consistent, there are little tips and tricks we can use to stay on track.
Building micro-habits rather than attempting a new behavior for a significant time investment can help you maintain your new habits. Research also shows that people often make their goals too difficult — and that’s a major factor in why so many people give up so soon. Give yourself some grace when you think about your goals (which, by the way, you can absolutely recover at any time if you’ve gone wrong in the past!) and be realistic in your plans.
It is also important to identify the meaning of your goals if we want them to stick. For example, a common workplace goal is to show measurable success in a launch or long-term project. Expanding this goal to include the “why” – “I want to show why I deserve a promotion” – has meaning behind it and will help create actionable steps (like how best to stay organized and stay on track with this overview in mind). Connecting our goals to meaningful reasons for having them will allow us to find motivation for difficult tasks.
Finally, making sure our goals are measurable and tracking progress are essential steps in keeping a positive attitude. This allows us to recognize our progress towards goals and prove to ourselves that they are achievable. For extra motivation to stay on track and think positively about our goals for the year, find a responsible partner, whether in your family or group of friends, at your workplace, or even online. who will contact you periodically.
Think positive, be positive!
It may be a cliché, but consciously working to reframe your thoughts in a positive way can be great for our relationships, careers, and friendships. While it’s important to honor your feelings, whether good or bad, we also need to remember that “this too shall pass” and ruminating on negativity can only breed more negativity. Conversely, dwelling on things with a positive mindset can do wonders for your mood and bring to light the good in our lives.
Two practical ways to quickly switch to positive thinking are to volunteer and express gratitude on a daily basis. Studies show that volunteering can stimulate positive thinking and can serve as an outlet to help others, and daily gratitude will put the good in your life into perspective. Looking at the big picture, finding meaningful connections with others, writing down the good in your life, and honoring your feelings as tools for dealing with situations are great ways to approach daily gratitude and improve your global vision. Not only will these approaches help you at home, but they’ll help you arrive at the office (or your remote office) refreshed and ready to start the day.
Take a moment to center yourself
Everyone has times when they feel like they’re stuck on a project, and pairing that with the normal stressors (and occasional frustration) of the workplace can lead to an inability to focus on the task at hand. . These stressors are only exacerbated by the many negative world events happening around us and the potential mental health issues we face in our personal lives.
It can sometimes feel like we need to be productivity machines, but we need to give ourselves some slack. It is important for us to be patient with ourselves in times of stress and to be more mindful throughout the day. This can include blocking out time for lunch breaks or taking five minutes to center yourself with guided meditation to help reframe your mindset. It’s a common belief that we can’t take a break from work, but establishing self-care practices and taking a step back can do wonders for our ability to focus throughout the day. Remember that stress is part of normal life and serves an important purpose. By reframing feelings of stress to recognize that your body and mind are preparing for an important task ahead, and that our body’s stress response can be an advantage, you can actually be more focused, engaged, and confident.
Being positive doesn’t mean living in denial – although we all face incredibly difficult times, we change our outlook on the things that move us forward every day. Being realistic, approaching situations in a positive way from the outset, and giving ourselves some respite from the daily grind will help rework our thinking. However you approach your goals, remember to treat yourself with kindness.
Lindsay HendersonPsyD, is a clinical psychologist and director of psychological services for the telehealth platform Am fine. Previously, Dr. Henderson was a psychologist at McLean Hospital in the Boston area and a clinical instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.