Negative thoughts have a way of taking over, especially when we are having a tough time with one or more aspects of our lives, and it can be really difficult to stop them. Changing our thought patterns to be more positive can be easier said than done, however, with practice, it can become our default. Many of us are faced with stressful transitions right now, so we wanted to share a few tips to help to build on strategies to support more positive thinking for ourselves and the kids in our lives.
Reframe: I had originally written the above sentence to read: we wanted to share a few tips to help stop negative thinking. When I reflected on the reframe concept, I realized I could choose a more positive way to voice the same message. Reframing to focus on positive can seem tricky at first… let’s try a few to see how easy it can be! Something like, “This is impossible” can become, “I can figure out how to do this!” and if we are feeling like “No one understands me” perhaps concentrate who cares about us and change the thought to, “My friends care about me and try to understand me” or even, “If I try to explain how I feel, maybe people will understand me better.” Whatever the challenging thought, if we consider it more closely, we can usually find a way to reframe it to focus on the positive.
Take ownership: There are things we all do that contribute to the outcomes, even when they aren’t what we had hoped for. Teaching our kids to be accountable for their role in a situation can help them to find solutions to create better outcomes in the future. It also builds character and demonstrates the value of vulnerability. Try not to dwell on a negative cause and focus instead on future opportunities.
Smile: Research shows that the act of smiling actually helps us feel better, and when we share those with others in our lives (even strangers walking past us), it helps to spread positive energy. We all need this right now, so be generous with your smiles and see how it makes you feel.
Sing: Ok, so not all of us can sound like a recording artist, but singing can be incredibly therapeutic… and it can also put a smile on the face of those within earshot! (Even if it comes with a cringe 😊)
Help someone: Research also shows that doing something for someone else fosters positive self esteem in ourselves, creates a sense of connection and purpose, and generally feels good. Find something to do together to help out. And if you are looking for an option, join us in the upcoming Scotiabank Virtual Charity Challenge and Run Myles Ahead! (email us for more info)
Celebrate: Building on the concept of not dwelling on the negative, be sure to take time to celebrate the successes – no matter how small they are. Acknowledging and rewarding the positive encourages more positive behaviours and outcomes.
Practice gratitude: Sometimes it is hard to find things to be grateful for, but those are the times when we need gratitude the most. Feeling grateful helps us to feel valued, focus on the positive, and enhance our sense of wellbeing. Often in our most trying times, we can find beauty in the things and people we are grateful for. This is something I try to practice daily and find incredibly powerful.
Some of these tips may sound familiar, but it may help to be reminded of these simple strategies during times like these!
For Children: This short animated video helps children to learn how to change their negative perceptions into more positive ones.
For Youth: Activities that teach teenagers a positive attitude should be part of their daily routines. Here are five activities that your teen can do to improve his/ her attitude.
For Caregivers: Practical and fun strategies to help your child learn the benefits of having a positive outlook.
For Educators: Enhance your practical optimism through focusing on the upside, gratitude, small acts of kindness, emotional mindfulness, brain and body exercise, and positive surroundings.