Master Your Mindset

By Tonja Dodd
Woman looking into camera to frame a healthy mindset - Vitality

Today’s health, economic and social issues are taking an emotional toll on people across the country. In fact, according to a recent study that assessed the stress of Americans, 73% state they are overwhelmed by the number of crises facing the world right now.

Your mindset makes a difference and can help frame your day. Ready to master your mindset? Give these three tips a try.

Re-think your outlook

First, re-think your outlook and openly accept change with grace. This may seem like a tall order, but when you accept the things you cannot change, you’ll have a more peaceful state of mind. Many times, there are things that we cannot control in life, but we can control the way that we react to them.

Try these three things:

  1. Pay attention to what you are thinking and feeling
  2. Focus on the present and take one step at a time
  3. If you have an obstacle to get through, put a goal in place with some steps to make it achievable

But when you truly grieve what used to be and accept that our world is different, you can begin to have a fresh outlook. The grieving process may be a process with ups and downs as the news is continuously changing. Accept that change is inevitable, and times are uncertain. Think of uncertain times as an opportunity.

Some people find stressful situations and crises a reason to “pause” and reflect – you may find that too. It might be a time to find your purpose, or you may find it’s a time to re-connect with those who are close to you. It may be a time to slow down and actively listen and give quality time to your loved ones.

Others have found that times of crises to be a “calling” – they feel the need to help others and turn their feelings of helplessness into a giving mindset. They consider challenging times as an opportunity to tap into their strengths and care for others. This may be you too.

When you view uncertain times as an opportunity to do self-exploration or offer your strengths to others, you’ll find it easier to face the uncertainties.

Live in the now

Next, live in the now and remind yourself of your convictions. Focus your thoughts and energy on what you can control – not on the past or the future. When you start to ruminate on the past, worry about the future or about things you cannot control, you’ll find yourself feeling stressed, anxious and eventually unraveled.

Remember, you can control who you are, your attitude and your own behaviors. You can control the kindness and grace you show others. You can control your news intake which helps limit the stress you’re exposed to – and you can stick to a daily routine which can keep you grounded and may provide a sense of normalcy. Focus on those things.

Let go of the things you cannot control and try not to ruminate and pass judgement on or think that you can control the actions of others. Remind yourself you cannot predict the future either.

When you focus on the now, acknowledge each moment whether good or bad. Find ways to appreciate today for all that is good in it and mourn the moments that are tough.

Take action

Finally, take action. When you act, your emotions and mindset will follow. Proactively connect with others, be physically active and engage in mental fitness practices.

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. Go out and get busy.”  -Dale Carnegie

When you do connect in person, be sure and follow local guidelines as different regions are in different stages of the pandemic. When you build a strong social network of friends and family, your resilience to stress is strengthened and your ability to deal with stressful situations and anxiety is enhanced. Having strong connections with a few people is all you need.

Physical activity is also very important in maintaining your mental fitness and keeping your head in the game. Being active produces happy hormones, boosts your mood, reduces feelings of anxiety and depression, and promotes overall mental wellness. Aim for 150 minutes or more of moderate to intense physical activity every week.

Other activities that can help exercise your mind and promote a sense of calmness include engaging in a creative endeavor or a hobby, immersing yourself in nature, and participating in mindfulness or meditation. The possibilities are endless.

They say that tough times don’t last, but tough people do. Take the leap and get started today, as it’s that first step that can be the toughest.

Tonja Dodd, MPH, is a Senior Health Strategy Analyst at Vitality Group where she translates clinical guidelines into risk appropriate health promotion strategies to engage members in healthy behaviors. Her background is in public health with 25 years of experience designing, developing and delivering health and wellness programs and products. Tonja finds her healthy place is being active outdoors and spending time with family, friends and pets.

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