Happy February! As January is officially over I thought it was about time I kicked the blues into touch and started to think down the positive road. Recently, I've been feeling really fed up, sluggish and unmotivated. I could easily stay in bed all day and sleep away my worries but that's not going to solve anything so I need to get the hang of provoking myself. It's so easy to get stuck in a rut, especially at the start of the year when all the thoughts of exciting things ahead are over and done with and you're back to reality. The grey mornings, the dark, cold nights, the laying awake at night replaying all bad moments, analysing all your racing thoughts, picking at your imperfections, considering the future and dwelling on a situation that shouldn't affect your mood. There's many of times I've chosen the negative option when a trigger occurs, only to give myself a shake and realise I'm not doing myself any favours and frowning is not going to bring my smile back any quicker. Negative thoughts can be dangerous to your everyday life; whether that be the enjoyment you get out of it, your self esteem, self worth, your all round energy and enthusiasm. The pain it brings is not pretty or helpful and only continues into a vicious cycle. Of course, anxiety and depression are serious problems which can cripple you completely which is why it's important to deal with your issues appropriately before they get out of control but for someone who, like me, tends to instantly contemplate the unpleasant conclusions instead of changing the thinking pattern and rewinding to an additional beneficial story, then I think these tips which I have developed over time (from personal experience only) would be of good use. Let me know what you think!
Have a place you can reflect on your gratitude.
Keeping a journal, a memory box, or even a yearly observation are three of many ways you can express and hold on to the things that make you happy and bring out that inner optimistic mindset. Since the new year I have been learning to look on the brighter side of life with my DIY decorated 2015 jar. Every time something nice happens, no matter how big or small, I'll write it on a piece of paper and pop it in there. It's a great way to remind yourself of what you have, to notice the little events that capture the meaning of life and is lovely to look back on when you're feeling under the weather, when you need a pick me up or even to see how far your positive to negative ratio has expanded. Constantly noting anything that pops up allows you to continue onwards and upwards. That trip away you've just booked? That new shirt you've bought which looks amazing on you? That certain favourite food that always makes you feel better? The events you have to look forward to? Something/someone that makes you feel alive? Write it down, it's guaranteed to open up your mind and keep you on board. Another concept I constantly rely on is positive quotes. The sometimes over the top cringe statements aren't everyone's cup of tea, I know (usually they aren't mine either), but the ones that really get your brain ticking are welcome with open arms. Placing them in your home, on your decor, or even on post it notes on your everyday objects; every little reminder helps!
Get rid of the negativity.
There comes a time in life when you have to think about yourself and what is beneficial to you. No matter whether someone's a relative, a friend, a romantic interest, an employer, your next door neighbour; if they make you feel shitty, remove the toxicity and don't feel guilty about doing so. If a person disregards your feelings, ignores your boundaries, has no intention of ever caring about what makes you happy and continues to treat you harmfully, it's time to let go. There's no room for people who cause you pain, make you feel small, try to rule you and feed you their negativity. As the saying goes (here I am with the quotes) 'surround yourself with dreamers and the doers, the believers and the thinkers, but most of all surround yourself with those who see greatness within you, even when you don't see it yourself', it's important to surround yourself with positive people and those who put your life into perspective. The same goes for the surroundings and activities that take place in your life. If something makes you uncomfortable, if a situation is unpleasant, step away. You'll notice the more you identify what does and does not make you feel optimistic, the more positive you will think and more joyful you will become.
Go easy on yourself.
Everybody makes mistakes and slips up once in their life. Don't be too hard on yourself, it's all about embracing those flaws. It's what makes you, you, what builds up your character and allows you to flow. There's some things in life that can't be changed or reversed, those individual traits are a part of you and the longer you allow yourself to accept that, the more composed you'll be. Admittedly, this is the one thing I find the most difficult but practicing your self-love is one of the biggest contributing factors to staying positive. It's so easy to forget how much you've achieved when the over inspected negative parts of yourself are all you believe in. Focusing on your strengths and the tough missions you've already completed is a step forward. You have to try and be aware of your own potential, pointing out your qualities, and recognising, taking advantage and celebrating when something is accomplished to standard as it's almost always blind for you to see how well you're actually doing. It's funny how, when you're in that frame of mind, it's plain sailing to pick out and think harsh thoughts about your personality and actions than it would be to select some positive attributes. Turning this around and making a mental (or even physical) list and concentrating on an individual point that you do like about yourself and what stands out specifically to you is healthy. Treating yourself to some me time and taking breaks will maintain a tranquil and calm vibe. Also, don't get down on yourself if you are feeling blue. Everyone needs time to reflect. Everyone has dreams and capabilities; the world is your oyster, use that as a main prompt.
Change your tone.
This one's simple. I learnt this through all my therapy sessions when times were tough and I do still often go back and run over the methods that were taught. You sometimes have to rearrange the way you think. For example, saying in your head 'I'm not going to succeed in my upcoming events' is a hell of a lot different to telling yourself 'I may face some difficulties but it's nothing that I won't get through. I've done it before, I'll do it again. I believe in myself'. Turning that full on, fierce thought into one that drifts soothingly eases you into relaxation and relief. I often sit and tick off all the shameful elements one by one but then think to myself "actually, stop being sour. Thinking like that is bringing in more anxiety and negativity. I'm better than that." Constantly nagging at yourself is a demon created within and it's something you can really do without.
Doing something good for your loved ones, the community or even a stranger brings lots of joy and thankfulness. It makes you feel better about yourself and is an open instruction to praise your actions instead of crushing them. It even distracts you from the pessimistic views you constantly go over and over. Having your mind focused on something specific is valuable and can often mean you distract yourself. If you're enjoying what you're doing and guiding someone else into positivity, that's a double whammy. Those deeds, whether they're big or small, do help you feel better about the steps you're taking.
Do you have any tips to add? If you are feeling down, bear these in mind and think of the ways you can improve. It's hard to listen to your own advice but it's also rubbish when you're listening to your inner devil.
P.S. If you really need something to cheer you up, think about this; it's February now which is a short month and which will zoom by, then it will be March, Easter time and the lighter nights will arise. We've had hot Marches before, so don't rule out the ditching of the over worn layers and the warm, sunny days (see what I mean about the positive thinking?!)