Every person wants to feel good, to be happy, to manage effectively their life situations or problems, but many times people are at the mercy of their negative thoughts and emotions and their emotional disposition gets to deteriorate with every day that passes.
For the shorter or longer periods of time when you don’t feel so good, as if a dark cloud is following you, I give you the following suggestions:
1.Make a habit of having positive emotions:
- Make a list of all the things you like which you can do now in the present circumstances of your life;
- Choose from that list one thing to do each day to increase the frequency of your positive emotions;
- Act differently from how you have acted so far - for example, instead of avoiding the thing that causes you fear, face it every time until the fear disappears. If you are angry, instead of reacting impulsively, take a moment, breathe, go for a walk, change your body posture. If you feel jealous and you have the urge to spy, to follow, to control, to hold accountable, stop doing that at least once and act differently. See what happens. If you feel sad, instead of isolating yourself and feeling sorry for yourself, go out, do activities that make you feel competent and confident, play sports to change your mental state. If you feel ashamed of something, instead of hiding it, confess it to a close person or even publicly. Shame disappears when we talk about those things that we feel ashamed of. Keeping a secret is what makes us think we have done a terrible thing and most of the time only we find it so terrible because of our distorted perceptions. If we have really made a mistake, we take the consequences, we look for ways to fix the situation if we can, we learn from our mistakes and we make sure we don’t repeat them again;
- Be present now, enjoy the beautiful moments when they are happening - notice when your mind wanders to the negative and consciously refocus your attention to the present moment instead of thinking whether you deserve or not to be happy and to enjoy life, or what "catastrophe" will happen after.
- Start now to do those changes that will help you build the life you want;
- Identify what is really important to you, your values;
- Choose one of these things that is currently more important than others and set a goal to make the desired changes. For example, to be more productive, to improve your social skills, to travel, to eat healthier etc.;
- Make a plan and identify small action steps towards your goal;
- Take one action step now, and then take the second one, the third one until you achieve your goal.
2. Do things that make you feel competent and effective to diminish the sense of helplessness and to increase your confidence. You can start with simpler things, and gradually increase the difficulty over time. Before acting, plan for success, not failure.
3. When you know that you are going to face a stressful situation or one that has the potential to emotionally destabilize you - instead of reacting automatically, think ahead what is the most appropriate approach and imagine what you will think, how you will feel and how you will behave in that situation. Establish in advance a plan where your approach is rational and constructive so that you can better control and manage the situation.
4. Give yourself plenty of time for rest, relaxation and fun - we often get caught up in the alert rhythm of life, we have tasks to do, to solve problems, to meet deadlines, and stress is already part of our daily life. Time passes and at some point we get to feel worse and worse, maybe we start to get sick frequently, we have insomnia, we feel inexplicably tired, or we get cranky out of the blue. And it’s no wonder. We need to give ourselves some time, to charge our batteries, to unwind, to have fun. And these are not a luxury but a necessity. Otherwise, we will end up exhausted, and our efficiency and productivity will significantly deteriorate. And what will we do then? A sustained, balanced and constant effort is what helps us achieve our goals, whether personal or professional. Repeated excesses don’t do good to anyone.
5. Distance yourself from toxic people, those people who try to manipulate you, who are constantly judging and criticizing you, who make you feel guilty about their feelings and problems, who don’t respect your personal limits and boundaries, who complain all the time about anything and find a problem for any solution, or who, directly or indirectly, try to undermine your achievements and make you doubt yourself.
What I have written above are just a few examples that can help us improve our emotional well-being. The list remains open because, as many problems as there are, there are more solutions to each problem. What do you think would help you feel better about yourself, about your life?
Dr. Ursula Sandner