Keeping a positive mindset can be difficult for most people. However, it is even harder for those of us with mental health challenges. Although it is impossible to avoid negativity completely, (whether that be from friends, colleagues, or the media), we can do a few simple things to help counterbalance it. The best way to guard against
Why Positivity is Powerful and Important
Learning to cultivate positivity is a powerful tool to have in your mental health tool kit. The reason for this is because when we feel low, our perception shifts to focus on negativity. Feeling low means it is easier to take on board the negativity which then can lower our mood further. By finding ways to bring positivity into our daily life, it’s possible to switch our perception, from the negative to the positive. Positive things make us smile and smiling lifts our mood. Therefore, we can stop that downward mood spiral that focusing on the negative causes.
How to Create a Positive Environment
There are several ways we can create feelings of positivity. In this blog, I will share the tips I have used to make the space around me into a positive environment. Please note, clicking the links within this blog will mean I earn a little commission, but this is of no cost to you, and I would never suggest something I had not first tried myself). By the immediate environment, I mean the following spaces :
- Living space – Your home, or room in which you spend most of your time
- Online space – Your social media platforms, pages, and groups
- Social space – Your friends and social
Creating a Positive Living Space
The immediate physical space where you live has the most significant impact on your mood. Where you get up every morning and where you go to bed, in turn, affects how you feel. It is crucial that your living space is one where you feel comfortable, nurtured and relaxed. You do not have to live in a palace with the latest design features from ‘Homes on demand’, (or whatever the latest TV program is that only ever serves to make our self-esteem plummet). Even the most basic dwelling can be turned into a positive environment. Trust me, I have achieved this in a tent. The following simple touches can make the biggest difference in your mood.
Keep it Tidy
They do say that a tidy place equals a tidy mind and there is a lot of truth in that. I can tell the state of my mental health by the mess that surrounds me. Even if you are having a low day, you don’t have to be a cleaning diva to make things a little tidier. The simple act of shuffling papers into a pile, picking up the tissues off the floor, or sweeping the mess of the bedside table into a tub or basket, can make the world of difference.
Soothe your S
Our senses are linked to our mood, so making our living space smell inviting can, in turn, lift our mood. Different fragrances can calm us or energize us and thus turn out environment into a positive one. It is best to steer away from harsh chemicals (as who knows what these chemicals are doing to our mood!). I do use incense sticks on occasion, but I like to make sure there is nothing nasty in them. I prefer using a wax burner, for which you can buy wax melts of all different fragrances. Recently I began using an essential oil diffuser. A diffuser plugs into the mains and slowly warms essential oils and releases the vapor into the air. I find this incredibly soothing when I am stressed, and it helps to keep my mood positive.
Affirmations and Quotes
I love quotes and affirmations because they help to make me smile and to remind me about what is important in life. I have all my favorite quotes in places I can see them and its surprising how simply walking past one and noticing it, can change a negative mood into a positive one.
One of my favorite positivity tools is my gratitude wall. I began using this a few years ago and it really does help to make a positive environment. As you can see, I decorate the wall with string lights, and then hang pictures and positive quotes from it. When I am feeling negative, looking at this reminds me that I am loved, that I have had some fantastic times and that everything passes.
Keeping your Online Space Positive
The Internet can be either a negative experience or a positive one, but it’s up to us to make it one way or the other. There are lots of different ways you can make sure your online space is
Use the Mute Button
The simplest way to keep your online space a positive one is to unfriend pages or people, who share in negative ways. However, sometimes our own friends can be posting things that make us feel uncomfortable, but we don’t want to unfriend them and upset them. In this case, Facebook has a wonderful tool for this. which allows you to unfollow someone’s post or mute them for a short period. The person will not know you have done this, and you can change the settings again when you are in a better mental state if you wish.
Walk Away from Drama
Social media can also be a hub for drama, and this is especially the case for us in the trans community. It is always best to avoid getting sucked into these black holes but especially important when our mental health isn’t great. Don’t engage, just mute for now and walk away.
Join Supportive Groups and Pages
There is plenty of positivity online once you start looking for it. For example, there are loads of support groups for various things and I really recommend these. However, the same tips apply, choose ones that as drama free as possible. There are also lots of pages with motivational quotes and mental health tips. I love these and subscribe and follow a lot of them. The reason
Making your Social Group A positive Environment
Having mental health challenges can make it difficult to be sociable. Therefore, it is crucial that when we can get out and spend time with people, that those people are friends who uplift us. Sometimes, we have friends who we love, but we can find challenging when we are low. Therefore, as hard as it is, we must look after ourselves and move away from them. It is important to do this, for the sake of our health and in order to make sure our social space is positive environment for us to socialize in.
Set Personal Boundaries
Learning to move away from people who are not good for us is a difficult but vital skill for good mental health. As people with mental health challenges we often do two things. First, we overcompensate, and we say yes when we should say
Walk Away from Unhealthy Relationships and Friend Groups
The best thing you can do to create a healthy social environment, is to sift through your friends and stick with the ones who love you and support you no matter what state you’re in and move away from the ones that don’t.
I learned this early on in my recovery from addiction. I had to move away from certain friends because otherwise, I could have ended up drinking again. Its human to want to help people but sometimes, like with an oxygen mask on the plane, we must help ourselves first. Walking away with love, is often the best thing we can do, for ourselves and other people.
By following these suggestions, you’ll be off to a great start in giving yourself the gift of a positivity buffer. Doing so will help to cushion you from all the inevitable stresses in life.
Have fun creating our own positive environment and do let me know how you get on!
Finlay Games is the founder of The Recovery Writer and the host of Finntheinfinncible. He is a freelance writer and speaker for hire, who advocates, informs and inspires on topics of mental health, recovery, gender transition, and sexuality.