Making the active choice to think positively can affect your entire life. Thinking positively can lead to positive emotions which are associated with better overall health and life satisfaction. Below are some ways you can use thinking positively each day and start improving your well-being!

 

Notice Everyday Pleasures 

Too often we go through our days without recognizing the little pleasures throughout it. Take time to enjoy your morning cup of coffee. Notice the things that you look forward to each day.

Decide to Have a Good Day

Once you recognize the little things you look forward to each day, make them your focus when you wake up. Wake up deciding that this is a great day. Each day is a gift and gives you the opportunity to advance in your goals and successes.

Be Thankful 

Notice the things that you are lucky to have. Make a list of those things and take time to appreciate what you have. You will be much happier focusing on all the great things in your life, rather than all of the things you think are missing.

Never Compare

Never compare your life to the lives of others. Think of your life as a movie. You are the star of your own movie. You only see the trailer for everyone else’s movie. Everyone portrays their life differently than it actually is and you will never see all of the scenes. Focus on your own role.

Don’t Multitask 

Multitasking takes away from your ability to be mindful. Focus on one thing at a time. If you are reading while you eat, you aren’t fully enjoying your meal. Take time to savor the little things in life.

 

 

Post Inspired by Positive Psychologya Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School

 

Link here: https://www.health.harvard.edu/promotions/harvard-health-publications/positive-psychology-harnessing-the-power-of-happiness-mindfulness-and-personal-strength?utm_source=HEALTHbeat&utm_medium=email&utm_content=body1a&utm_campaign=HB100815D  

As Fall makes its way back around, it brings all of those fun Fall activities with it. Pumpkin/apple picking, sports games, holiday preparations, etc. This time of year is fun and festive, but it is important to have set boundaries for yourself. It is possible to become overwhelmed by back-to-school nights, trick-or-treating festivities, your child’s sports games every weekend, football viewing parties, PTA meetings, carpools, work responsibilities, and not to mention planning/ shopping for the upcoming holidays. Here are some ideas on how to keep yourself from being run down this Fall season.

1. Notice How Much You Are Committing To

How busy is work for you in the next few months? Can you handle snack prep for your child’s sports team each week on top of work responsibilities? How many football viewing parties are you hosting? It is wonderful to say yes to things that help others and enrich your life. Sometimes we find it hard to say no when favors are asked of us. Be realistic about what you can handle. If you are traveling for work this month, maybe give yourself a break from carpool for those weekend sports games. Try writing down a list of everything you commit to each month. If you feel overwhelmed looking at the list, chances are you signed up for more responsibilities than you would like. Decide how many items you would like the list to be and make it a priority to stick to that number next month.

2. Keep Self-Care in Mind

The importance of self-care cannot be stressed enough, especially if you are a parent. Are you getting in the amount of workouts you would like to each week? What is preventing you from doing so? Make a list of personal goals that you have for yourself. Can you work on these goals with the things you have scheduled for the next few months of Fall? Always make yourself a priority. You will find that you have a much more giving and generous spirit when you feel confident from reaching your goals.

3. Focus on Fun

Whatever commitments you are signing yourself up for this season, make sure they are ones that you enjoy! Whether it’s being a parent chaperone on the school field trip to the pumpkin patch or signing up to be an assistant football coach, make sure you are participating things that you feel personal gain from. It will make the busy season much more manageable and provide you with some fun memories along the way.

Cleanses have become increasingly popular. From juice cleanses to tea detoxes, they all promise to help us lose weight, clear our skin, and essentially make us more beautiful all over. The jury is still out on the benefits and harms of these detoxes, but let’s be honest with ourselves- there is no quick fix to our problems. Self-improvement takes time and dedication. The real way to cleanse is to cleanse our habits.

Of course this means considering your eating habits and physical exercise routine, but it also means looking at your mental habits. Cut out self-doubt, comparing yourself to others, negative self- talk, focusing on pleasing others more than yourself, and worrying about what others think. Replace those sorts of thoughts with positive self- talk and remembering all that you have accomplished.

Cleansing your thinking patterns is going to benefit you far more in the long run than any sort of juice/tea/pill/smoothie cleanse. Besides, drinking juice for 3 days straight is a mental challenge in itself. Why not use that same amount of brain power to focus on cleansing your mind instead of just your body?

Everyone has times in their life that feel more difficult than others. We all have times we feel grief, sadness, and stress. When is the right time to seek professional help? Below are some signs that you would benefit from seeing a therapist, social worker, or psychologist.

