Let’s face it: Winter is a tough season to get through (yeah, yeah California, get it all out now). The days get shorter, the weather gets brutal, and the flu season is in full effect. Even though you just recently made your New Year's resolutions, you are beginning to find that you are blaming other factors for why you are not accomplishing your goals, and your resolve begins to fade. From long-term goals to running everyday errands, sometimes it’s just easier to make justifications and put them off. Eventually you begin to think that rather than setting goals and being productive, you would much rather just stay inside bundled up in front of a fire drinking hot cocoa.
Many times when it seems like the world is against you, your mind begins to think negatively which leads to a perpetual cycle of bad thoughts. "This weather is making me so depressed." "It just feels like there's not enough time in the day to get anything done." "It’s like the cold just sucks all the energy out of me." So how do you get over those mental barriers and just do what you need to do? Well, the latter part of that last sentence is your answer; just do it. Though this is something much easier said than done, these five tips will help keep your mind in a positive place, allowing you to progress without being held back by the mental barriers.
This one comes first because internalizing this one piece of advice will make the rest come naturally. The most important part of this process is to recognize that you are thinking negatively in the first place. Your mind is powerful enough such that whatever thoughts are constantly in your subconscious, they will eventually manifest themselves into action. This is the moral of the story of "The Little Engine That Could." It seems so trite, but it really drives the point home that your thoughts will ultimately influence your actions, and if you are positive, then your outcome will be the same.
This goes hand in hand with ridding your mind of negative thinking, because the words you speak are the step between thoughts manifesting into actions. Take for example, the phrase "I can’t do it." Next time you catch yourself saying that, try to modify it by saying "I don’t know how to do it, but I’ll try." Eventually, you will be able to shift your frame of mind such that you're saying "I will try it, and if I fail it's okay because I learned something." Negative words compound each other and turn into a feedback loop. Luckily, the same is true for positive thoughts. If you continually vocalize the idea that you will be successful, those words will cascade and direct you in a path of positive thinking until you reach your goal.
Guilt only further exacerbates your negative thinking, because eventually those feelings turn into fear of failing and discouragement. If you skipped a day at the gym, don't go on a guilt trip about how your time was wasted and how your diet won't work anymore. This will only lead to guilty eating, and the cycle will perpetuate itself. (Are you seeing a trend here?) Instead, make it a point to eat extra healthy that day, or go to bed earlier so you can wake up for a quick morning workout the next day. Find ways to use your moments of weakness as learning moments for how to improve.
This is a difficult task for many, because we all know a hypochondriac in our lives (maybe it's you!). Sometimes we get so caught up in our daily routine that if even the smallest thing goes wrong, it feels like the end of the world. I am personally guilty of doing this, and find myself stressing out over small everyday things like traffic, for example. Next time you find yourself close to the boiling point, take a deep breath and think about why you’re getting angry. Though it seems like a simple practice, when you actually think of why it's making you upset, more times than not you will realize that it is trivial and you'll laugh at yourself and brush it off.
Though it may seem elementary and simple, many times it helps to pat yourself on the back when you do something to reinforce your positive thinking. Like I stated earlier, positive thoughts build upon each other, and by reinforcing your positive behavior your mind will be conditioned to lean towards those thoughts that produced the desirable outcome.
The most important take-away message from this is that your mindset is the most important because your thoughts drive your actions. Steer yourself in the correct path by thinking positively. If you start your day off by waking up on the wrong side of the bed, you will find that it's harder to turn your mood around. Find an inspirational quote that will get you going and jump start your positive thinking. One of my favorite quotes for getting things done is, “You know what helps you get closer? Start walking." Post your inspirational message on your bathroom mirror and repeat it to yourself over and over again as a part of your morning routine. You will be surprised at how much of a difference it makes throughout your day.