Optimism is powerful. Optimistic people have up to a 15% longer lifespan and are more likely to reach age 85. Proven benefits of positive thinking include better stress management and coping skills, greater energy and a better quality of life.
It’s important to remember optimism isn’t about feeling happy all the time. Rather, it’s about behaviour and attitude. For example, even if you don’t feel happy about your health, you can eat healthy (behaviour) and believe eating better will make you healthier (attitude). Here are ideas you can give patients to help them remain optimistic.
Encourage your patients to start and end each day by writing down one reason they’re grateful. Hand out gifts to get them started, like a notebook and a gel rollerball pen to document their gratitude. Remind them that even if they don’t feel as grateful as they wish they did, practicing gratitude is a behaviour and an attitude, not a feeling.
Patients can also practice gratitude through an expression of thanks. Have patients name what they’re grateful for as they thank someone. This helps make gratitude a conscious decision.
Create a positive environment
When one of your friends is happy, your chance of happiness increases by 25%. Ask your patients if certain people make them feel happy and encourage them to spend more time with those people. Gift a card and dice set to each patient, so they can play games with friends and family who bring them joy.
Positive books, movies and music can also help create an optimistic environment. Give patients gifts to promote positivity, like a bookmark with a positive message. Eliminating clutter can also make people feel optimistic. A desk caddy can set them on a path to organization.
Put a spin on negative situations
Life can bring unwanted situations, but you can help patients view those circumstances through a positive lens. Optimistic people tend to see unfortunate events as isolated situations outside of their control, while more pessimistic people tend to blame themselves and see negativity.
Encourage your patients to take a step back when something they don’t like happens. Have them ask themselves questions like, “What can I control in this situation?” and “What’s the silver lining?” Remind them they can maintain positive behaviour even when they don’t feel positive. A stress reliever is a great way to take a positive action—squeeze the stress away while breathing deeply.
Give them a break
Being positive all the time isn’t realistic, so remind your patients to give themselves some grace. Help them set realistic expectations and remind them that everyone makes mistakes. Mistakes often lead to wonderful learning opportunities.
Sometimes, patients just need a break. If your patients find it difficult to say no when people ask for a favour, help them set healthy boundaries. Give them a monthly planner so they can block off specific days to be for themselves. Encourage them to go one step further by turning off social media and email notifications on those days.
Harness the power of positivity
With ideas on how to remain optimistic, like practicing daily gratitude and seeing a silver lining even in stressful times, your patients can enjoy a fuller, happier life.