Your Feelings Hold You Back

If you experience emotions that lead to you missing out on opportunities in life, you would benefit from speaking to a professional. This can be anxiety over social situations or high pressure situations like job interviews. Speaking to a professional could help you learn to control those fears and take charge of your life.

Experiencing Intense Emotions Frequently

Do you feel overcome by sadness or anger frequently? Do you assume the worst? This is something you can learn to control with guidance from a professional. A professional can teach you how to guide your thoughts to be more positive and prevent panic attacks.

Your Gaining or Losing Weight Without Trying

Depression can cause an increase or decrease in your appetite. Take note of whether you are eating emotionally or out of hunger. Are you eating to avoid something else? Or have you lost all interest in eating? If your change in appetite is accompanied by a loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy, sadness, guilt, changes in sleep, weight-loss or weight-gain, seek guidance.

You have Experienced A Traumatic Event

It is normal to feel depressed after experiencing something like the loss of a loved one, a bad break up, loss of a job, abuse, etc. If you can’t stop thinking about the event and it is affecting your day to day activities, it is a good idea to speak with a professional. Counseling can help you move past the traumatic event.

People Close to You Have Expressed Concern 

Others noticing a change in your mood and behavior is a sign that something is amiss. Therapy can help you understand how your experiences and surroundings are affecting you and how to be your happiest self regardless.

If Your Feel Like You Want to Talk to Someone

If you are feeling overwhelmed by life circumstances and want to talk to a professional, go do it! Nothing but good can come from counseling/therapy. It will help you understand your emotions and learn to control how they affect your life. You don’t need to have a mental illness to go to therapy. Therapy is similar to exercise, it is used to improve your health and mood. You can use it to improve your life at any point and any emotional state.

Often we forget something really important that affects our day to day lives- how we perceive and react to all situations is within our control. This directly impacts how we live our lives day to day.

Traffic jam on the way to work? Look at it as time to listen to music or a book on tape or meditate and collect your thoughts. See it as time to yourself. You can’t control the traffic, but you can control how you react to it.

This is related to our fitness success. Do you see working out as a chore? If it seems like something you have to do, rather than something you enjoy doing, any exercise plan is going to be hard to stick to.

In a study by Werle and colleagues, participants were asked to go on a walk around a college campus. Some men and women were told to take a scenic walk, while the others were told to take a walk for exercise. The group that was told to go on a walk for exercise ended up eating more high calorie desserts afterwards. This suggests that compensatory eating may be related to how exercise is perceived. Both groups walked the same amount, but the men and women who walked for the purpose of exercise felt that they deserved a treat afterwards for their hard work. If they had seen the walk as an enjoyable activity, they may not have felt the desire to consume the high calorie dessert options.

Try to change your mindset by linking exercise to things that are important to you. Maybe you focus on exercising to elevate your mood, keep up with your kids/grandkids, or have the mobility to travel and explore new places. Whatever is important to you, link it to exercising.

This is a life lesson for life in general. Remember that even if you can’t control the situation, you can control how you perceive it.

“Life is 10% what you make it and 90% how you take it.”- Irving Berlin

Have you ever heard someone say “I know you better than you know yourself” and wondered if it could be true? Sometimes outsiders can point out bits of ourselves we have never noticed, but keep in mind that everyone has blind spots. There are things we don’t see in ourselves, but there are also things that others can’t see in us. Others can’t fully understand the reasoning behind your actions because they are not witness to your thought process. There is also the possibility that they could be projecting their own traits on to you.

Projection is a common defense mechanism that people use when they don’t want to accept a part of themselves. For example, if someone is normally rude to others they may project this trait by claiming others are always rude to them. It is important to recognize the difference between negative traits that you hold versus negative traits others may be projecting on to you.

This all directly applies to how we approach goal setting. So often we let others crowd in on our journey. We talk about our goals and others have their input. It is important to remember that sometimes a fresh perspective is valuable, but ultimately you must trust yourself. We have all had times where we let others influence a path we were on simply by stating their views of us. Don’t let the views of others alter decisions you have confidently made. Choose to bet on the path you have laid out for yourself. Whether it is a fitness,career, or personal goal, you know the best way to get yourself there.

I will go to the gym. I will make healthy choices today. I will. . . .

Be declarative with yourself when you are setting goals. Saying “I will go to the gym 4 times this week” rather than “will I have time to go to the gym 4 times this week?” can make all the difference in whether you stick with your goals. Research indicates that using declarative wording instead of interrogative wring can increase your motivation and goal- directive behavior. Saying “I will” gives you a greater sense of accountability because you made a commitment to do something. “I will” is a call to action, while “will I” or “can I” does not call for you to do anything.

