Cultivating A Positive Mindset

Cultivating A Positive Mindset

Cultivating a Positive Mindset: The Science of Optimism 

Your mindset has a profound impact on your life. Cultivating a positive mindset can lead to increased resilience, improved mental health, and a more optimistic outlook on life. In this article I want to  delve into the science behind positive thinking and provide actionable steps to help you foster a brighter perspective. My insights are inspired by the book “Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life” by Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman.

Understanding Positive Mindset

A positive mindset is not about denying the existence of challenges or difficulties; rather, it’s about approaching them with a constructive and hopeful attitude. Research in the field of positive psychology has shown that adopting a positive mindset can enhance well-being and contribute to a happier, more fulfilling life. For me adopting a positive mindset began with my journey of discovery while looking for a better life that would bring me more fulfillment. 

The Science of Positive Thinking

Dr. Martin Seligman, a pioneer in the field of positive psychology, introduced the concept of “learned optimism.” He argued that optimism is a skill that can be cultivated through changing one’s explanatory style—the way we interpret and explain events to ourselves. This concept was something that got my attention and allowed me to delve deeper into his methodology.

In his book, “Learned Optimism,” Dr. Seligman discusses the three key elements of optimism:

  1. Personalization: Optimists tend to see the causes of negative events as external and temporary, while pessimists attribute them to internal, permanent factors.
  2. Pervasiveness: Optimists view setbacks as specific to a particular situation, whereas pessimists generalize them to all areas of life.
  3. Permanence: Optimists believe that challenges are temporary, while pessimists think they will last indefinitely.

By recognizing and adjusting your explanatory style, you can learn to adopt a more optimistic perspective, which can have a profound impact on your overall outlook on life. This insight has helped me tremendously in my own journey of learning to change my mindset, having peace in my life allowed space for self development. I’ve read a lot of books over the last 14 years and I’ve worked on practicing what I’ve learned. I can’t say it has been an easy journey, but I can’t say it has been boring either. Below are some actionable steps I have personally taken to cultivate positivity in my life. 

Some Actionable Steps to Cultivate Optimism

  1. Practice Gratitude: Regularly reflect on the things you are grateful for. This can help shift your focus toward positive aspects of life. I love to keep a journal. I write 5 things that I am grateful for each morning before starting my day.
  2. Challenge Negative Thoughts: When you catch yourself thinking negatively, challenge those thoughts with evidence and consider alternative, more positive explanations. I look for experiences that challenge my thoughts so that I can reaffirm that for each negative thought there are 2-3 positive ones I can focus on.
  3. Surround Yourself with Positivity: Spend time with supportive and positive individuals who uplift your spirits. All you need is one friend who can be fun to be around with and who has a positive outlook in life. A few minutes of texting to say hello or a phone call to connect is all you truly need to feel better and to refocus your brain.
  4. Visualize Success: Visualize yourself overcoming challenges and achieving your goals. This can boost your confidence and motivation. I tend to journal my perfect day or my perfect week. At the beginning of each week I journal my best week and read it every morning.
  5. Embrace Failure as a Learning Opportunity: Instead of viewing failure as a setback, see it as a chance to learn and grow. When I feel I’ve had a setback, I spend a little bit of time writing down the positives and negatives and then I work on learning from the experience. I also reframe failure as an opportunity to experiment again with acquired knowledge. 
  6. Practice Mindfulness: Mindfulness meditation can help you stay present and reduce rumination on negative thoughts. YouTube has plenty of soothing music for meditation. My favorite ones to listen to are any  meditation music that is 432Hz.

Cultivating a positive mindset is a journey that takes time and practice. It’s about training your mind to see the silver linings even in challenging situations. By following these steps and embracing the principles of learned optimism, you can transform your life, enhance your mental well-being, and approach challenges with greater resilience.

Resource: Seligman, M. E. P. (2006). Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life. Vintage.

YouTube: Meditations

Author: Cristie Remmel / FMF Doc / Persian Gulf Vet

 

Nurturing Your Well-being Through Self-Care: The Art of Self-Compassion

Nurturing Your Well-being Through Self-Care: The Art of Self-Compassion

Nurturing Your Well-being Through Self-Care: The Art of Self-Compassion

In the hustle and bustle of modern life, taking care of yourself often takes a back seat. However, self-care is not a luxury but a necessity for maintaining mental, emotional, and physical health. I’ve had the pleasure of researching and exploring the concept of self-care. The main reason for me was to develop more peace in my life and also a sense of fulfillment. In this article I will be drawing insights from the book “Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself” by Dr. Kristin Neff. If you have not read it, I highly recommend it. I would like to provide practical self-care tips, and highlight the transformative power of self-compassion. 

Understanding Self-Care

Self-care encompasses deliberate actions and practices that promote well-being and reduce stress. It involves taking time for yourself, acknowledging your needs, and nurturing your physical, emotional, and mental health. Self-care is not selfish; it’s an act of self-preservation that enables you to be the best version of yourself for both your own benefit and the benefit of others in your life. This is hard to do because of the demands of society with work, success and also raising children. However, it is a part of each of us that must not be neglected because it allows us to become better family members. Here are some of the steps I have taken and ones I recommend to all. 

