We all know what being in a funk feels like. Have you ever found yourself stuck in negative thoughts about yourself, your job, or the situation you are in? That’s the funk. Put simply, the funk is being frustrated with how life is treating us. In those moments we usually are looking at life in a pretty pessimistic way. Research has found that being too pessimistic can actually negatively affect your health. Harvard Medical School recently published an article looking at positive thinking and optimism, and the positive mental and physical benefits that came with it.
So how do I think positively when I’m frustrated and in a funk? Don’t ignore all the bad things in the world and pretend that those are not happening. Instead, positive thinking is approaching a situation and believing that a good thing will come of it. It is also taking a bad situation and finding a way to grow because of it instead of letting the negative control you. Positive thinking often begins with self talk. Essentially the things you say to yourself in daily life. If your self talk is mostly positive, you are more likely optimistic. If your self talk is mostly negative, you are more likely pessimistic.
What are the benefits exactly
There are many benefits to thinking positive, both mentally and physically. To start, research has shown that if you think more positively in your daily life, you are less likely to struggle with anxiety. This same research showed that people who were more optimistic were less likely to have suicidal thoughts, and more likely to use coping skills effectively.
Physically, optimism and positive thinking has been shown to increase your life-span, lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, lower your average blood pressure, and have a stronger immune system. It is incredible that a simple way of viewing the world and thinking about situations can affect your health in so many ways.
Ways to shift negative thinking to positive
There are many ways to work on changing your way to thinking to be more positive. The first is to identify which negative thinking or negative self talk you may be engaging in. The most common forms of negative self talk include filtering, polarizing, catastrophizing, and personalizing.
Filtering is when you look only at the negatives of a situation and filter out the positives. Polarizing is seeing something as either totally good or totally bad. Catastrophizing is taking a normal situation and seeing the absolute worst case scenario and assuming it will happen. And last but not least, personalizing is viewing something as being totally your fault, even though it may have nothing to do with you.
Internal Ways of thinking positive
Luckily, there are many ways to shift your thinking into a more positive mind frame! The first is to identify which of the negative self talk you may engage in the most. Once you recognize that you are engaging in negative self talk, it will be easier for you to notice it and shift to the positive. If you do notice you are engaging in negative self talk the first thing to do is stop. Then proceed as if you are talking to a good friend of yours. Be gentle and kind to yourself. Think about the things you did do well or that you are thankful for.
External ways of thinking positive
There are many others ways to become more optimistic and positive. One of which is to surround yourself with positive people. Another is adding humor and laughter into your life. A third is having an overall healthy lifestyle. Just adding 30 minutes of exercise into your day can help your mood and body! And as always, don’t forget to use your coping skills! Click here to learn more about coping skills and why they matter (insert blog post).
These tips and tricks may be able to help you turn your frown upside down. However, if you find that you are deeply struggling with thinking negatively and cannot find your way out of these thoughts, it may be time to seek some professional help. My colleagues at Family Therapy Associates has a number of highly trained therapists who can help. Click here to learn more about them.