Tips for Staying Positive When Things Get Tough

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Life doesn’t care whether you’re having a good time or not. It’s going to keep ebbing and flowing either way. We all have bad moments, days, or even years. Positivity is a choice you have to practice making. We all know the clichés that are supposed to get us through dark times. “This too shall pass”. “It’s always darkest before the dawn.” “The sun will come out tomorrow.” All of these are clichés because they’re true, but it’s not really practical advice.

Read on for some practical ways to practice positivity during tough times.

• Drop the Victim Identity
When something bad happens, it’s easy to fall into the feeling of being victimized by circumstances or another person. You may feel powerless, or like the world is against you.

Playing the victim will further prolong negative feelings and may deter others from helping. The common denominator in life’s ups and downs is always you. Psychology Today recommends overcoming victimhood by taking responsibility for and owning your wants and needs. Many times disappointment stems from unrealistic expectations. Recognize that everything isn’t going to go your way all the time, and be prepared to roll with the punches.

• Practice Mindful Meditation
Whatever you want to call it: self-reflection, prayer, mindfulness–meditation is a free and efficient way to press pause on negative thinking. Research shows that mindfulness and meditation can reduce depression and pain, and boost emotional well-being. To get started, check out our article on the Benefits Of Mindful Meditation For Older Adults.

• Take Care of Your Body
When we’re bummed, it’s easy to sink into the couch with a bag full of Cheetos for a marathon binge session, but that’s not going to help the situation. Don’t get us wrong, rest is important. In addition to making sure you’re getting enough sleep, eat nourishing foods and move your body.

• Adjust Your Focus
When you feel overwhelmed, try focusing on what is immediately around you. When you’re focused on the present, you can’t worry about the future or dwell on the past. (There’s no point in worrying over what you’re not in charge of, anyway.) You can also use your body’s built-in sensors to cheer yourself up. Listen to your favorite album, watch a funny movie, light a scented candle, eat some chocolate, or hug someone.

• Develop a Gratitude Attitude
Being grateful during tough times is easier said than done, however, it is important. Negativity begets negativity. It’s a vicious cycle. Gratitude promotes optimism and helps us to develop a more positive outlook. What’s going well for you? Sometimes the silver lining is more of a dull gray, but at the very least, you can be grateful that things aren’t worse than they already are. Change your thoughts, and your life will follow.

• Help Someone Else
When you’re feeling sorry for yourself, do something for someone else. Not only will altruism help put your problems in perspective, but helping others will, in turn, improve your mood.

• Guard Your Mind
Garbage in = Garbage out. Are you hanging out with negative people, comparing yourself to others, or filling your head with negative news? It’s time for that old adage of letting go of that which no longer serves you. Perhaps this means deleting social media from your phone, turning off the TV, or choosing not to spend time with Negative Nancy. Replace the garbage with something edifying, like an uplifting podcast.

• Step Outside of the Situation
Take yourself out of the situation and pretend it’s happening to a friend instead. What advice would you give them? You wouldn’t blame them, belittle them, or call them names. So, do yourself the same kindness. Practice turning negative self-talk into positive re-enforcement. It might help to pretend like you’re talking to a younger you. You wouldn’t be mean to a little kid, you’d encourage and support them. Be sweet to yourself.

• Do Something You Love
Whether it’s an old hobby or a new activity, keeping yourself busy keeps your mind off of, well, yourself. For instance, when you’re learning to play the ukulele, it’s hard to think of anything else besides the next note. Immersing yourself in a good book can distract you from problems that aren’t going anywhere any time soon. You get the idea. If you need a new stress-free hobby, check out these ideas.


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