Spring Into Spring! 5 Ways to Be More Optimistic & Reduce Stress! by Donna John
Despite more daylight in spring, our worries will still be there. So how do we spring into spring, a season that’s all about new beginnings and rebirth? For practical ways, to cultivate optimism in our lives we turned to Dr. Sanam Hafeez, a licensed clinical psychologist and the founder of Comprehensive Consultation Psychological Services, who shares these tips and tools.
- Focus on the good. “A daily exercise I often have my patients do is keep an appreciation or gratitude journal. When you focus on all the things to be happy for in your life then more great things come. Think generally and use your senses. What do you appreciate seeing, smelling, touching, tasting, listening to? Write it down. Within a few weeks you'll train the mind to pivot to an appreciate thought when a negative thought comes,” explains Dr. Hafeez.
- Make plans. Making plans to see relatives, to see a new exhibit a movie or to travel gets our mind moving forward towards something positive that we can be hopeful and optimistic about. Dr. Hafeez suggests making plans to do three things per month for the next three months.
- Control what you can, delegate the rest! “Figure out what needs to get done. What actions you can take. Then let go of anything else that is beyond your control with faith that everything will turn out fine. Envision the desired outcome,” advises Dr. Hafeez.
- Limit your news watching and avoid it before bed. “There is a very common pattern I see people falling into,” says Hafeez. “People awaken and immediately reach for their smartphone for news headlines. They then turn on the TV news as background noise. They listen to news in their cars, have news alerts going off on their phones all day, catch the evening news and then the 11 p.m. news before bed. No wonder they're less optimistic! What you choose to look at will impact your mood. Remember, good news doesn’t get ratings,” she adds.
- Distract yourself with something that requires focus. The key here is to pick something you truly enjoy doing and do it daily. It can be painting, coloring, yoga, a 20-minute walk or jog, listening to music and dancing around your living room. “When you are fully engaged in something, you can’t ruminate which leads to pessimism,” explains Dr. Hafeez.