Lydia, from Carers Leeds, shares her top tips for building a more positive mindset in our caring roles.
Creating a positivity toolkit for the everyday
Nobody feels positive 365 days of the year, even wellness gurus! In fact, it’s far healthier that we allow ourselves to feel all the feelings. But there are things we can do, to support our mindset to shift into a more positive frame.
In a busy caring role, we face many daily obstacles and challenges that can sometimes lead to negative thoughts. Building a more positive mindset framework can build our resilience, by helping the brighter days to outweigh the darker ones. Helping us to notice at least a little light in the everyday.
This isn’t about saying ‘just be positive’ – we all know that doesn’t work and is rather infuriating to hear!
"It is about developing great habits that allow us to notice the small, good moments, shifting the balance in how we feel."
Six ways to build a more positive mindset
There are several tools or habits that can support us to have a more positive mindset. It’s about finding something that works for each of us. It’s also about committing ourselves to giving a new habit a good shot. Giving a new habit long enough, so that we can really start to feel the benefit from it.
Here are just a few suggestions, all of which take very little time each day.
1. Keep a gratitude journal
Gratitude journaling is the practice of actively writing down the things we are grateful for. All we need is a notebook and pen. We can just use any kind of notebook, or maybe it’s a great opportunity to treat ourselves. There are some lovely options at Papier which include some gratitude prompts.
We start each day by writing down three things we are grateful for every morning. Noticing how that makes us feel. Noticing any shift in our feelings, by simply pausing to notice the good stuff.
If we find our minds going blank, that’s OK - it’s a new habit. Start small. How about being grateful for a perfect cup of coffee in peace? The more we practice, the easier it gets.
And soon, we’ll find ourselves filling half a page!
For journaling inspiration, blogger Lucy Moon talks about her experience journaling on YouTube.
2. Tap into uplifting quotes
Reading a quote that perfectly captures our feelings can provide a really powerful moment. But how can we come across quotes that can help?
Why not treat ourselves to an uplifting book? Carve some time out of our day, to sit down and take the time to replenish with an uplifting read, such as a mindfulness book like The Little Book of Calm. We can make a note of any particular favourites quotes in our journal. For more suggestions of uplifting reads, check out ‘Seven Books a Carer Should Read’.
If we’re on social media, then adding inspiring content to our feed is very easy. It can shift everyday thought patterns almost without us noticing. Instagram has lots of accounts that focus purely on uplifting content. Why not screenshot quotes we find most relatable and save them to an album on our phone. That way, we can quickly remind ourselves when we need to.
Here are some instagram accounts that focus on uplifting content to get us started:
3. Affirmation card decks
There are plenty of affirmation or positivity card decks around, and with different themes. It can be helpful to start our day by selecting one card and reading it out loud. Repeating the affirmation throughout the day, and keeping the card with us during the day.
Gabrielle Bernstein’s card decks are full of positive affirmations such as
"My power lies in my peaceful presence."
On a stressful day, having that card tucked in our purse or pocket can empower us to find a moment of calm.
The Blurt Foundation, who work to increase awareness and understanding of depression, also publish useful card packs.
They have some great themed packs, such as:
54 Reasons Why You Matter Card Pack
54 Cards For Press Pause Moments
54 Kind Cards For Unkind Days
4. Slow down
It is so easy to rush through the day and react quickly to situations. And when we react without stopping to think, we can sometimes overreact. Although quick reactions are certainly necessary at times. But if the situation is not critical, let’s slow down and digest the facts before we respond. Saving ourselves from perhaps an unnecessary rise in un-beneficial emotions.
Here are some tools we can use in moments of stress, to help us process before we react:
Pause. Take some deep breaths.
Ask ourselves, does it matter? or Why is this bothering me? Sometimes the answer is surprising.
Take five minutes outside listening to nature.
Sing along to our favourite song.
Write down our thoughts and feelings in our journal.
Call someone whose advice we trust.
Practice meditation with the Headspace App.
"I like the pause, that tea allows" - Waris Ahluwalia
If we still feel the same, we can then at least respond from a place of reasoned emotion, and not just emotion. And we will have saved ourselves an initial avalanche of un-beneficial feelings.
5. Connect with others
It can be a battle to stay upbeat when we feel alone – and we all need to ask for support at times. Speaking to others in similar positions can help alleviate feelings of isolation.
Mobilise run online daily virtual cuppas for carers. Or we could join a local group via our own carers centre. For example, Carers Leeds run lots of online events, as do other organisations around the country.
6. Listen to music or podcasts
Pop on some music or a podcast while we are on the move – listening to a favourite playlist is sure to put a smile on our face. Or subscribe to a positivity podcast. Podcasts are free and we can access them from our phones. Mobilise have a 'Who Cares Win' podcast for us to listen to!
Here are some popular podcasts that focus on the power of positive thinking:
Fearne Cotton Happy Place. Fearne Cotton talks to incredible people about life, love, loss, and everything in-between as she asks what happiness means to them:
Unlocking Us with Brené Brown. This podcast that is real, unpolished, honest, and reflects both the magic and the messiness of what it means to be human.
Paul McKenna's Positivity Podcast. A half-hour, in-depth, non-journalistic interview programme.
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About the author
Lydia is a support worker at Carers Leeds, where she creates groups and activities to bring carers together in a positive and uplifting way.