Positivity is talked about a lot. Recently I was administering a survey for my team to see how they are coping with working from home for several months in light of the virus spread. One of the survey questions asked about stress management, and the most popular answer was “staying positive”. As great as it is, I am not sure what it means.
As a society, we value being positive. It is something that is encouraged, recommended and also used when no real ideas come to mind. There is a fine line between staying hopeful when all is lost and lying to yourself to be positive when it is actually time to act. But how do know when to stay positive, and how to actually do that?
When to stay positive
- When you already done everything possible. For example, if you are preparing for exam and you already read all the chapters, studied all the notes, understand and can teach the material back to others. This is when it is time to stop and just breathe instead of being anxious
- When you are reading news. Unless it is an actual disaster like nuclear power plant on the next street from you got bombed. I know, I know, I heard about coronavirus. However, what many of us forget is that most news providers are in entertainment business, even news broadcasts. Their primary focus is to get our attention. It often means exaggerating and only focusing on most dramatic news, picking the titles and images that will catch your attention. Unfortunately, people will more likely click on something that sounds scary or bizarre then on something that sounds positive and promising. I am not saying to stay ignorant. I am saying to focus on things that you can control or fix.
- When you have dependants. Whether it is your children, siblings, friends, parents or even pets, we all get energy and learn from each other. If you stay negative or overreact, you will impact others around you and will increase their stress levels. We all emotionally dependant on one another. Staying positive when it makes sense will teach your children (for example) that everything is figuratable.
- When you know you are doing a right thing, according to your own standards. If you can sleep well with the decision you have made – time to let go of worries because this decision reflects who you are and you are staying true to yourself.
When it is a bad idea to stay positive
- When you would rather stay positive then do the action you know you have to do. For example, if you lost your job and instead of looking for another job you tell yourself to stay positive because something will eventually work out. This is called lying to yourself.
- When you feel not right about your decision but trying to ignore the warning signs. It could be that you are in relationship that looks nice to others but you are not happy and you see nightmares where something bad happens between you and your partner. Definitely not the time to ignore your instincts and pretend everything is great.
- When you or someone you know needs help. Maybe something bad happened and you or this person needs to work this out, maybe even with a therapist. Skipping this step and being fake positive definitely not a healthy choice.
How to be or stay positive
- Read or watch something funny. If you are dealing with stress every day, dedicate at least 10 minutes and do it. When we laugh we relax and therefore let go of the tension created by stress.
- Drink water. Some people such as my husband get dehydrated but they do not feel it and it contributes to their stress levels.
- Check the temperature. It is easier to be stressed when you feel hot.
- Eat colourful fruits and vegetables. In fact, if your plate is colourful it naturally increases your mood.
- The scents that help me stay positive (that can be in perfume, essential oils or even included in your cream) are rose, citrus and lemongrass. I recently got a facial cleanser with lemongrass scent and it relaxes me every time I smell it.
- Physical activity, any activity. This one is obvious one so I won’t say more on that.
- Music. There is a lot of good music but Latin music makes wonders! You cannot listen to Latin songs and not want to dance or continue being in negative mood!
- Positive attitude. I know some people like affirmations but I think that if you feel good about yourself, feel good about your body, get enough sleep and feel awake, know what you stand for and what you contribute to your family, friends and the world, then you do not need affirmations. Because you are enough. Believe in yourself. Stand up straight. Your posture, the way you walk and how you hold your head will instantly give you confidence.
- Most things you can control and so you have power to change. Things you cannot control are not worth your stress because there is nothing you can do. Let it go and free yourself from responsibility that is not yours. If you focus on things you can control, it is in your power to do better and be a better version of yourself. Forgive yourself for the past mistakes and mentally move on. Do not let the past control your present.
- Write to yourself. Be your own best friend. If you are stressing out about something you cannot control, try writing about it. Explore your feelings, keep asking yourself questions such as “so what?”. Write a letter to yourself from the future. Whatever that worries you today, ask if this would matter a year from now. How about in five years? Most problems and limitations we create for ourselves are not real. We construct them based on our previous experiences. The best way to envision future is to create it.