Health Advocate Blog

Cultivate positivity to handle life’s ups and downs

If you have traditionally had difficulty rolling with the punches in life, here’s good news:  It’s possible to transform your negative reactions by doing things on a day-to-day basis that help build up a bank of positive emotions. This, in turn, can help you cope better with change, be more resilient, and feel better, too.  Try these tips.

Behave as happy people do. Research shows that you can “act” your way to positivity.  For example, try bringing energy and enthusiasm to discussions. And smile! Smiling is a proven way to help you feel happier.

Share positive events and good news. Making that good news go farther gives you an emotional lift.

Perform acts of kindness. People who spread kindness report increased levels of happiness and positive moods.

Spend time in nature. Spending even as little as an hour in contact with nature (versus in an urban setting) appears to have a restorative effect, both increasing positive emotions and decreasing negative emotions.

Surround yourself with optimistic people. It’s true–moods are contagious! Try modeling the behavior of that upbeat friend of yours. Do they put on lively music and dance a bit when they need a lift? Do they use a special phrase that keeps them going during bumpy times, such as “this too shall pass,” “to every life, some rain must fall,” etc.? Reminders—whether you verbally or mentally repeat them or see them posted on your fridge—can help carry you through everyday rough spots.

Limit the downers. As you bring more things into your life that help you feel optimistic, get rid of those items and people who that dampen your mood. Is it clutter? Too much stuff dragging you down and reminding you of the maintenance involved in owning it? Gossipers who spread negativity? Take action to clear out what may be unconsciously or consciously bogging you down.

Retrain your “self talk.” Statements such as “I can’t do that” or “I’m afraid I’ll fail” clutter your mind and condition it to expect negative results. Telling yourself that you can handle challenges can help set you up for success.

Use reason, not reaction, when things go wrong. Step back and look at problems logically. This can help you find a solution and use resources to avoid more problems and frustration.

Heed healthy habits. Exercise like brisk walking stokes the feel-good endorphins in your body, yoga or meditation helps calm an anxious mind, and getting exposure to sunlight can elevate the serotonin, brighten your mood, and improve sleep. These positive actions can help promote positivity re-actions.