One of the most important things I have learned over the past eight weeks of blog writing is that I must try and think more positively about things (as hard as that can be at times). Actively thinking positively/consciously looking for the positives in things, even in your darkest hours, without doubt helps life feel a little less daunting and dark – It helps in stopping your worrying about the unnecessary things that so often engulf our head-space. Such an easy thing to say, right? How do you actually start this more positive journey, when you are so used to seeing the things from the other side, the darker side…
Well, first of all… remove the toxic surroundings from your life. I’m a huge believer in that we are all products of our environment, the things (and the people) around you affect how and what you think and the way in which you breakdown information/choose to see things. This in turn, has a big impact on the way you feel on a day-to-day basis. I am conscious that my worst habit is comparing myself to other girls on Instagram, so I set myself a task with my therapist to block/unfollow anything that makes me anxious or down so I physically cannot see it anymore and as hard as it has been at times to disconnect from this daily routine, I promise you that it is helping.
Secondly, mindfulness. Mindfulness is a beautiful thing and something I have tried using a lot on my journey. It’s basically another word for meditation and a lot of therapists recommend using mindfulness as a way to bring you back ‘into the moment’. A lot of our negative thoughts and ideations are either based on the past (which we cannot change!) or on our negative perceptions on what we assume the future will hold (which we do not know!). Both of these perspectives are equally pointless and unhelpful, they simply distract us from the present. Exploring mindfulness to combat these thoughts can help bring you back into the here and now and redirect your attention to where it needs to be.
I remember so clearly when I explored Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) within my sessions. I found this to be such a great tool because it can be used in any situation at any time and no one realizes you are doing it. The theory behind it is that when we get stressed, our muscles tense up and PMR helps you notice when you are stressed and allows your internal alarms to fire up and alert you. It helps you concentrate on your present situation so that your thoughts are channeled in the right way. To execute Positive Muscle Relaxation, you start from the top of your body work your way down, tensing and relaxing each muscle group on your way south – I would highly recommend you research the theories!
In addition, be aware that so much of your mindfulness is based around your breathing. When you’re within your panic attack or within a high pressure situation, your breathing will become erratic and this will impact on your ability to think clearly and rationally (it is important you understand this now, when you are level). In these moments, do what you can to direct your entire focus onto your breathing. Inhale in for five seconds, exhale for eight. Slow down the situation, slowly but surely you’ll regain control.
Thirdly, when you are within that darkness, discover the silver lining – It is always there, you simply need to look hard enough for it… what is helpful about this moment?
The differences between a pessimist and an optimist are stark. Predominantly, the difference is in the way that they perceive the obstacles in front of them. I know I am not the only one who organically sees the immediate negative side of these obstacles. If you allow this instinctive response to navigate your headspace, you will be clouded with pessimistic thoughts about, well, everything and in turn, you will torture yourself over things that are not important and often entirely out of your control (trust me, I know).
When you find yourself in a situation that challenges your natural way of thinking, try and consciously think smart, find the positive, do what you can to see the strength. It is always there and should you find it, it will only help you grow.
This is Scotty’s biggest influence on me. He is the most optimistic person I have ever met and his positivity counteracts my pessimism. We balance each other out and we complement each other so well. Everybody has that support network out there, if you haven’t found yours yet then keep the faith, with your new positive approach… you will find it soon.
The next thing… let’s hit the physical side. Working out!
The science suggests that working out releases endorphins, the chemical that makes you feel happier and more energetic. When your body cannot release the chemicals required to be ‘happy’, we feel depressed and often anxious (it’s chemical, and so often out of our control). That said, we can help ourselves. Anti-depressants are certainly a way to help in the short-term and the substance certainly helps to address the correct chemical balance that will realign your headspace. That said, if you want something natural and effective almost instantly, I strongly suggest doing a workout. Not only does it release endorphins that drive north your mood but it takes your mind away from those worries and brings your mind back to the present, as it focuses on the short-term physical challenges ahead (as oppose to the spiral of other topics you could be engaging within).
If you keep those negative thoughts to yourself, they will eventually engulf you. It is so important that you are vocal with your insecurities. It is the 21st century, you’re not alone anymore.
Venting and ranting for a little while helps offload the emotion and allows you to then approach the situation from a more objective/rational perspective. Often enough, you will find a level that works – Their perspective, as the outsider looking in, is incredibly important and often more rational/honest than your internal perception of yourself.
I often keep my negative thoughts to myself. Before I know it, they’ve built up to the extent where I find myself in a position of hopelessness and insecurity. My blogging has become the most important self-heal tool I have to hand. It’s helping me remain stable and balanced, more importantly I have an overwhelming feel that I am helping others which is what I set out to do when I first started to speak out.
I never would have thought I would receive the positive feedback I have and I will be forever grateful for the people I have around me. You keep me positive. The world is changing, the world is understanding, we are the lucky ones that get to run that journey.
Roald Dahl once said… “If you have good thoughts, they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.” (ah, the Twits! What a great book).
That is my quote for this week and I absolutely stand beside it. Try your best to have good thoughts today! You make your own luck, and a positive outlook on life will bring positive end results.