We all know that sometimes things can start to get you down. Whether it’s something in your personal life, the political climate in your country, or even a global issue, it can be almost impossible to stay positive all the time.
Self-help author, writer and speaker Anne Jones travels the world to spread her ideas on the things people can do to improve their own situations and stay positive.
“It’s based on things that I’ve experienced, and things I’ve seen work for other people,” she told Business Insider. “A lot of the time you can’t change people’s lives, but you can help them manage the circumstances they’re in.”
We spoke to Jones to come up with a list of tips you can use to protect yourself from the negativity in the world, especially when you’re starting to feel overwhelmed. Some of them might seem simple, but Jones says she’s seen the benefits some of these tricks can have first hand.
1. Avoid office gossip.
If you hear gossip at work, you should avoid it as best you can, Jones says. In fact, try and avoid any talking at work which is negative, be it about coworkers or world news.
“The worst thing you can do is to step into that and contribute,” Jones said. “The only thing you can do about that is to step back.”
She says that although it might be tempting to get into a debate, if you know it’s not going to end well, it’s best to avoid it altogether and get on with your work.
2. Create a mental bubble.
Your mind might have more power than you realise. You’ve probably heard of getting “in the zone” while you’re on a tight deadline, so creating a mental bubble or egg around yourself when you’re feeling a lot of negativity coming your way can be a version of that. Rather than letting negativity in, you can imagine an invisible barrier around yourself.
“We’ve got a really powerful will as individuals,” Jones said. “If we really set our intentional will to something, we can do all sorts of things. And just simply by saying, right, I’m sealing my energy off from the rest of the world, you can get into a bubble.”
You can practise getting into this frame of mind every day in the shower, Jones says, so you’re ready to conjure it up if someone starts being disrespectful or criticising.
3. Disengage from arguments.
It isn’t always possible, or even a good idea, to avoid arguments. When you’re in a relationship, disagreements are inevitable. It’s also nearly impossible not to meet people in everyday life you don’t particularly get along with. However, Jones says that when you can, you should take a step back and choose not to argue against what the other person is saying.
“You might feel exhilarated straight after the argument, but later on in the day your energy will plummet,” she said. “When you’ve had an emotional fight with your partner, you feel sick afterwards and your energy gets drained. You might think you’ve got one over on him…but then afterwards you think — was it really worth it?”
4. Delete negative people from social media.
Jones says that if you’ve got people on social media that are sending you negative stuff, or never seem to have anything good to say, just de-friend them.
“Be ruthless and think of yourself,” she said. “Are these people helping me? Are they lifting me up or are they not? If they’re not lifting me up, or at least keeping it neutral, get rid of them.”
Instead, surround yourself with positive people who make you feel good, off and online.
5. Don’t play the blame game.
Jones recommends you ask yourself a simple question if you find yourself fuming at something you saw in the news — does it affect you directly? If the answer is no, then it’s not your fault, and you should remember you have no influence over what is happening. Instead, focus on what or who you can help. Small gestures like buying someone a coffee can go a long way to brighten someone’s day. Knowing you’ve made a difference, however small, can boost your mood too.
6. Learn to laugh.
“Laughing at things has a huge effect too,” said Jones. “Whenever something goes wrong for me, I stamp around for a bit and then I start seeing the funny side of it.”
Once you’ve had a good rant about that person who undermined you at work, or how annoying your partner is being, learn to see the funny side. It helps to get together with a friend to talk, and they will help you make light of the situation.
“You have the will to throw light at something rather than be immersed in the darkness of it,” she said.
7. Burn the negativity.
Not everyone will be up for this one, but Jones says psychologically it can be very effective. What she says to do is make a list or write down something that has been bothering you on a piece of paper. You can even get your friends to do it as well. Then you burn it.
“You write it down, and you keep writing and you allow the emotions to flow, and then you burn it,” Jones said. “Burn the paper. Energetically you’re releasing it — clearing out everything that you hold onto from the past that holds fear and anxieties.”
8. Focus your thoughts on something positive.
“When you find yourself going into that downward spiral, doubting yourself, picking up fear about your future, anything of that nature, you can’t just say ‘I’m not going to allow myself to think like that,'” Jones said. “But what you can do is you can deliberately focus your thoughts onto something positive.”
After all, negative thoughts will bring you down. Things might seem difficult in this moment, but try and remind yourself of everything that’s good. Jones says she tends to think about holidays, good memories, the people she loves and things she enjoys to bring her mind back around to the positive.
“It’s a question of seeing the bigger picture of it all,” Jones said. “Sometimes we get so engrossed in the detail of our lives that it gets us down and overwhelmed. If you step back and look at the bigger picture, what does it really matter that much?”
9. Remember, you are in charge.
As well as with social media, you have to take responsibility for yourself in what newspapers you choose to read, or what programs you watch, or what activities you do. Choose things that make you feel good, because they will help when you feel like you need to shift your mind to positive things. Jones says you should remember that you are in charge of your thoughts and feelings, not the other way around.
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