Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Happiness Factor: Must-Have Secrets for a Care-Free Summer



Sand between your toes. The smell of freshly mowed grass. A moonlit evening on the porch. Time with friends. Family. Children. Grandchildren. Happy, carefree summertime memories. Whoa … stop reading now – rewind. How's your summer really going?

The kids are out of school. Your in-laws are visiting. Regular demands, no time. Low energy. Long vacation car ride. Not feeling good about yourself. Stress. It's the summer – shouldn't it be happy?
How we respond to life's events is an individual freedom of choice. The kids being out of school can either be a joy or simply one more thing to manage. It's up to you on how you view it. Studies report that 40% of happiness is up each of us.* And, our response to any given situation can profoundly affect our overall health.

Everyone has set-backs, conflicts and challenges. But, those who feel less stressed tend to categorize themselves as genuinely happy. They manage the ups and downs by viewing the glass half-full and reframing the situation with a positive lens.

Creating a positive attitude is an essential tool in managing stress, which in turn impacts your overall wellness and even your ability to lose weight. Positive thinking does not mean that you have to live life through 'rose colored glasses.' Instead, it's an attitude that will help you address conflict or unpleasantness in a more productive way.

In general, positive people tend to make choices that are better for health and overall wellness. Taking the time to relax and turn negative thoughts into a positive ones isn't as difficult as it may seem. Here are 5 tips to make this summer a great season in life:

Practice Positive Self-Talk. Start by following one simple rule: Don't say anything to yourself that you wouldn't say to anyone else. Be gentle and encouraging with yourself. If a negative thought enters your mind, evaluate it rationally and respond with affirmations of what is good about you.

Let It Go. Relax and manage the stressful situation by practicing the 3-2-1. Close your eyes and tighten your hands to make a fist. Hold for 3 seconds. At the same time, take a deep breath and hold for 2 seconds. Then on 1, totally let it everything go. Exhale the air, relax your hands, and release the tension.

Surround Yourself with the Positive. Seek out supportive people that can offer encouragement and helpful support. Discourage negativity and critical behavior – and do your best to avoid those who may compromise your ability to be in the moment.

Express Gratitude. Even in the most challenging of days, pick 5 things that you can be grateful for. It could even be that you got out of bed this morning! Write them down each day. Review at the end of the week and at the end of the month. You may be surprised to find that you really are "too blessed to be stressed."

Practice Turning a Negative Statement into a Positive. Take a negative statement: "I can't do this." And come up with its positive: "I can make it work." Turn the "I've never done that before" into "It's an opportunity to try something new." This is a great car game – how many positive (and perhaps zany) statements can you make out of 1 negative. Then give yourself permission to laugh – you'll feel less stressed.

This summer it's up to you – expect the best, and go get it.

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