Looking to lower stress and feel happier at work? Samantha Tollin explains how conscious positive thinking will help you get there today
CREDIT: This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared on Career Contessa
Dealing with difficult times, whether it’s an illness, the loss of someone you love, working at a job you hate, or any number of situations – can be tough. We all have days where it feels like life has successfully conquered us – that’s a part of life – but did you know that, by making simple changes to your attitude, you can greatly improve your outlook on life, no matter the circumstance? It may seem easier than it sounds but, in reality, there are a plethora of ways you can brighten your day without lifting a finger.
Like many others, I have struggled with only seeing the glass half empty in life. In nearly every situation, my mind could only think of the worst-case scenario which, of course, never worked out in my favour. I began to realise how much of an impact this kind of thinking had on my physical and mental health. Thinking negatively dropped my energy levels, raised my stress levels, made me sleep terribly and feel sluggish. Life is short — so why was I constantly adding all that extra stress I didn’t need?
I did some research on stress-relieving techniques and found lots of articles about positive thinking and the power of living in the present. It’s an interesting concept to me because I have always been concerned about changing the past, or worrying about what will happen in the future — two things completely outside of my control — but I was never able to appreciate the ‘now’.
And it made sense — the present moment is the only thing any of us have any control over. I decided I’d give it a try. I researched small ways to make a positive impact on my thinking, and told myself that it would take time to condition my mind. However, by working to become more present, moment by moment, day by day, I have come one step closer to achieving internal enlightenment. Or, to put in layman’s terms, I feel pretty happy.
Since I’ve begun changing my thinking my outlook on life has changed greatly. Sometimes, just taking a few deep breaths is enough to calm my mind and help me to remember where and who I am right now.
Here are a few of the actionable steps I’ve learned that you can use to incorporate more positivity and presence in your every day.
Stop and smell the roses
Taking a few moments out of your day to appreciate your surroundings can greatly impact your thinking and behaviour. This will especially come in handy if you are in a stressful situation and need to pause. I find that sitting upright in a chair with my feet planted on the floor and taking a few deep breaths is the key to a mental recharge. Try it!
Don’t let your mind define who you are
Our minds are powerful tools; often, we don’t realise how much power our minds have over our bodies – and we forget that we have the power to change our thoughts and change our actions. Understand that, just because you have negative thoughts, you have to listen to them. When you notice negative thinking remind yourself that these are just thoughts and they have no control over your feelings or your actions.
Set small goals
Try setting a few small goals that you absolutely know you can accomplish. This will train your mind to realise that it’s okay to start small and work your way up — and it will give you a sense of accomplishment when you’re able to reach the goals you’ve set! For example, if you are planning on running a half-marathon – but haven’t put on your running shoes in months – set small, measurable goals such as putting workout clothes beside your bed, or going for a walk around the block, for yourself which will allow you to build stamina slowly.
Sometimes just telling yourself you can do something, or giving yourself a simple compliment, can easily brighten your day. Write down a few self-affirmations to tell yourself at the end of each day as reminders that you are a uniquely special person. Here are a few examples (and the ones I enjoy most):
- I am happy and safe.
- Don’t panic, everything will be okay.
- I am courageous.
- Follow your intuition.
- I believe in myself.
Whether you are a naturally negative thinker, or just want to work on living more in the ‘now’, take some time to think about small changes you can make to your life – and to your thinking – to achieve personal growth and general happiness.