3 Positive Thinking Exercises and Habits to Improve Mental Wellness
As humans, we have a natural tendency to pay more attention to negative experiences than positive ones. We may even learn more from negative experiences because they stick out in our minds. Over time, though, these negative thought patterns can significantly affect the way we think about ourselves and the world. Negative thinking can eventually lead to depression and develop into mood or anxiety disorders, which can make it hard for you to get through each day.
Constantly being in a negative mindset can also affect your self-esteem and personal relationships. When we practice being optimistic, it can help us feel better about ourselves, be open to new opportunities and get the most out of life. We’re here to show you how to change your mindset to positive so you can embrace a healthier lifestyle — however that looks to you.
3 Great Positive Thinking Techniques
Improving your mental well-being looks different for everyone, and it doesn’t happen overnight. Starting small is a fantastic way to learn how to feel generally more optimistic.
Whether you want to begin exercising, become more organized, improve your nutrition or find more free time for yourself, simply changing your mindset to stop negative thoughts is a wonderful first step. We’re usually our own biggest critics, and the way we think about ourselves can prevent us from trying something new or improving our health.
Give these positive thinking exercises a go, and see how they work for you. Don’t be afraid to tweak them to fit your personal needs or come up with your own method!
1. Use a Mantra or Positive Affirmation
If you don’t know how to start improving your mental wellness, consider reflecting on your feelings and your day with a personal mantra or positive affirmation. Positive thinking techniques are perfect for reminding you of everything you love about yourself and your life. When you find statements that resonate with you and repeat them out loud every day, you can make yourself feel a little better. Even if you feel a little silly at first, that’s okay!
Eventually, you will start to believe in these affirmations more and more and recognize that they do ring true. If you’re dealing with low self-esteem or want to feel inspired every morning before you take on the day, choose one or more of the following statements or develop your own:
- I wake up motivated.
- I am getting better and better every day.
- My confidence rises with every breath I take.
- I am grateful for everything I have in my life.
- I am getting healthier every day.
- I am in charge of my life.
- I have the power to create change.
- I act today to improve my life tomorrow.
- I believe in myself and my abilities.
- I develop and grow in ways that help me succeed.
To help you develop a positive thinking habit, try to do this exercise at the same time every day, whether it’s during your morning coffee or your afternoon meditation. You may find that repeating your mantra is most helpful at times when you feel the busiest or most stressed.
2. Find a Silver Lining and Identify the Benefits in Negative Situations
You’ve likely heard the phrase “focus on the positive!” from a friend or loved one. While this is certainly easier said than done, the core meaning of this statement holds true. It’s easy to get bogged down by the negatives — we may not even realize how much time we spend reflecting on a negative situation or feeling until we’re mentally drained.
Finding the silver lining or identifying a single positive characteristic of a negative life event helps us see the situation from a new perspective. Understanding how challenging situations can be beneficial can even help us become more resilient.
Reflect on the experience that’s led to your negative thoughts. Talk with a friend, family member or counselor — or even out loud to yourself — and express all emotions freely. Once you’re done, turn your attention to the positive aspects you may have overlooked. What has the experience taught you? How has the situation made you better equipped to meet other challenges in the future?
Notice your tendency to revert to thinking negatively, pause and replace them with positive alternatives. Practice until you form the habit of building positive emotions when reliving past events.
3. Perform Daily Motivational Awareness Exercises
For the third exercise, the goal is to increase awareness of things that inspire, motivate and excite you in your daily life. Take a few moments throughout your day to quiet your mind and reflect on things that excite you about your future. What are your dreams, goals and aspirations? Do you want to focus on your health, work toward a promotion or learn a new skill?
Come up with two to three things that make you feel motivated and write them down. Then, consider what steps you will take to put these goals into action. For example, if you want to prioritize your health, an actionable step would be to start eating nourishing, fresh foods that your body needs to keep you energized.
