5 Ways You Can Overcome discouraging thoughts and feelings
Being discouraged is a defeating feeling and It happens to everyone at least once in a while. For me, it seems becoming discouraged doesn’t take much and negative thoughts and feelings can rise up at any time because of different things. Physical appearance, seemingly unproductive work, unexpected events, and comparison to others who ‘have it all together’ are all items that can spur a feeling of discouragement. And I know others feel the same way! Luckily I've developed a few habits that keep these negative vibes at bay. On those days when you’re down, remember to try a few of these.
1. Stay Off Social Media
Yes, this one is hard even for me, but it’s definitely effective. One of the best ways to avoid discouragement is avoiding social media for a while. I’m not saying go cold turkey, but I am saying take a break. The reason why I suggest this is because when one spends time on social media, there are a lot of comparisons being made. You see an endless flow of ‘perfect’ pictures and highlight reels of people’s lives, along with posts announcing achievements which you may not have reached yet. This can make you wonder, "Why Am I not there yet?" and that can make your mood worse, simply because they make you feel inadequate in your imperfections. Even if you know for a fact the photos and happy statuses aren’t the whole story, they still distract you away from the truth. Everyone struggles, you are where you are for a reason and you're perfect the way you are. Put the phone down, take a break.
2. Work Through It
This one might seem a little strange, but I do this all the time. Whenever I have days where I’m feeling discouraged and I feel as if I’m not making any progress, I just make it my goal to get my list done, or even a portion of my list done. This is very helpful because it makes me sort through tangible ways I can be successful right now defeating any negative or overwhelming feelings. At the end of the day, the work gives me a sense of accomplishment and crossing things off a list is super satisfying. In a way, it’s like trying to prove my feelings wrong because, ultimately, they are. Work through the negativity!
3. Keep Track of Your Milestones/Progress
This one takes a lot of planning but it is definitely worth it in the end. I started tracking my goals and progress in a journal over a year ago . I’ve gone through multiple journals and whenever experience discouragement I look back through the journals and see how far I’ve come. This is especially helpful for those who are trying to achieve something specific. Weight loss, increasing income, developing good habits, growing a business and many more things all involve a process where you have good days and bad days. Record your progress then take time during the bad days to appreciate the things you’ve accomplished! Even if you just write down achievements when they happen and review them later, it’s a great way to keep discouraging thoughts away.
4. Get Outside
Yeah, yeah, we've heard about study after study saying exercise is good for keeping a positive mood, but what I propose is a little different. I literally mean, "get outside." I feel the most discouraged when I’m overwhelmed and anxious and getting outside takes me away from piles of work I have to do. It doesn’t have to be exercise either! Sitting in the grass, feeling a breeze in your hair or enjoying a swing in the park are wonderful ways to reverse any negative and discouraging thoughts. Being outside gives you a break from the environment we spend so much time in and acts like a 'reset' on your mind because nature is peaceful. No noisy office, no overwhelming piles of work, just flowers and sunshine!
5. Step Away and Refocus
I do this with EVERY SINGLE project I start. Things don’t always start out the way they should and when it comes to my art, I am definitely my own worst critic. Usually, I experience doubt about my artwork at some stage of the creation process. A drawing just isn’t turning out right, or my heart isn’t into all the details I have to work through and that is super discouraging. When this happens, I literally step away from my project and look at it from far away. It gives me a different perspective and makes the piece seem smaller. Step away, get a new perspective, do something else for a while, then comeback and work again!
Now that I've shared the top 5 ways I overcome discouragement, negativity and the general feeling of being overwhelmed, I'd like to hear what you do! How do you lift yourself up and keep yourself positive?