Monday, March 4, 2024

11 Ways on How to Get Out of a Negative Headspace

December 15, 2020  
Filed under Smart & Savvy

Happy place

Whether we like it or not, we’re all products of nature and nurture. Our way of thinking and behavior are determined by the environment we grew up in, what we’re constantly surrounded by, as well as our genetic makeup. Though we can’t go back and change the past or who we are, thankfully there are some things we can control to influence the way we think.

Negativity is everywhere we turn, but some are less affected by it than others and have the ability to stay calm and positive, while others consistently get stuck in a negative headspace that leads to anxiety, fear and depression. It’s an unhealthy habit that requires conscious and consistent effort to break out of.  

A recent study by neuroscientists found that the brain area responsible for pessimism is caused by an overstimulation of the caudate nucleus. It’s connected to both anxiety and depression that makes a person see the downside of a situation more than the potential benefits. 

Although there may be no magical treatment or switch to turn off your negativity channel—at least yet—here are 11 things you can do to improve your state of mind.

  1. Gain awareness and be determined. First is being cognizant that you do think negatively in the moments you do and have the determination to get out of it, because it will take conscious effort. 
  2. Change your what-if mentality. Break the cycle by getting rid of the pessimistic “what if” thinking habit. In our heads, we might constantly conjure up worst-case scenarios when the reality might not even come close. Eg, you look up a symptom online and make a conclusion it must be cancer. This is catastrophic or fatalistic thinking that turns you unnecessarily into a nervous and worried wreck. Instead of thinking about possible worst case scenarios, change it to the best case scenarios, which is the optimistic “what if” thinking habit.
  3. Complete your thought with a positive clause. The next time you catch yourself thinking negatively or cynically, complete your thought with a positive such as, “…but at least I have/am able to.” For instance, “this happened, but at least I can learn this or that lesson.”
  4. Control what you see. Post positive visuals, quotes, verses, and phrases where you frequently look such as your bathroom mirror, phone lock screen, desktop background, etc. 
  5. Practice generous thinking. Express gratitude, practice complimenting people, and express appreciation out loud. For instance, when you see a beautiful sunset, express the beauty out loud, eg, “that’s so gorgeous,” even if it’s just to yourself. Science has shown that what you say out loud is believed by your subconscious.  
  6. Surround yourself with positive and happy people. Seek out a community that will support you, cheer you on, and/or pray for you. Jim Rohn, an American entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker famously said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” 
  7. Purposefully choose the content you consume and don’t just click. News channels and social media can be filled with an overwhelming amount of negativity and questionable content that can lead you down a rabbit hole. Aim to read and watch positive, uplifting content and avoid negative ones if possible.
  8. Exercise and do activities that release endorphins (happy chemicals). This includes running, dancing, sports, gardening, and other cardio exercises.
  9. Improve the way you talk. Make a goal of using positive and optimistic phrases and vocab instead of complaining, grumbling, and any form of negative talk.
  10. Let it go. Logically think about and write down what you can control and what you can’t, and determine to just try your best.
  11. Pray and meditate. Depending on a higher power and regularly practicing these activities can help you slow down, relax, self-reflect, re-align and recharge your mind.

No one likes being around negative people, so if you want to be more likeable, it’s another reason to make it a habit to get out of a negative headspace. Sometimes negativity can be caused by being too hard on yourself, so remember to be kind to yourself and say NO to your alter ego when it decides to make an appearance. Willie Nelson said it well: “Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.” 

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