Practical Self-Care Tips

  1. Prioritize Sleep: Quality sleep is essential for physical and mental health. Ensure you get enough restful sleep each night to rejuvenate your body and mind. Personally, I tend to go to bed around the same time every night including weekends. I have developed a routine that involves a little bit of stretching, reading, praying and of course spending time with my pets before we go to sleep. 
  2. Healthy Eating: Nourish your body with a balanced diet rich in nutrients. Avoid excessive consumption of processed foods, sugar, and caffeine. Fresh fruit and vegetables are part of my every day menu.
  3. Regular Exercise: Physical activity not only improves physical health but also releases endorphins, which boost mood and reduce stress. I make it a point to work out first thing in the morning and to allow for time in my schedule to stretch for 10-15 mins during the day with a 30 min stretching excercises before going to bed. 
  4. Mindfulness Meditation: Practice mindfulness to stay present and reduce anxiety. Even just a few minutes of meditation each day can make a significant difference. Right after working out while i’m waiting to cool off I sit in my favorite lounge chair and I listen to soothing music at 432Hz on YouTube for about 10 mins. 
  5. Set Boundaries: Learn to say no when necessary and establish healthy boundaries to protect your time and energy. This one was hard because I had to say no to a lot of things that I wanted to do, but just couldn’t find the time to commit to. In the end it has empowered me to work on myself and be a better with the things I do commit to. 
  6. Pursue Hobbies: Engage in activities you love that bring you joy and relaxation, whether it’s reading, painting, or gardening. I love to create art and weekends is my time to be creative without guilt. 
  7. Social Connections: Maintain and nurture meaningful relationships with friends and family. Social support is crucial for emotional well-being. I concluded that I only need one friend I can have a close relationship with to feel connected. 

I strive to work on each of the 7 self care tips, sometimes I fail but I am not hard on myself. I just get back on track and keep on working at practicing self-care as it is the kindest thing you can do for  yourself. 

The Power of Self-Compassion

Self-compassion, as described by Dr. Kristin Neff, involves treating oneself with the same kindness and understanding that one would offer to a close friend during times of suffering and failure. It’s about being gentle with yourself rather than overly self-critical or judgmental.

Dr. Neff’s research has shown that self-compassion is associated with improved emotional well-being, decreased anxiety and depression, and greater resilience in the face of challenges. It allows you to acknowledge your imperfections without harsh self-criticism, fostering a positive and nurturing relationship with yourself.

Incorporating self-compassion into your self-care routine means treating yourself with kindness, embracing self-forgiveness, and practicing self-acceptance. When you prioritize self-compassion, you create a strong foundation for a happier and more fulfilling life.

In conclusion, self-care is a vital practice for nurturing your overall well-being. By incorporating practical self-care tips and embracing self-compassion, you can prioritize yourself, reduce stress, and enhance your quality of life. Remember that self-care is an ongoing journey, and taking small steps each day can lead to profound positive changes in your life. The journey is not always easy or comfortable but it is worth while embarking on it one step at a time. 

Reference:

Neff, K. (2015). Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself. HarperCollins.

Author: Cristie Remmel / FMF Doc / Persian Gulf Vet

The Journey of Personal Development: A Path to Success and Fulfillment

The Journey of Personal Development: A Path to Success and Fulfillment

The Journey of Personal Development: A Path to Success and Fulfillment

Personal development, often referred to as self-improvement or self-growth, is a lifelong journey that empowers individuals to unlock their full potential, grow as individuals, and lead more fulfilling lives. As life changes happen in everyone’s life, it is important to keep growing. I have learned a lot over the last few years and I would like to share those thoughts with you in this article.

Understanding Personal Development

Personal development encompasses a wide range of activities and efforts aimed at improving oneself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. It’s about becoming the best version of yourself and achieving your goals, whether they relate to your career, relationships, health, or personal growth. For me, it took a while to get the hang of how to organize my life in order to accomplish everything I wanted to do and I am still learning. So let’s get into it 🙂

Setting and Pursuing Goals

Setting clear and achievable goals is a fundamental aspect of personal development. Goals provide direction and purpose, motivating individuals to take action and make positive changes in their lives. Whether your goals are short-term or long-term, they serve as a roadmap to success. I have read many books and tried many techniques, but one book that sticks out the most is  “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” by Stephen R. Covey

In the book, Covey emphasizes the importance of proactively setting and working toward your goals. Covey’s principles, including “Begin with the end in mind” and “Put first things first,” underscore the idea that effective personal development begins with a clear vision of what you want to achieve. I’ve learned that seeing my own life as a business is more effective for me in planning how I want to achieve my goals and how I want to schedule what I need to do month after month. I think of it as being in the business of “the self.”

