Cases of depression and anxiety are estimated to have increased by 25% throughout the pandemic. How can we revert this trend? Training yourself to remain optimistic is not a luxury but a much-needed personal polic.
What is optimism? Optimism is a positive cognitive, emotional, and motivational outlook toward life. You see, when we are optimistic, we expect events or situations to occur as we positively wish or foresee.
Why is Optimism Important?
Optimism allows us to feel more confident and motivated to act in ways we believe will increase the likelihood of desired outcomes. It propels us to move forward and take goal-oriented actions. How does it come around?
Dispositional optimism can be encoded in:
- a person’s genes
- family models
- influence of others
- life events
For example, positive and supportive families are more well-equipped to promote optimism in children. But families experiencing trauma and difficulties can have less capacity to nurture it at crucial developmental stages.
Depending on a complex interaction between personal and environmental factors, some people have a greater tendency to keep themselves optimistic. While others tend to hold on to more pessimistic views of themselves and the world.
Protecting Our Mental Health
Optimism has been negatively associated with risk perception. Consequently, people underestimate the likelihood of events such as getting sick and needing to take preventive measures. This is known as the “optimistic bias” which has also fuelled most negative stereotypes regarding creative people, picturing them as naive and irresponsible.
However, over the years, research has shown that optimism is also associated with:
- Positive social relationships
- Greater physical well-being
- Reduced depression and anxiety.
In addition to these positive outcomes, people who tend to be more optimistic and hold a great sense of reality are usually the ones who put the best coping strategies into action.
It is noteworthy saying dispositional optimism can vary and assume different proportions in different life stages and situations. In the face of recent news and events, it is only natural to witness a general reduction in people’s optimism.
As a matter of fact, it has been estimated that cases of depression and anxiety increased by 25% throughout the pandemic. Fear, isolation, and loss of income are some of the most common reported stress factors.
What can we do to revert this trend and protect our mental health? Training and managing our mindset is a good starting point.
With this in mind, I will finally share with you three strategies that will help you boost and keep a higher level of optimism in your daily life!
Declutter Your Social Media Feeds
Decluttering your social media feed can actually help improve your optimism. Importantly, this is not the time to be filled with negativity, unnecessary drama, and raging opinions.
Here are a few things to keep in mind while you declutter your social media feed:
- Select one or two sources of information you trust to remain informed and eliminate or mute all the others.
- Schedule a specific time window to read or catch up with the news.
- Avoid overdoing it and keep true to your main goal: protect your mental health by reestablishing and reinforcing an optimistic mindset.
- If you need to mute your cousin or brother-in-law, just do it. Your mental health needs to rank higher on your priority list.
Build On Tiny Positive Habits
So, what small step can you take today to increase your positive emotions and optimism?
A few habits you can begin with:
- Pay attention to details embedded in your day that make you feel grateful and hopeful for the future
- Be courageous and smile more often to people you walk by in the street
- Offer compliments
Additionally, you can try indulging in self-care practices such as reading a few passages from an inspirational book, meditating, or making the time for a self-massage ritual. It’s important to start small and build up from there.
Pick a 10-Day Challenge
Last but not least, challenges are a great way to support us in building long-lasting habits!
A 10-day challenge can broaden our mental horizons and emotions. For the most part, we want to keep them small. Taking on too much could be overwhelming.
Decide on an activity you want to try or select a habit you would like to incorporate into your daily routine. Such as reading 1 chapter of a book every day. Give yourself the chance to practice it for 10 days straight!
Pick any tiny positive habit mentioned before or try something different. Finally, if you’d like structure and guidance, feel free to join this free 10-day challenge to boost your optimism and overall well-being.