Next time you are setting goals make sure that you are using a declarative voice and making a commitment. You will be much more likely to stick with your goals this way. It can also help to discuss your goals out loud with a peer. Telling a peer that you will be going to the gym 4 times this week will give you even more accountability to follow through.

If you are still having troubles completing the goals you have set for yourself each week, try picturing the satisfaction you will feel when you do. Studies have suggested that men and women who use the dissatisfaction they feel with their current performance as a motivator were less successful than those who used the future satisfaction they will feel after succeeding as a motivator. Do not get down on yourself for your current performance levels! Instead use your energy to picture how great you will feel when your goals are met. Even if you are just picturing yourself meeting your goals one week at a time, each week makes a difference in your long term success.

People tend to think that motivation works like this:
I will feel motivated to eat better and workout. Then I will act on my feelings. I will feel motivated and continuously work towards the body I want.

Motivation really works like this:
You do something positive repeatedly. You feel good about yourself for doing something. If you’re lucky you will now have some motivation to do more. Something will cause you to lose your momentum/motivation (this is reality). Then you should return to doing something positive repeatedly as fast as you can.

The important thing to take away from this is that it is ok to “fall off the wagon” and slip up sometimes. What matters is that you keep getting back on track. The more you get back up after falling, the easier it gets. You will be able to bounce back easier and the time between the falls and the bounce backs will shorten.

The first step to getting back on track is remembering how good it feels to be back in a health and fitness routine. Remind yourself that you did it before and you can do it again.

Motivation comes from within us. Certain messages feel motivational because they strike a cord with us. We need to hear the same messages that elicit motivation within us, and realize that their meaning changes based on where we are in our lives. We find different ways for these messages to motivate us. From there we can begin the cycle again and be proud of ourselves for doing so.

Now that the holidays are over and we are heading further into the winter months, it is more common for people to start experiencing the affects of Seasonal Affective Disorder. SAD is a type of depression that is linked to the seasons. It is most commonly experienced during the dark winter months.

Symptoms of SAD include irritability, tiredness and low energy, weight gain, hypersensitivity to rejection, oversleeping, and changes in appetite.

SAD can be caused by a disruption in your biological clock, reduced serotonin levels, or offset levels of melatonin. Your biological clock is disrupted when there is a reduced amount of sunlight in the winter. This leads to your internal clock being thrown off which can cause feelings of depression. Reduced sunlight can also cause a drop in your production of serotonin. Serotonin relays messages from one area of the brain to another and plays a large role in your moods. With a smaller amount of serotonin you are more likely to feel moody and sad. Melatonin also plays a large role in your mood. Changes in the season can disrupt your natural levels of melatonin, which can cause moodiness and fatigue.

Even if you don’t suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, it is common to feel the winter blues during this time of the year. Here are some ways to keep those blue feelings away.

– Exercise! Working out is a great way to boost your energy levels and elevate your mood.

– Eat healthy. It is common for people to start craving foods that are heavy in carbohydrates during this time of year. Try to keep a healthy balance of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats. Make sure a good amount of your carbs come from fruits and veggies as well!

– Get sunlight when you can. Bundle up and take a walk outside when you can. Even ten minutes of sun can make a difference.

– Plan something you can look forward to. Whether it is a vacation somewhere warm or just a fun weekend outing with friends, planning something to look forward to makes a huge difference.

– Stay social. Don’t let the winter cold keep you from being social! Loneliness can play a large role in depressed feelings. Make sure you are getting out of the house and interacting with others frequently.

– Embrace the season. It will be warm again before you know it. Enjoy the beauty that winter brings while you can.

As the new year approaches men and women begin to set their resolutions and intentions for the next year. A great intention to have is to incorporate more acts of kindness into your life. Studies have shown that there is a positive correlation between kindness and happiness. The more random acts of kindness you engage in, the happier you will be.

A study published in the Journal of Social Psychology found that a group of men and women assigned to conduct daily acts of kindness for ten days experienced a significant boost in happiness. Just ten days of doing good deeds boosted their levels of life satisfaction.

See the full study here: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00224540903365554#.VKMO0N4hegE

Another study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies found that men and women feel happier when they are asked to recall a time they spent money on another person versus when they are asked to recall a time they spent money on themselves. The boost in happiness was the same for men and women regardless of the cost of the gift.

See the full study here: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10902-011-9267-5

As the studies show, being kind in 2015 is a great way to ensure you have a happy and fulfilling year.

Have a wonderful start to 2015!

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