There are certain behaviours and strategies which can help ensure that your days go more smoothly. Obviously you can only affect those areas that you control but you will find by altering your mind-set and changing certain habits you also influence and affect those around you.
1) Your mind-set: When you wake up tell yourself you are going to have a good day. Your mind leads your mood and you can “decide” to be more positive and greet difficulties with a view to solving them rather than just bemoaning them. If you think you can – you can and if you think you can’t – you can’t. A positive mind-set will help in almost any situation.
2) Treat yourself well: Get enough sleep, exercise and rest. Eat well; if you fill yourself with junk you will feel lousy. Make sure you eat good quality food and don’t rely on sugar/caffeine/alcohol boosts as they have a nasty habit of wearing off and leaving you feeling tired and grumpy.
3) Look around you. Make eye contact with others and smile. This is a very easy way to connect with your environment and neighbours. If you walk to work/the shops/your friends with your head down you have no opportunity to connect with other humans. We are group animals and thrive when we recognise others and are recognised by them. Connections with others wards off depression (Weiss, RS, 1974)
4)Try not to multi-task excessively. Of course we all need to do several things at once sometimes but it is far better for us and more rewarding to concentrate on one thing at a time. This is how we get into a here and now frame of mind and allow ourselves to relax and enjoy the task in hand. This creates immersion and flow which is when time flies and we find ourselves lost in the moment (Maslow, AH, 1973)
5) Don’t worry. Worrying is a completely pointless waste of energy. With any issue, do everything you can to resolve it and improve it and then shelve it. If you have exams, study hard, do past papers and then relax, knowing you have prepared well. The same for a job interview or a bank loan – do your homework, be prepared and then relax. Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.
6) Try not to globalise. By this I mean when something happens, realise it is a one off and may have happened regardless of your efforts. For instance if you go for a job interview, have prepared well but don’t get the job, a globalised response would be “I’m no good at interviews, nobody will ever employ me.” A local response, by contrast, would be “I’m quite young for this position, I guess I didn’t quite fit the bill. I’m going to redo my CV and approach a different firm.” Don’t let yourself use globalising words such as never, always, nightmare, horrendous – these are usually a great exaggeration of the position you find yourself in and will convince you that you need to worry.
7) Notice the small, free, things and occurrences that can enhance your day. The sunshine, a rainbow, flowers, birds, a neighbour’s friendly cat, a smiling person on the train, newly mown grass smells. Whatever things you like and bring you joy, make sure you actually notice them and they will enhance your days.
8) Do something altruistic. Good deeds or kind actions actually make you feel good and are associated with better health (UK Mental Health Foundation 2017). When you do something good of your own volition and unasked you send a little piece of your good will on into the world. This encourages a “pay it forward” mentality, where we help others whenever the opportunity arises and then when we need help it will be available to us.
9) Review your day and think of three things that went well or that you enjoyed. It has been shown that people who show gratitude every day for 30 days have improved mental health and are more content. A study published in The Journal of Research into Personality (2008) showed that practicing gratitude lowered stress and raised contentment. There are always things to be grateful for and focusing on these is good for you.
10) Before bed, wind down and shut off mobiles and computers in order to give your brain a chance to switch off and get ready for bed. Finally, if there is anything on your mind, write it down. If necessary keep a pad and pen beside the bed. Too many thoughts churning round or things we have to remember for the next day can keep us awake. Unload onto paper and sleep well.
Weiss, RS (1974) The Provision of Social Relationships
Maslow, AH (1973) The Farther Reaches of Human Nature P.45, Harmondsworth: Penguin
Gratitude, Journal of Research into Personalities (2008)