Humans can easily focus on doom and gloom but not without reason.
We are intended to learn from bad experiences and trauma in life so that we can avoid similar circumstances, or outcomes, in the future. Unfortunately, this can keep us feeling more like an Eeyore, focused on negative outcomes and life’s tragedies, than a carefree Pooh Bear, always with his eye on the honey.
We also have constant access to information all day long, which can become very draining and heavy.
My very feisty ninety-year old grandmother recently passed away and there was not a day that went by that she was not attached to the news. I can only imagine what it would have been like had she had the internet and social media. Every conversation with her growing up had to do with something unpleasant she saw on the news. I realize now that her negativity was actually worry for my safety in a world she found scary.
The world can seem dark and unkind. It takes a toll on our mental health and happiness.
Here are several ways to shift your mindset daily.
The Trade: The News. We have constant access to the news. If one observes the news regularly, it would be very understandable, especially in today’s climate, that they would be fearful, disheartened and angry. While I understand that having access to news can have immense value for a multitude of reasons, more often than not, it can be a point of contention and hold us back, instead of moving the needle forward. Instead of having the news on in the background, focus on things that inspire you and push you forward— things that lighten your load, so to speak. The Swap:Swap out the news channel for an inspiring podcast relevant to you. I personally am a huge fan of Mel Robbins.
The Trade: Celebrity gossip magazines and gossip channels. Of course, if you are sitting around bored at the hair salon, or stuck in the Doctor’s office, thumbing through a juicy magazine, or tabloid can be a fun little distraction. How do these stories of celebrities and social media personalities influence your thoughts and behavior? Does knowing what an “influencer” is doing have a positive impact on your mental health? What may seem as harmless can actually lead to a viscous cycle and obsession. If you notice that your mood changes, you get riled up, moody, anxious, or depressed, or it takes away from your ability to be present, it is not having a positive impact on your health and could actually be weakening your immune system. The Swap: Swap out social media/gossip magazines for a feel good novel. Reading a book can not only provide entertainment, but also exercise the brain and improve your ability to concentrate and focus. Reading can also reduce stress and improve sleep.
The Trade: Happy Hour. Happy hour can be a fun way to socialize. But regularly using cocktails, or even sugary mocktails and apps as the way you connect with other humans and coworkers can have a negative impact on your overall health. The Swap: A walk. I know, I know… not as fun as a beverage but walking is an excellent way to improve your mood, balance hormones, stay fit and yep… have a conversation. Aim to walk 2-3 miles a day.
The Trade: Listening to sad songs on repeat. Music can affect your mood. Even sad music can offer comfort. However, sad music can also stir up negative feelings and grief. The Swap: Uplifting Beats. I love a good sad song here and there, but when you are feeling low, unmotivated, or just plain blah, try putting on a song that will get your feet tapping and body moving. Feel like being alone? Jump into the car and sing at the top of your lungs. Listening to music and creating music is therapeutic.
The Trade: Binge watching a sitcom, or video game. I get it— TV is an easy way to disconnect, which is fine and dandy when it is not a regular occurrence. But what about real life? When you are watching 6 episodes in one sitting, you are losing a lot of brain time and may become isolated, anti-social and it could contribute to increased anxiety and poor sleep. Not to mention, the longer we sit in front of the television, the more likely we are to snack mindlessly. While this is not the perfect swap (and I can already feel the eye rolls) try dialing up an old friend, a grandparent, veteran, or befriending a lonely soul. Volunteer your services to someone less fortunate than you and be surprised at how energizing it is to give to those that really value what you have to offer. If none of these sound enticing, find a community, or surround yourself with people that dare you to dream. I think many of us have forgotten how to dream and it leads to poor choices and bad habits.
Take a break from mindless comforts and dare to dream. You deserve to be happy and healthy.