Other ways you can improve motivational and self-awareness include:
- Surrounding yourself with images of motivators, values and rewards that drive you.
- Identifying a motivational person(s) in your life.
- Practicing self-care.
- Setting realistic, attainable daily goals.
- Asking loved ones for feedback on your progress.
- Identifying what triggers your negative emotions.
- Writing your feelings in a daily journal.
Breaking Negative Thought Patterns
Habits are hard to break. Once we get used to a certain way of thinking, it becomes easier and easier to slip into those patterns every day. If you’re struggling with negative thought patterns, try and identify how they appear to you. Here are some forms of negative self-talk you may encounter:
- Filtering: You filter out all positive elements of an event or experience and magnify or focus only on the negative.
- Personalization and blame: You instantly blame yourself when something negative happens, even if it’s something you have no control over. You take things personally, even when they are not personal.
- Catastrophizing: You tend to anticipate and assume the worst possible outcome without considering the more realistic possibilities. You assume a negative situation in the morning means your entire day will be a disaster.
- “Should” statements: You constantly tell yourself the things you should do or should have done in a situation and blame yourself for not doing them. You tend to feel defeated and pessimistic about your ability to succeed.
- Polarizing: You see every situation as black and white or good or bad. You don’t allow for grey areas, the middle ground or seeing both sides of an experience.
- Emotional reasoning: You assume negative aspects of a situation are true simply because of your emotional response to it. If you feel anxious, you automatically assume something bad will happen, which increases your anxiety.
If any of these negative thought patterns look familiar to you, that means you can identify them in the future. Remember, it’s normal to fall into negative thinking, we all do it. Be kind to yourself and remind yourself that you’re doing your best! Changing thought patterns and habits looks different for everyone, but identifying the source can tell you what’s causing your negative thoughts and put you on the path toward mental wellness.
How Nutrition Is Linked to Mental Wellness
It’s no secret that our physical and mental wellness are connected. When we take care of our bodies, we tend to sleep better and feel better overall. Sometimes, though, we fall into a habit of having a cup of coffee for breakfast, skipping lunch and eating meals lacking in nutrients for dinner.
Our brains rely on the fuel we give our bodies to function. If we neglect our nutrition, our brain essentially runs on empty. Nourishing your brain with vitamins and minerals can improve your brain function, reduce inflammation and regulate your bodily functions.
Research shows that eating foods high in nutrients helps boost the good bacteria in our gastrointestinal tract, which is responsible for producing serotonin. Serotonin helps us regulate our moods, appetite and sleep. Natural, fresh ingredients like fruits and vegetables can even act as natural probiotics, which improves our body’s ability to absorb nutrients and protect against toxins.
Food is directly linked to our mental health, which means we tend to eat too little or ignore nutrition when we feel depressed or stressed. When we start eating healthier foods, we can actually change the physiology of our brain and gut, which can influence our emotional behaviors. Practicing more mindful, well-balanced eating can improve our mental state and make it easier to engage in healthier patterns.
See How Fresh Ingredients Can Contribute to Your Mental and Physical Wellness
Breaking negative thought patterns can be challenging, but these mental wellness tips and exercises are an easy way to start. Focusing on your health and nutrition is also an effective way to feel better about yourself and fuel positive growth. Eating balanced meals full of delicious, fresh produce can help your body feel more energized and empower you to take on the day. At Salata Salad Kitchen, we believe fresh, healthy and convenient meals are a simple way you can improve your mental wellness.
We’ve got you covered with easy, customizable meals full of nutrients to help you tackle your day. Whether you’re starting a new job and looking for a quick way to get in all your daily greens or a busy parent on the go who doesn’t have a lot of time to cook, Salata has everything you need for healthy eating. We provide fresh fruits, vegetables, proteins and housemade dressings that fit a variety of dietary and nutritional needs. Explore our menu of nutritious options or order online today for convenient pickup or delivery.