6 Tips to Get into a Positive Mindset

Have you ever felt stuck? Like you’ve hit a wall? Maybe stuck in a ditch and can’t get out? You are not alone. According to a study cited by Harvard Business Review:

“76% of full-time U.S. workers reported experiencing at least one symptom of a mental health condition in the past year, and over a third of symptoms cumulatively lasted five months to an entire year.”

It may feel comforting to know that we aren’t alone in our struggles, but what can we D.O. about it? How can we get shift our mindset from negative to positive? Here’s what often helps me.

Ask yourself, “why?” Simon Sinek, author, and inspirational speaker, believes that every successful change begins with why – whether that’s a new job, new relationship, or a new mindset. It’s essential to be clear about why you are starting a new path – and it’s equally as important to ensure you revisit that why when you’re feeling discouraged along the way. Starting a new path is never easy, and when you’re tempted to look back, it’s ideal to refer back to the “why” and keep moving forward.

Start. And start small. Yes, this is two separate steps in one. It may seem silly to note that you have to start down that new path, but committing yourself and taking action is a big deal. Brené Brown, researcher, author, and podcast host captures this step so well: “Sometimes the bravest and most important thing you can do is just show up.” Once you show up, start with small steps. There is a purpose in starting small; not only can you prevent yourself from overwhelm, but more importantly, it gives you the opportunity for little victories that can build your momentum.

Take a break. I realize this doesn’t come naturally to many. As I’ve said before, unfortunately, we live in a society where skipping a lunch break is a sign of dedication. But the reality is, that skipping lunch breaks – and other breaks throughout the day – is not helping us. Forbes recently covered some of this research. While nearly 90% of us say taking a lunch break helps us feel refreshed and ready to return to work – we worry our bosses won’t think we’re hardworking if we take lunch breaks, and another 13% worry our co-workers will judge us. If you’re a manager, you have an opportunity to set an example and encourage your employees. Small breaks throughout the day are equally important (Hint: check out the Pomodoro Technique – summarized in this image by Todoist.)

Create new habits. A habit is not a routine. A habit is nearly effortless – something we do on autopilot. A routine, on the other hand, takes dedication and consistency. Here’s an example: I want to start waking up earlier to build time for exercise in my day. At first, when my alarm goes off in the morning, it’s going to feel really difficult not to hit the snooze button. But if I persist over time and make that my routine, eventually, it will become easier, and it will just become something I do without much thought. At that point, it becomes a habit. I highly recommend checking out Harvard Business Review’s “What Does it Really Take to Build a New Habit?” It’s great to get clarity on the process, but what habit will you pursue? Three big picture categories are proven to be an asset for feeling more positive –

    • Breathe – Seems easy enough, right? Learning to focus on breathing deeply and correctly (yes, there is a right way to breathe) is significant! Good news, I covered this in a previous post called “Take a Breath.”
    • Meditation and prayer – This is true quiet time (even if it’s brief) when you are focused on clearing your mind (hint: deep breathing can help!). In prayer, take it further and share your struggles with God.
    • Exercise – This can be as simple as a walk or as intense as a session at the gym.
    • Learn something new – Try a new hobby or educate yourself on a new skill.

Reward yourself. Behavior researcher Katherine Milkman has found “temptation bundling” to be successful. Essentially you bundle a source of instant gratification (a few minutes of scrolling social media, an episode of your favorite show/podcast) with an activity that is not so fun but good for you (a workout session, doing chores).

Connect with others. Believe it or not, there is truth to “misery loves company.” Connecting might be opening up about your negativity with a family member or friend who can give some perspective – it could also be volunteering your time to help others. When we can lend a hand and help someone else, it has a positive impact on our sense of meaning.

No one loves negativity. I hope you can find the motivation to begin changing course (a victory in itself!)  and get on the road to a more positive mindset.