Giving a Voice to the Silence offers positive angles to the issue that faces those with mental illness. Living with Schizo-Affective Disorder and being able to share my experiences with others, is the best way I know how to pay it forward. Life can be difficult, my goal is to bring a bit of hope to a place where many feel there is none.

Monday, April 20, 2015

P is for Positivity

I am always looking for quotes or songs that stand out and put into words what I am not able to say myself.  I have recently done some research on staying positive and how it affects mental health and I was surprised to see how many studies have been done on this subject and how much I have learn.
It has been shown that negative thoughts have the ability to lower our moods, affect our actions and even our overall health.  

The goal is to become optimistic and focus on the positive things in life as much as possible. This does not mean that negative thoughts will completely go away or that we will never have them, it is simply a way to combat them and live a better life.  I have worked on this for many years and it does work, it takes time and practice but in the end the benefits are well worth it.

  • Write!  Journaling is one of the top tools used in therapy and for people, in general, when it comes to getting thoughts out of our minds and on paper where it can make more sense to us.  By seeing the written words, we are able to absorb them and we can envision a plan or goal more clearly.

  • Exercise:  A simple walk around the block is enough to boost your energy and clear your mind.  Exercise 20 minutes a day at least a few days a week can help you feel better as well.

  • The SilverLining:  It may sound like some overused psycho-babble, but finding the positive in a negative situation, but it can show how you may have grown or changed because of a particular situation.  Ask yourself what you may be gained from the experience, not only personally, but within your relationships as well.

  • Practice Gratitude:  Practicing gratitude once again brings us to writing.  Keeping a gratitude journal can help you see the good things, whether they are big or small, that are happening in your life.  Writing letters to those who may have helped you through a tough situation, or even sharing good news with friends, helps us see the good that is in our lives.  

  •  Lastly, Avoid Negative Thinking:  This is the most difficult one to tackle, and the reason I no longer watch the news at night.  The negativity that is broadcast is enough to ruin a good day.  In a study of those taking tests, those who focused on negative thoughts had lower scores than those were more focused on the positive. 

These techniques are by no means easy and will not stop all negativity and make you an instant positive person, but it is a starting point.  I, myself, use journaling a lot in my attempt to become more positive and combat the negativity and challenges of my illness.   

There is another practice used by therapists and their patients when thoughts become overwhelming and anxiety is not controlled.  I call it the “snap method.”  Simply put, a rubber band is worn and every time an intrusive thought comes to mind or you start ruminating, you snap the band.  This is to remind you and bring you back to the present.  It may seem extreme like I said, but it works. 

How do you stay positive on a daily basis?  What tips or techniques can you share?

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