Life comes at you fast, often out of nowhere. Recently, my maternal grandmother passed away. For those who’ve been in a similar situation, it can be difficult to keep positive, especially with the presence of school, work and various social activities. Repressing the spectrum of emotions that come with any negative event, such as a passing or even a disappointing test score, may seem like the easy way out. But in the end, it is not healthy for your mind, body or soul. In regard to this, I made a list of actions I like to take that have helped me overcome negative thoughts or events I’ve encountered through my life.
1. Write down good things that happen to you
By doing this, you’ll be able to reflect on what has been going well for you in your life, even if you feel like you’ve been stuck in a downward cycle. It can be anything from having someone hold the door open to you to acing an interview with a company you really love. What you write down doesn’t have to be extravagant, but just enough so that you can reflect back on it with a smile.
2. Keep a gratitude journal
Gratitude is a powerful tool – use it to enrich yourself by appreciating all the positive events, people and things that have been introduced in your life thus far. Keeping a gratitude journal allows you to jot down and remember any positive, lasting memories that you may forget otherwise. Keeping a grateful mindset has kept me going in times of self-doubt and apprehension because it compelled me to accept that sometimes things may not go as we planned, but because of that there may be a blessing in disguise somewhere else.
3. Let light in. Literally.
Sometimes in order to change our perspectives, we need to literally change our surroundings. If you feel trapped in your room or anywhere really, see if there is a window nearby that you can unlatch, or a curtain that you can draw open to let some sunshine in. At least in my opinion, whenever I am somewhere that is dimly lit or dark I tend to feel either tired or unproductive. This is a simple adjustment you can do to help combat any darkness you might be feeling.
4. Try and find the positive sides of situations
When I received the phone call about my grandmother, there was certainly a lot to unpack mentally. I was fortunate enough that I had time to prepare myself for this moment, as her passing was gradual. During this period, I reflected on some profound thoughts I had and instead shifted my paradigm to one of appreciation and positivity from that of pure sadness and hopelessness. My grandma had a long, fulfilling life, and she was in great hands when she died from old age. She would now live in eternal peace, free of any pain or suffering. Focusing on the positive in this particular situation helped me to cope better with it and allowed me closure more than anything.
5. Jot down everything you could be stressing about
This may seem counterintuitive, but at least from my point of view this helps to quell my anxiety and bouts of overthinking. By writing down everything I’m currently stressing about, I usually am able to see that most of what I worry about can be reasonably fixed and that I can physically take note of what needs to be done in order for my tasks to be accomplished.
6. Do one thing a day that makes you happy/fulfilled
Whether it be drawing your favorite TV show characters, relaxing with friends or even treating yourself to your favorite flavor of ice cream, try and fit an activity in your day that makes you feel happy and/or fulfilled. It doesn’t necessarily have to be productive; let whatever you do be self-indulgent so you can truly take time to relax and stay out of any negative funk.
As simple as it sounds, sometimes we get so busy with our schedule that we forget to step back and process what we’re feeling. Take a deep breath and let it out along with any negative emotions that you’ve been feeling. By doing this, you’ll be able to clear your mind and make room for future positive emotions.
You don’t need to be positive 24/7. If you need time to feel sad, allow yourself a moment for catharsis. Sometimes sticking to the positive is just not in people’s personalities. However, consider this list a start to help yourself get in a positive frame of mind, for the benefit of your mind, body and soul.