Keeping a positive outlook toward life is great, but so is being honest when stuff really isn’t going your way. Use these five strategies for mental balance.
Your mindset determines how your entire life unfolds. But the current push to “just be positive” can be almost as unhealthy as a negative approach to life.
A bright and shiny outlook on things is excellent! The cup is always half full! There’s a silver lining around every cloud!
Sometimes, though, we just need to accept that we have bad days, too. And those feelings are valid, even though they’re not sparkly and happy.
When you can balance your outlook to accept your emotions, no matter what they are, it makes you healthier overall.
Let mental balance, not permanent positivity, be your goal, and use these tips to help you achieve it.
1. Embrace the Quiet Time
In our go-go-go society, quiet time can be scary. It might seem like you need to fill any downtime with something productive, or you’re slacking. If it’s not productive, it’s social media scrolling or mindless TV binging to pass the time.
The past two decades of generations have grown up with immediate access to entertainment. Gone are the days of road trips with license plate spotting and I Spy games.
In short, our imaginations and abilities to think for ourselves are disappearing. The skill of processing our painful emotions is also eroding, along with these essential parts of humanity.
Who has to sit and feel their discomforts and deal with their problems when they can play Candy Crush instead?
But that’s exactly what you should be doing if you want to have balance in your mind and your life. Seek out time in your day to be by yourself on purpose.
Meditation and yoga are two ways to practice mindfulness for mental clarity. If sitting in silence isn’t your thing, journaling has a lot of benefits, too.
When you reconnect with the quiet space in your head, you’ll also get your imagination and empathy back.
2. Be Careful What You Feed Your Mind
Just like the food you eat, what you feed your brain matters. The music you listen to and the TV you watch affect your mood, even if you don’t realize it.
Think about the last time you heard your favorite upbeat song.
Did it perk you up and make you feel like moving?
Music connects us with our emotions, and movies work similarly. There’s something about a sad song or plotline that tugs at our heartstrings and happy scenes and lyrics boost our moods.
Too much of one genre serves as the only fuel you’re feeding your mind. Be cautious of horror movies, heavy or death metal, hard rap, and other media styles that can be negative.
Another cautionary area is that of the internet, particularly social media. It’s one of the biggest culprits of mental stress. Limit your time in this vortex, or take a break entirely if you’re feeling unbalanced.
3. Schedule Face-to-Face Social Time
Humans are social creatures, even if you’re an introvert by nature. Too much isolation, no matter how much you love being alone, is not healthy.
That’s why social media is so attractive to billions of users. It gives us a connection, however faulty it may be, with others. The problem is that unless it’s face-to-face, it’s not filling that need for real communication.
We all must have someone in our lives to rally our emotions; someone we connect with on more than a superficial level.
To stay mentally balanced, schedule time in your week to recharge with whoever you enjoy being around. If you can’t meet in person, use a video app like Zoom, FaceTime, or Messenger to chat.
That face-to-face aspect is crucial to giving you the (mostly) whole social connection.
4. Use Strategies to Knock Out Negative Thoughts
Social media is full of “inspirational” tips on being positive and keeping a stiff upper lip. These suggestions can be a double-edged sword, though. They often serve to make people think there’s something wrong with them if they aren’t always happy.
The truth is that we all have negative thoughts. It’s impossible to be rosy 100% of the time. What you do with them, though, is the crucial part.
Psychologists suggest that when you allow negative thinking to rule your brain, it creates a neural pathway that becomes your default pattern. Like your muscles, you have to exercise positive thinking to strengthen them.
Some of these strategies can help you balance the pathways in your brain:
- Every time you catch yourself thinking something negative, come up with a positive way to rephrase the thought.
- Learn positive affirmations and repeat them every time you begin to think negatively.
- Laugh at yourself when you make a mistake instead of going straight to the embarrassment or problems that might come with it.
- Try to find the silver lining. It’s cliche, but if you can stretch your mind to come up with something good out of a problem, it does help.
Over time, you’ll begin to think more neutrally and balanced when you get used to using these strategies.
5. Set and Keep Boundaries
Boundary setting is crucial if you want to stay balanced mentally. Yet this simple protective strategy is such a hot-button topic and so difficult for many people to put into action.
Shifting your perspective might help you realize the importance and ease of creating limits in your life. Boundaries aren’t there to keep others out. They’re to keep your mental health in place.
When you set clear boundaries, other people know where your limits are. They can choose to attempt to cross them or not, but if they do, they know there will be consequences.
But if you don’t set those boundaries, or you’re vague and wishy-washy with them, others don’t know when they’re stepping over the line. When you inevitably get upset, they’re confused, and rightly so.
Still, boundary setting is an art that you must approach carefully in order for it to work. Find an online guide or book that walks you through your own unique needs so you can find your limits. Then, come up with an action plan to enforce your boundaries.
Unlike many motivational quotes, the goal of a healthy mind isn’t to always look on the bright side. It’s to have a balance between problems and solutions — negative and positive.
With these tips, you can reach that Goldilocks level of “just right” with your own mental balance.
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