Life is precious and fragile, so why spend time stressed out and anxious about the future or past when you can be serene and steady, living in the present moment? Make an action plan to counteract negative thinking and resulting negative emotions that can drain you of energy and joy. When you practice any or all of the following strategies, you can build your enthusiasm, sense of purpose, and fun. You’ll notice you’re more relaxed, more productive, and more optimistic as you apply the following techniques:
Exercise Daily. Physical exercise reduces stress, counteracts depression, and pumps up your energy. Design a personal program that works for you. Whether it’s a walk in the park or a fiendishly brutal MMA-type workout, be sure you’re consistent. If your plan is three, six or even days a week, stick to it. And consult with a professional trainer for best results. The point is that when you’re building your muscles, you’re building your brain, and a strong brain and body will result in greater self-confidence, better health, and greater bliss!
Socialize, in Real Time, With Real People. Avoid the tendency to isolate. It’s so much easier to get stressed out when you’re all alone, and trying to connect with others on your phone, i-pad or computer can only take you so far. Humans need social contact. When you attend meetings and parties, go out for coffee, take a fun class, or even stroll around a museum, you get outside your own head and most likely begin to feel more creative, happy and confident.
Do Something Nice for Somebody. This works best if you do the good deed without expecting any credit or recompense. Let somebody go ahead of you in line at the ATM, grocery, or gas pump. In traffic, let another car merge or make a turn. Open a door for someone, hold the elevator, take time to acknowledge someone of lesser status. Give someone a sincere compliment or praise. Pay the toll for the car behind you. These simple acts of kindness can slow your frantic pace momentarily and give you a chance to get centered. And there’s always the “karma” factor: you feel good when you do good.
Set Aside Time to Meditate. Daily meditation is proven to relieve stress and anxiety while promoting both mental and physical health. Mindfulness meditation is simple and practical. Practice your “now” awareness: you do this sitting, lying down, or even while taking a walk in the outdoors. Focus on the present moment, observing your body, mind and emotions. Refrain from judging, but simply observe each thought or sensation. Allow your senses to record your environment as you relax, breathing slowly. A quick way to begin is to close your eyes, then as you slowly inhale, say, “I am,” and slowly exhale, say, “…relaxed.” Try repeating that statement in sync with your breathing.
Engage in Positive Visualization. The conscious practice of positive visualization is a powerful and effective way to lift your mood, improve your outlook, and increase your confidence. Athletes, artists and entertainers utilize this amazing tool to accomplish goals and increase skills and ability. Visualization works best when you’re totally relaxed. When you visualize, picture yourself in the desired situation, and “act out” the scene carefully, paying attention to each desired detail. You can turbo-charge this by consciously allowing yourself to luxuriate in a strong positive feeling as you guide yourself through the visualization.
Use Positive Self-Talk. Instead of allowing a negative inner monologue to influence or even dominate your emotional life, apply layers of super-positive, self-enhancing statements that will effectively counteract the negative default programming. Use mantras — quick, alliterative phrases that will pump you up and keep your focus optimistic. When I quit doing hard drugs and started my journey back from homelessness and PTSD, I used the mantra, “There’s hope after dope!” Another simple mantra is, “Thank you!” Encourage yourself, be your own best friend and keep a pep talk going through challenges and stress.
Remember to Have Fun. Laugh, play games, joke around and make sure you allow yourself plenty of time for celebrating each and every one of your accomplishments, as well as those of your friends. Practice the art of not taking yourself too seriously. Even when you’re working or doing something serious, cultivate a sense of fun and enjoy the moment. Appreciate other people and give them credit for saying something funny or contributing to a fun vibe or experience.
Harness the Power of Gratitude. Make a gratitude list and read it to yourself daily. Take care to acknowledge and thank people around you that you may be taking for granted. Think of all the good things, nice words, help, money and love you’ve received in life up to this point. Who has taught you, encouraged you, made you laugh, listened to you, and employed you? Breathe in and appreciate the fact that you’re alive. Anticipate and express gratitude for all the promise that life holds for you. Gratitude increases exponentially as you use it, and as you find more and more things to be grateful for, you’ll find yourself wanting to pay it forward to others, completing the gratitude circle.