Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Step 2: How to be Happy

“If you want to be happy, be.”  Leo Tolstoy (1910)
Did you know being an optimist is one of the most significant predictors of how happy and healthy you are?  So, if you tend to be a ‘gal’ who sees her glass half empty rather than half full, learning to be more optimistic could greatly benefit your health and well being – putting you on the road to looking good and feeling great.

A National Academy of Sciences study found that depression is common in breast cancer patients and it usually develops in the first three months after diagnosis. It’s important to seek help from your health care team if you are experiencing symptoms of stress or sadness but there are things you can do too. Following a healthy lifestyle is one way but it's also about developing a positive outlook. 

The great news is that becoming more optimistic is a habit you can learn.  How? By consciously taking charge of the hundreds of ‘what ifs’ inside your head and turning negative thoughts into positive ones. 

Take a moment to consider your own thoughts – are there more negative ones that positive?  Whether it’s worrying about a treatment, saying the wrong thing, feeling overweight – together these negative thoughts are energy drains with the power to ruin your day. 
Aside from making the decision to be optimistic and telling yourself you will cope with the treatment, you will say the right thing, you will loose weight – there are certain daily habits you can master to temper those negative thoughts.  Here’s 3 simple ideas you could try immediately!
1.   For a great mood lifter when you first wake up, set your intention for the day of whether you want to be happy, calm or stress-free.  Reminding yourself that you want to be ‘stress-free’ means you’re less likely to let others push their stress on to you later.

2.   Write a statement or mantra of how you want to feel.  It’s best if you keep it short and simple, written in positive language that makes you feel uplifted.  So rather than a statement like: “Today is going to be stressful,”  “I need to lose weight," try something like: “I feel good today and can deal with anything!”  “I am a calm and confident person,”  “I will only eat light and healthy food.”  Write your statements out and put them where you can easily see them to keep your positive thoughts in mind - maybe the fridge door, your diary or in your handbag.

3.   Do more things you enjoy.  Spend more time with friends who make you feel good and cut down time spent with negative people.  Start filling your diary with small treats and fun things to do.  It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate.  Start by calling a friend and having a good old girlie chat.  Another idea to help tune out negative influences might be to try switching off the news for a while or at least not watching it late in the evening. 
So is being an optimist about going round with a silly grin on your face and pretending everything is fine?  The answer of course is no! 

It's about becoming more aware of your thoughts and the impact these have on your energy and making the effort to change negative thoughts into positive ones.  After a month or so of using the visual reminders of your positive statements, you’ll find yourself naturally moving towards more positive people, you’ll learn to appreciate what you’ve got and you’ll learn to take more control of your thoughts.

As Shakespeare said: “Nothing is bad or good, but thinking makes it so.” 
Instead of dwelling on negative possibilities, telling yourself you don’t look good, you’re not going to get everything done or it’s going to be a difficult day, find reasons to justify positive outcomes instead.  So when doubts creep in,  remind yourself to wear something bright and cheerful that makes you feel good, tell yourself you’ve managed to get things done before when you put your mind to it and there’s no evidence it’s going to be a bad day.
The joy of learning to be optimistic is that the changes you make don’t have to be huge. But added up they can make a big difference.  You’ll find people will start paying you compliments  "you look good today, you look happy" – all great mood lifters. For most of us, developing a more optimistic outlook isn’t about having a personality transplant – it’s about having more fun.  So get started – you owe it to yourself! J

Look out for Step Three: How to photoshop your self image.  We'll be offering some post-mastectomy fashion tips and suggesting ways you can learn to create a positive self image to enhance your self confidence.

Post us your comments!  We’d love to hear how you’re getting on trying our suggestions and it would be great to share your ideas with other ladies too!  

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