When things go bad, we have a tendency to focus on all the negative thoughts racing through our minds. It’s just easier to let that negativity take control as opposed to fighting back with positive thoughts. The problem with the idea of fighting back with positive thoughts is that you’re going to make yourself even more anxious and stressed out, which definitely is not good for your overall health.
But, how can you find a sense of harmony, emotional well-being, and replace those negative thoughts with positive ones? You can start by practicing these eight tips that can lead you to inner peace.
Related: How successful people beat stress
1. Practice acceptance.
This may sound difficult, but it’s one of the most effective ways for a person to begin achieving inner peace. But, what exactly does practicing acceptance entail?
It simply means letting go of the things that you have absolutely no control over. Freeing yourself from this fact can relieve a ton of anxiety and stress that are building up in your everyday life. To get started, here are a couple of suggestions:
• Stop complaining about the situation that you’re in and try to focus on finding a solution. Instead of yelling at your computer because it’s too slow, accept that it’s outdated and either find a way to improve its speed or purchase a new computer.
• Bite the bullet—the proverbial bullet. Accept the fact that things aren’t always perfect. Start by letting go of the small annoyances in your life and build your way up to bigger scenarios.
2. Listen to soothing sounds.
As Maya Angelou once said, “Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.” It turns out that this legendary writer / poet was on to something. Research has found that music has the power to reduce anxiety, stress and decrease depression. It’s also been found to be a powerful aid when mediating.
If you don’t have access to music, however, there are soothing sounds all around you that you can listen to. Open your window and listen to birds chirping or even the wind blowing. These soothing sounds can help relax you when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Remember, you can pull up music and sounds on your computer and on your cell phone.
Sometimes it helps to pull up a motivational speaker like Tony Robbins, Les Brown, Zig Ziggler and Jim Rohn. If you are suffering, you will have to keep mixing it up to keep yourself in the safe zone—or pull yourself up.
3. Get outside.
Speaking of nature, getting outside and enjoying the great outdoors is another way to find inner peace. One study featuring college students “found that students sent into the forest for two nights had lower levels of cortisol—a hormone often used as a marker for stress—than those who spent that time in the city.” There was also another study where “researchers found a decrease in both heart rate and levels of cortisol in subjects in the forest when compared to those in the city.”
Have you ever been out and about and are greeted by a sincere smile? I bet that made your day. How do you feel when your child smiles at you? You can’t help but smile back. That’s because, smiling stimulates our brain’s reward mechanisms. Much like when we purchase something or eat something delicious. It's the same type of stimulation to our brain.
Whenever you’re looking for inner peace, just smile and laugh at your current situation. It will make you feel better and calm. If you can’t force yourself to smile, you know you can fake a smile, and research has shown that even if you put a fake smile on your face—it still lifts you up a little. And that may save you. Surround yourself with those who are cheerful—those who do smile a lot, because smiling also happens to be contagious.
When you take the time to care for others and show compassion, you’re replacing all negative thoughts and anxiety, because you’re no longer consumed with your own problems. And, there’s no better option for caring for others than volunteering. If you can manage to find a way to volunteer on a regular basis, it can help you not get so far down, where it's hard to pull out of it.
In fact, according to a study commissioned by UnitedHealth Group, it was discovered that:
• 94% of people who volunteered in the last twelve months said that volunteering improved their mood.
• 96% reported that volunteering enriched their sense of purpose in life.
• 78% of them said that volunteering lowered their stress levels.
Additionally, volunteering has been found to reduce chronic pain and make the volunteer feel healthier.
Originating from the Latin word affirmare, meaning "to make steady, strengthen,” affirmations “are proven methods of self-improvement because of their ability to rewire our brains.” Repeating phrases like, “My body is healthy; my mind is brilliant; my soul is tranquil” have the power to redirect negative thoughts into positive and calm thoughts.
Dr. Carmen Harra shared 35 affirmations on the Huffington Post to get you started, but you can use any combination of soothing words of phrases that feel right for you.
7. Show your gratitude.
Realizing what you're grateful for is another way for you to find inner peace.
I personally like to take a moment out of everyday and ask questions to myself like, “What can I be grateful for today?” and, “Who should I call today to tell them I care about them?" This helps me feel better about myself.
8. Keep breathing.
This could possibly be the easiest way to uncover inner peace. Science has proven that breathing can manage stress and anxiety, along with lowering blood pressure and heart rate. By taking five deep breaths, holding it in for a second, and exhaling through the mouth slowly, you’ll feel an instant wave of calmness come over you. Breathing is also a major work in meditation, but you don't need to be meditating to say to yourself in a time of anxiety or stress, "Breathe," or. "You are okay."
It's important to keep a hold on your emotional health and to do the actions required to keep you at your best. Do it for yourself. Do it for your friends. Do it for your loved ones.
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This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editor.
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