According to the recently released Gallup World Emotions Report, Americans are among the most stressed and worried people in the world at 55% and 45%, respectively. Causes for these negative emotions include workplace pressures, especially for women and working moms; increased competition within companies, schools and universities; frightening news events; political upheaval; and an overuse of social media and technology.
Now more than ever it’s important to prioritize health and well-being to overcome these statistics and help create a brighter, healthier and happier future for our country. While stress is an inevitable part of life, it can be managed effectively with the right tools.
Following are five ways to leverage positive psychology to decrease stress and anxiety and increase happiness and well-being.
• Practice mindfulness regularly. Focus on centering your mind in the present moment, being grateful and breathing during mindfulness activities that work best for you. Some examples include meditation, yoga, spending time in nature, walking or running. Mindfulness is generally very personal to each individual, which is why it’s important to find the types of activities that will not only help you get centered, but also that you find enjoyable.
• Use positive visualization. Picture in your mind that you’re working through challenges and creating successful outcomes in your life. Visualize a relaxing place near the ocean, mountains or forest and allow this imagery to be very vivid in your mind. Think about being happy and safe with your loved ones. These types of visualizations can help you feel calmer, more relaxed and hopeful.
• Focus on your strengths. If you’re working or attending school in a competitive environment, stay focused on your own strengths and capabilities instead of your weaknesses or what others are doing. Build your confidence by leveraging your strengths in your work on a daily basis. When you feel strong and capable, it can ward off fears, worries, comparisons and negative thought patterns.
• Practice healthy intentions and habits. Focus on getting at least seven to eight hours of sleep each night, eating nutritious foods and exercising three to five days per week to help combat stress and anxiety and increase your overall sense of well-being. Create strong intentions to make these healthy habits a regular part of your life for mental, emotional and physical strength.
• Build resilience. Take your stresses, worries and negative energy and channel them into action through productive activities, positive thoughts and connecting with others. And even if setbacks or other frustrating situations arise, learn from them and keep moving forward. This will allow you to build resilience and the ability to take on whatever comes your way.
Leveraging these tools and practicing them on a regular basis can help put you in control of your state of mind and help you approach life more confidently and happily.
Reena Vokoun is founder of the Los Altos-based Passion Fit, a health, wellness and fitness lifestyle company. Passion Fit offers online courses, one-on-one or group wellness consulting, activewear, wellness retreats, workshops and speaking engagements, videos, a blog and fitness and dance classes 9 a.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays at Areté Dance Center in Los Altos. For more information, visit passionfit.com.