Welcome to the latest in our series of bitesize blogs containing quick tips and ideas to help you build resilience and boost wellbeing.

When we are facing new challenges, pressures or changes to our routine, it is easy to become over-focused on the negative. There are probably very few of us who haven’t dipped into rumination over recent months – repeatedly focusing on the negatives, asking ourselves ‘why is this happening’, or ‘why me’?

These ways of thinking have a compulsive appeal at times of stress. Although they are negative, these patterns are often familiar to us and can feel strangely comforting as they hook us into believing that we are finding solutions to our problems. But really, these thoughts can give us an overly negative perspective and can cause our mood to spiral downwards.

When we mind our mindset, we can step back and observe our patterns of negative thinking, work out whether we really are problem-solving or if thinking this way is unhelpful. If unhelpful, we can teach ourselves to change our negative mindset for a more optimistic way of looking at the situation.

Next time you notice a negative shift in your mood have a go at following these simple steps:

Notice

  • Ask yourself “What was going through my mind when I started feeling this way?”
  • Try noting down one or two thoughts that have been troubling you. Writing them down helps you to start to unhook, to step back from them and see them objectively
  • Ask yourself “Is thinking this way helping me to stay resilient or boosting my wellbeing?”
  • OR “Is it making me feel more stressed, frustrated or hopeless?”
  • “Is thinking this way helping me solve the problem?”

Analyse

If you conclude that thinking this way is unhelpful, see if you can identify whether you are making a thinking error by asking yourself:

  • “Am I taking this situation personally when it may be the result of factors external to me or outside my control?”
  • “Am I trying to predict the future, or over-estimating the potential for a negative outcome?”
  • “Am I overgeneralising, expecting that because I’m struggling now, I will always struggle?”

Reappraise

Ask yourself:

  • “Is there is another way of looking at the situation?” “How would someone else view it?”
  • “Which factors, external to me, have contributed to this situation?”
  • “How likely it is that my predicted negative outcome will come true?”
  • Look for the exceptions. Try remembering times in the past when you coped well or things worked out OK.

Minding your mindset, being aware of your negative thinking and finding more helpful and optimistic ways of explaining negative or challenging events, will boost positivity and wellbeing. Using this approach will also facilitate problem-solving by helping you to think rationally and creatively about any difficulties you are facing.

If you found this helpful and would like to read more bitesize tips, check out some of the other blogs in this series. You might also like to join our Facebook group UR Resilient, where members are busy sharing creative and inspiring ideas for staying positive during this challenging time.