How do you correct negative thinking patterns and develop a positive attitude, especially if you’re a lifelong worrywart? A happy person with a positive attitude is easy to be around and they make others feel good. If you’re prone to imagining the worst or thinking things will never improve, your negative attitude may turn people off who can make your life better if you allowed it.
Meaning your negative thoughts become a self fulfilling prophecy.
You can reprogram yourself to look at life through a positive lens by taking a few simple steps; some of these guidelines will even improve your physical and emotional health.
“Closely associated with negativity is avoidance of change,” suggests Ken Yeager, director of the Stress, Trauma and Resilience (STAR) Program at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center. “People who dig in their heels to avoid change, frequently waste more energy avoiding change than they would learning something new or something different. To begin the change process, recognize one aspect of change that has a potential up-side for you.” From there you can become more open to positive thinking.
7 Ways To Free Yourself From Negative Thinking
1) Get Some Rays
Take a walk outdoors to get more fresh air and vitamin D. The sun’s rays supply us with vitamin D, which is necessary for calcium absorption. This vitamin does more than keep bones and teeth strong, though. Vitamin D aids in the release of serotonin and dopamine, neurotransmitters influencing mood and cognitive function.
Vitamin D deficiency may cause depression, according to many studies, and lack of sunshine exposure is all too common in today’s technology-driven world (not to mention that people have been programmed to fear the sun and put toxic sunscreen for supposed protection). Soaking up rays in the midday sun (without sunscreen) for just 10 minutes will give you 10,000 international units (IUs) of vitamin D.
2) Talk To A Good Friend About What’s Bugging You
Take the first step in positive thinking by texting a friend (or calling, if you’re old-school). Even exchanging quick messages with a friend will cheer you up when you’re stuck in a negative mood.
Other quick pick-me-ups include:
Cracking a smile may seem impossible when you’re in a bad mood, but even a weak smile will make you feel better and promote positive thinking. It takes fewer muscles to smile than to frown. Can’t fake a smile? Try watching a funny video or looking at some photos that stir happy memories.
Fill The Air With Pleasant Scents
Your sense of smell is connected to your brain’s emotional center. That’s why certain scents bring back childhood memories. The smell of pine has been shown to instill calm in people with jittery nerves. Vanilla incense (or a whiff of a vanilla latte) elevates your mood, and jasmine keeps you alert while relieving depression.
3) Express Gratitude
A positive attitude can be cultivated by being grateful for what you do have. Write a list of all the things you are grateful for, and you’ll realize that despite your burdens, you have a lot to be grateful for. Concentrate on the positive instead of the negative for a few minutes. If one part of your life is getting you down, e.g., your job, chances are you have plenty of positive experiences in other parts of your life to make up for it.
Recognize all of your achievements and think of your mistakes as learning experiences. Look for the silver lining in every situation. “One simple trick is to practice turning a negative into a positive,” Yeager recommends. “If you recognize yourself being negative, ask yourself what might be a positive aspect of whatever you think about. Once you get good at reframing the negative into a potential positive, practice noticing without judgment, and asking yourself why? This will lead to a greater level of curiosity.” Asking questions instead of allowing automatic thoughts to take over gives you more power over your life. “When the habit of negative turns into curiosity, the individual begins learning again,” Yeager adds. “New neural pathways begin to open in the brain, and the habit of seeking the negative slips away.”
If you find yourself drifting back into old, negative thought patterns, tell yourself to stop it. Imagine your negative thoughts as crumpled-up pieces of paper being thrown in the trash.
4) Keep A Journal
Journaling can help build a positive attitude. Write down your achievements for the day, even if it’s something as simple as washing the car or talking to a new neighbor. Writing about your thoughts and experiences helps you look at your life more realistically. Think about the good things that happen each day and focus on what you want in the future, instead of what you don’t want. Focus on love and success, not fear.
5) Eat Fresh, Healthy Foods
When you cut down on sugar and processed foods, you’ll think more clearly. A UCLA study showed eating junk food contributed to depression, stress, and cognitive decline. Replacing high-calorie, processed foods with fruits, vegetables, and home-cooked meals keeps you thinner and improves overall health to help build and maintain a positive attitude. The nutrients in whole, fresh foods do more than fight inflammation and give you energy, they also keep you emotionally balanced to reduce negative thoughts. Changing your diet changes your attitude by supplying you with more Omega 3 fatty acids, (salmon and avocados), magnesium (nuts, seeds and, vegetables), vitamin C (fruits and veggies) and other nutrients shown to put you in a better mood.
You can also find relief from depression and negative thinking in supplements derived from common spices. Saffron, a yellow spice made from the Crocus sativus flower and curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, were found to be as effective as generic Prozac in studies published in medical journals. Many companies offer mood-boosting saffron or curcumin supplement capsules. These supplements help build a positive attitude and reduce inflammation, which reasearch suggests can lead to depression.
6) Monitor Your Intake of Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12, like vitamin D, increases serotonin production to regulate your mood. A 2005 UK study recommended vitamin B12 and folate (vitamin B9) as natural remedies for depression. The researchers discovered a low rate of depression among people who ate a traditional Chinese diet rich in root vegetables, soy, and other foods containing folate. Foods high in vitamin B12 include cheese, salmon, sardines, yogurt, and milk.
7) Keep Moving!
Regular physical activity guards against heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses. Exercise also releases hormones called endorphins. These hormones trigger receptors in your brain to make you feel happy. Commonly referred to as “runner’s high,” this natural response to exercise acts as a sedative and reduces your perception of pain. More doctors are recommending exercise as a way to fight mild to moderate depression without drugs.
“Posture, movement, stretching, taking deep breaths, and remembering to breathe when stressed are all simple acts to improve negative responses,” says Yeager.
8) Get Enough Sleep
Stay rested to make sure you have enough energy to stay positive. Chill out at the end of the workday. “Protect prefrontal reserves by finding 30-90 minutes of downtime after your workday (yes, turn your brain off),” Yeager recommends. And “avoid blue light” from devices such as computers, television, and cell phones at least 30 minutes before sleep. Getting adequate rest can help reduce stress and adrenal fatigue too, which may add to depression and negative thinking.
Don’t Let Negative Thinking Interfere With Living A Full Life
By learning to recognize and overcome negative thoughts, you can live a happier and more productive life. Practice gratitude, take care of your body, and look for the silver lining to build a positive attitude.
Jade Blackmore is a freelance writer in Los Angeles. She specializes in health, nutrition and pets. Visit her blog, Daily Health and Nutrition Tips, here.
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