Staying Positive in Difficult Seasons: A Little Self-Care

self-careDo you ever stop and wonder what it will be like looking back on 2020 in a few years? I’m guessing anyone whose job involves education or healthcare will have vivid memories and a ton of stories.

Difficult seasons are part of life and they will come and go. It may not always look like a global pandemic, but life throws curveballs at us all the time. Sometimes it’s personal, sometimes corporate, sometimes national, and sometimes global.

As we work together to navigate difficult times, we wanted to remind you to think about how critical it is to maintain a positive attitude. Of course, we want to encourage you to share with your staff and students, but we want to start with you as an individual. It’s time to make sure you do a little self-care on this front. Then you can encourage your staff and students with not just your words, but your actions.

We all know from our own experience that the days we have a positive outlook on life are vastly different from the days we dwell on the negative. Having a positive attitude can boost your energy, heighten your inner strength, inspire others, and help provide you the resources to tackle difficult challenges.

Research from the Mayo Clinic tell us that positive thinking can:

  • increase your life span
  • decrease depression
  • reduce levels of distress
  • provide greater resistance to the common cold
  • offer better psychological well-being
  • offer better physical well-being
  • help reduce the risk of death from cardiovascular disease
  • help you cope better during hardships and times of stress.

Now that is a good list! We want that for ourselves and we want that for our clients and everyone that you influence in your day to day life. If you struggle with thinking positive, it might be time to create a plan to reshape your thinking.

How you ask? Well here are a few ways to help you get started:

Choose who you spend time with - surround yourself with positive people. 

You have a choice to make as you go through your days. Choose to spend time with people who are positive, supportive, and who encourage and energize you. Remember, if you get too close to a drowning victim, they may take you down with them. Pick a positive person instead.

Be positive. 

If you don’t want to be surrounded by negative people, what makes you think others do? Learn to master your own thoughts. Here are some ways to be positive by controlling your negative thinking:

  • See the glass as half full rather than half empty.
  • Try to avoid taking in too much news or negative social media
  • Anticipate the best outcome instead of the worst
  • Avoid viewing things in extremes — as either fantastic or a catastrophe. The middle ground is good ground in this season.
  • Give yourself a break when you allow negativity to settle in. It’s okay to mess it up, just don’t live there.
  • Be intentional about choosing to avoid negative thinking

Try being nice to yourself.

Often we are own worst enemy and we don’t stop to be kind to ourselves. Try being mindful of speaking kind words to yourself, fire your inner critic and then DO something nice for yourself. Take a bath, lay in a hammock, slowly sip a cup of tea, read the newspaper. Whatever being kind looks like to you, do that!

Set realistic, achievable goals. 

When times are difficult, moving forward is sometimes done one step at a time. Think about the next “first down” if you’re a football fan, or simply getting to first base if baseball is your thing! It’s okay to have big goals, but in times of longer-term stress, the best way to stay positive is to keep achieving smaller, realistic goals. And be sure to celebrate those small wins!

Keep things in perspective. 

No matter what season you are in, life is always about choosing your priorities and making sure you focus on what really matters to you. Don’t sweat the small stuff, sweat the big stuff. Small stuff goes wrong regularly, but don’t let that stuff get you down.

Count your blessings. 

Not just figuratively, literally! Be intentional every day about identifying the good things in your life. Some people carry a gratitude journal and write things down as they come to mind. Maybe you might share one thing every day with your coworkers or students that you are grateful for. This is a great habit to develop and will serve you for the rest of your life.

Somebody unknown once said “The happiest people don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have.”

If you want to be a person who lives a happier, healthier life, and has the opportunity to help shape the thinking and attitudes of those around you, take some time to do some self-care and create a plan to shape your mental attitude today.