We’re living in tough and unprecedented times. Every day is a new wave of disappointing and at times, less than positive updates from around the globe. Most of us are confined in our houses, trying our best to curb the spread of COVID-19 from the inside, while others such as doctors, nurses and essential workers are making sure to stop the spread outside.
Being within the same four walls is bound to take a toll on our mental health. Staying with the same people 24/7 can get a little bit taxing after a while, even when they’re our family members. It is natural for our thought process to descend, because, let’s face it — there’s not a lot of good news happening that can make us feel better.
Our mental health is suffering. But it need not become a drastic problem for us if we learn how to tackle the negative thoughts correctly. Every person has a different way of approaching and dealing their thoughts, but in the case of positive thinking, it really does come down to the basics.
Let’s read more about how we can actually practice positive thinking and pick a way that best suits you:-
Negative thoughts are not the enemy
It is a very important distinction that most people often overlook. When you find yourself surrounded by negative thoughts, it’s a way of your mind telling you to deal with something you’re probably ignoring. We often fear and ignore such thoughts, but that does us more harm than good.
The best way to tackle negative thoughts is to welcome them and “sit” with them. Listen to what they have to say. Think of them as a hysterical child who will eventually calm down once they throw out a tantrum. Your negative thoughts may be trying to show you a problem you don’t know you’re dealing with. If you allow yourself to introspect with the help of negative thoughts, you will bring yourself one step closer to turning them into positive ones.
Not all your thoughts are true
Your mind may trick you into thinking that every thought you have is something that is actually a problem. Good news: it’s not. We have thousands of thoughts every day and only a handful of them are the ones highlighting a real problem; the rest of them is just your imagination running wild. Learn to pace yourself and identify which thoughts are real and affect you, so you can work on bettering them.
Play a game with your thoughts
It’s a simple trick to practice. Every time you find yourself thinking negatively, try to end the same thought on a positive note. For example if your thought is “Oh no, they’ve extended the lockdown once again because the number of cases are rising”, try to change it into a slightly positive thought by ending it with “This must be a good step to prevent a bigger spike in the number. Staying home is the very least I can do as a responsible citizen.”
The trick is to reduce the stress on your brain by giving your thoughts a positive, or at least a neutral endnote. The less negativity the brain has to feed on, the less thoughts it can build up.
If you won’t do it to a friend, you shouldn’t do it to yourself
If you’re going to live inside your head for most of your life, make sure it’s a nice place to live in. Don’t beat yourself up when you find yourself in a bad or negative headspace. We often set up very high standards for ourselves and emotionally destroy ourselves if we fail to reach them.
How do you recognise if you’re being too harsh on yourself? Imagine your friend is having a bad time and can’t escape their thoughts. What can you do for them? Would you provide an ear for their problems so they can vent and feel better, or do you ignore, suppress, belittle or tell them to get over it? Obviously, we’d do the former because we love our friends and want the best for them.
That’s all you need to remember when dealing with your own negative thoughts. Don’t do or say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to a grieving friend. Treating your mind with kindness will automatically allow it to process its thoughts in a better way.
Talk it out
One of the best ways to banish negative thoughts is to speak them out loud and lose them from inside your mind. In times like these, make sure you are reaching out to your family members and close friends and remind them that they can trust their thoughts with you. Sharing your thoughts can lead to discussions, and these discussions may lead to a possible solution at times.
Sometimes it’s difficult to talk even to the people closest to us. But since we are living in the age of social media, there are many options available for us to vent. The more we lay down our negative thoughts, the less power they have on you in the future.
Counter attack your negative thoughts
When you get tired of defending yourself or befriending your negative thoughts, you can move on to attack them. The easiest and strongest way to do so is by meditation. Close your eyes and imagine yourself on a cliff with nothing but light surrounding you. It will be difficult to empty your mind the first few times, but you will eventually get a hang of it. After the end of a session, the negative thoughts will be significantly weaker.
More attacks include: deep cleaning out the entire house or cooking a good meal or choreographing a dance act for yourself. This will ensure that you lose your track of thoughts by engaging in fruitful activities.
Try writing down affirmations for the day
You can do this when you wake up or before you go to sleep. Writing down (or speaking out) affirmations repeatedly will help you bring your mind back on track with better, more positive thoughts. Some good examples of affirmations during this time would be:
- I am healthy and full of energy
- I am so happy and grateful for the life I have
- I am doing the best I can
- I accept the fact that some things are beyond my control
- I am grateful for being safe with my family
Affirmations help soothe down your mind when it’s turbulent and agitated. Repeating words or comfort and support to yourself whenever you need them is a good way to stay positive.
At the very least, aim for neutral
It is not possible for us to be positive all the time. Sometimes the negative thoughts are too strong to be turned positive. Sometimes we don’t feel like putting in the effort it takes to look at the bright sides. And hey, that’s okay. Especially when the future is hazy and everything is uncertain. When being positive seems downright impossible or harder, try to aim for neutral thoughts.
Yes, neutral. You don’t have to smile and laugh and be at peace every single minute of every single day. Sometimes, it’s enough to just be neutral. The aim is to reduce the burden of negative thoughts, and thinking neutrally about a problem will help in that process. Think of neutral thoughts as a participation certificate — it’s sad that you didn’t win, but at least you didn’t lose. Sometimes it’s enough to just give it a try.
Positive thinking is like a muscle. You have to use it a little every day to make it stronger. But remember that positive thinking is not the opposite of negative thinking. Not all negative thoughts are bad and not all positive thoughts are possible to achieve. We should aim for better thoughts so that we don’t exhaust our mind with darkness and futile imagination.
Go ahead and choose from one of our tricks to think positively, or better yet, come up with one of your own unique ways!