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The importance of positive thinking during lockdown

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The importance of positive thinking during lockdown
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Traditionally, it’s the time of year for spring cleaning, but what if it’s not just your home that could do with a refresh this season?

The spring months can also be the perfect opportunity to take stock of what’s going on in your head, clear out any negative thought patterns, and make some space for optimism – and with the ongoing coronavirus crisis and its impact on our day-to-day lives, there’s never been a better time to shift your focus.

The power of positive thinking has been well documented. Lowri Dowthwaite, senior lecturer in psychological interventions at the University of Central Lancashire, says: “Being hopeful and optimistic for the future has been associated with better health and wellbeing.

“It helps to increase psychological resilience when dealing with hardship and it has also been suggested that increased optimism boosts our immune system.”

For many of us, it can feel difficult to suddenly become the eternal optimist though. But building a more positive mindset can be done, so where do you start?

Understand the impact of negativity

Firstly, it’s important to acknowledge the detrimental effects of negativity on the brain.

Niels Eek, a psychologist and co-founder of mental wellbeing platform Remente (, says: “That little voice inside your head is something we all have and listen to. If positive and motivating, that inner dialogue can contribute to self-love, confidence and happiness. However, if it is negative and used to reinforce limitations in our abilities, it can have serious implications for your mental wellbeing.”

He notes a 2017 study at Abilene Christian University, which “found a correlation between negative self-talk and an increase in stress levels, depression and anxiety”.

Identify your inner dialogue

While it’s unrealistic (and not necessarily healthy) to always be very positive, some small tweaks could make a big difference.

“This dialogue normally spills out in the language we use in our daily interactions as well so, if turning inwards initially feels scary, then start by exploring how you speak to those around you,” suggests Eek. “Do you use words like: I can’t, I won’t, it’s my fault, it’ll never happen to me? If so, then this is not serving you positively and you will need to start to reframe your inner narrative.”

He notes that according to Mayo Clinic, there are four main categories of negative self-talk: personalising (it’s me, not you), filtering (magnifying the negatives and ignoring the positives), catastrophising (anticipating the worst), and polarising (there’s only good or bad).

Flex the mental muscle

“Self-talk is a mental muscle,” says Eek, “meaning that, each time you allow it to tell you what it’s thinking, it is becoming stronger. If you allow your inner voice to repeatedly tell you what you, for example, do not have the capacity to do, then the negative self-talk will continue.”

He says reframing our mindsets “will create more headspace for positive thoughts. It involves changing your perspective of a certain situation to provide a more positive and meaningful outcome.”

Recognise when you’re jumping to conclusions

Dowthwaite notes that when we experience high levels of negative emotions – like anger, jealousy or fear – it’s very easy to jump to conclusions about whatever the situation is.

“When you do experience these emotions, it’s important to give yourself time and space to let everything settle. After this, you’ll be in a better position to take a step back from the situation and rationalise your thoughts,” she says.

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Positive Thinking

Snoop Dogg is helping donate 1 million vegan burgers to hospitals

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