Seeking Self-Improvement

Self-improvement is at the core of personal development. It involves a commitment to continuous learning and growth. This can take many forms, from acquiring new skills and knowledge to developing emotional intelligence and enhancing your self-awareness.

Reading books of interest on topics of personal development or other self-help literature can provide valuable insights and strategies for personal growth. Additionally, attending workshops, seeking mentorship, or engaging in online courses are excellent ways to invest in your self-improvement journey. At the start of every year I choose to follow one person for the first six months and no other so that I can focus on absorbing as much knowledge from them as possible. I also like to listen to videos on personal development while on my breaks. 

Embracing Change

Change is a constant in life, and personal development encourages individuals to embrace it rather than resist it. Change often presents opportunities for growth and new experiences. Developing a mindset that welcomes change and adapts to it can be a powerful asset on your personal development journey. I truly enjoy reading Marcus Aurelius meditations because he embraced change and accepted what he could not change and effectively worked on what he could change. If you’ve never studied this book, you are surely missing out. I gotta warn you though, it is a book you digest a little bit at a time and over the course of a life time. 

As you grow and evolve, you may encounter challenges and setbacks. These are natural aspects of personal development, and they provide opportunities to learn and become more resilient. There a so much more to this topic and more articles to come on the subject. 

In conclusion, personal development is a transformative journey that can lead to greater success and fulfillment in all aspects of life. By setting goals, seeking self-improvement, and embracing change, you can unlock your potential and become the best version of yourself. Remember that personal development is a continuous process, and each step forward is a valuable part of your growth.

Resource: Covey, S. R. (1989). The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Free Press.

Marcus Aurelius – Meditations: Adapted for the Contemporary Reader, Translator: James Harris (2016)

Author: Cristie Remmel / FMF Doc / Persian Gulf Vet

Understanding and Managing Anxiety

Understanding and Managing Anxiety

Understanding and Managing Anxiety

Anxiety: I didn’t know that anxiety could be treated, nor that I could seek help. As a Persian Gulf War Veteran, I felt that there was something wrong with me, but I didn’t know what. I had panic attacks, anxiety, and a lot of other symptoms. I was a stay at home mom after my honorable discharge from the military so a lot of the times I would just chuck it to: I’m at home “with nothing to do” or “i just had a baby, it’s “normal” or “my hormones are off because I jsut had a “baby”

In reality, anxiety is a prevalent mental health concern that impacts individuals across the globe. It manifests in various forms, from generalized anxiety disorder to specific phobias, and can have a profound effect on one’s daily life. In my journey of healing from severe anxiety I made a few discoveries over the years. I want to share those with you in this article and if you identify with what I write, I encourage you to seek help and know that you are not alone. 

What is Anxiety?

At its core, anxiety is a natural response to stress and potential threats. It’s our body’s way of preparing for challenges, whether they’re physical or psychological. However, when anxiety becomes excessive or chronic, it can disrupt daily functioning and overall well-being. From experience, I know how debilitating this can be. 

The Causes of Anxiety

Anxiety disorders can arise from a combination of factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events. Some individuals may be more predisposed to anxiety due to their genetic makeup, while others may develop it as a response to traumatic experiences or high-stress environments. The world in general is experiencing higher rates of anxiety due to the world wide circumstances and as many people understand that the long wars are taking a toll on our active duty military and also as Veterans exit the military it is something that families deal with. 

In my personal journey I have made a few adjustments and I would like to share with our readers some healthy techniques I discovered that have worked for me. Of course everyone must seek professional advice from their physician. 

Practical Strategies for Managing Anxiety

  1. Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques: Mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, and progressive muscle relaxation can help calm the mind and reduce anxiety symptoms. 
  2. Regular Exercise: Physical activity releases endorphins, which are natural mood lifters. Engaging in regular exercise can significantly reduce anxiety levels.
  3. Healthy Lifestyle: A balanced diet, adequate sleep, and minimizing caffeine and alcohol intake can contribute to better mental health and reduced anxiety.
  4. Therapy and Counseling: Professional help, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), can provide valuable tools for understanding and managing anxiety. Therapists can work with individuals to identify thought patterns and coping mechanisms. Once I chose to take control of my life, I did seek mental treatment to help me discover coping mechanisms that would help me manage and deal with the anxiety I was experiencing. 
  5. Medication: In some cases, medication prescribed by a healthcare provider may be necessary to manage severe anxiety. It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any medication. 
  6. Support System: Sharing your feelings with friends and family or joining support groups can offer emotional support and practical advice for dealing with anxiety.

In closing I would like to share that  anxiety is a treatable condition, and seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. With the right tools and support, it’s possible to take control of your anxiety and lead a fulfilling life. If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety, don’t hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional for guidance and support. A helpful resource is below, check it out.

Resource: National Institute of Mental Health. (2020). Anxiety Disorders. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml

Veteran Affairs Hospital

Author: Cristie Remmel / FMF Doc / Persian Gulf War Vet