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Ten top tips for planning positive mental change

Article three in our think yourself sassy series

In the last article, we looked at the type of negative thinking which is common over 45 and how to start challenging the thoughts which pull us away from feeling Sassy to feeling sour.

Recent research in Brazil has shown that people with low mood use significantly more negative words in general conversation. The mind body connection suggests that this is a two way thing – if you talk negative you will feel negative.

Give it a try: write out five really negative words and five really positive. First stare at the bleak words and see how you feel inside. Now put them aside and look at the sunny words. You will feel your mood shift.

But as well as challenging negative thinking and words, one of the fastest routes out of negativity is taking action – positive action!

Positive planning seems pretty straight-forward, but there are a few tips which will increase success and impact:

  1. Make it personal – this means plan a change which will have a positive impact on your life. Changing for others is all well and good, but you have to look after number one.
  2. Check for external impact – if your plan has very negative implications for others then you will soon find yourself running into barriers. So if you are a mother of teenage kids and running away Shirley Valentine style sounds wonderful, think again. You will soon be full of negative guilt.
  3. Set realistic goals and actions. If you plan to do the impossible it will prove you’re right!
  4. Set short term goals to get yourself going. If your goal is to get your body back in shape then please do not set a goal of losing 50 pounds and being able to do a marathon. If you need to lose that much then the goal is a long way out. Far better to cut your goal into five and aim at 10 pounds in two months which is a healthy 2 pounds a week and far more likely to be achieved. Add to this four sessions of walking a week for a month and you are far more likely to sustain your effort.
  5. Track progress. We respond far better when we see small incremental steps to success. This might be a daily mood rating, a weekly weigh-in or a self-rating on activity. Make your own tracking system and keep it up.
  6. Set up rewards. Positive thinking needs reinforcing and a pat on the back. Make sure your reward is not counter-goal. So if you are aiming at weight loss, then reward your ten pounds with a new belt and not a five course Chinese meal.
  7. Find a friend. Some plans are more fun done in company. If you think there are other women out there who are trying to achieve the same then ask them to join – or join them. If your goal is about emotional change then search the web for support groups – there is one for just about everything. That said, please avoid any negative websites which only focus on how terrible something is – all they do is feed that negative imp which is trying to turn you sour not Sassy.
  8. Keep a diary. Logging your thoughts is a very positive way to gauge progress. Whether this is your attitude to food, feelings of confidence, getting over a relationship or the food you at and how you feel, putting it on paper is a quick way of rationalising. More than that, it is a rapid alert to your thinking going sour and you can revert to the advice in article two and challenge.
  9. Talk. Tell people how you are doing. You will be surprised at how praise and positive words from others will give you a boost.
  10. Keep going. The road to positive thinking is rarely smooth. You will have days when you wonder if you will ever feel good again and others when you think all your effort is going down the drain. Recognise these as the imp inside just getting his way and challenge. If today is bad then tomorrow can be better. Be kind to yourself, tough on the imp and go to bed determined to make tomorrow a better, more positive, more successful day.

Following a plan to a more positive place is a journey. For some it is quick, for those who have been negative for a long time it is slower. But one thing is defiantly true – it gets better and easier the further you go and the harder you try.

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