I'm a firm believer that the people around you have even more of an impact on your day to day mood than your own thoughts. Unless you're a hermit or live on a desert island, of course.
But surrounding yourself with positive people isn't just good for your mind, it's also good for your health. Did you know that laughing and smiling is one of the greatest natural ways to relieve stress? Think about how much better you feel when you're with friends that make you laugh - for me nothing even comes close!
The same can be said for negative people too; anyone who is unsupportive of your dreams and ambitions or rains on your parade with constant tales of gloom and doom can leach your energy and leave you feeling blue. That's not to say you're not allowed to be negative - you wouldn't be human if you didn't have spells of negativity. But surrounding yourself with those who have your best interests at heart and can appreciate the lighter side of life definitely makes for a more easy-going time.
Having said that, some of the people who make me laugh more than anyone on the planet are those who are suffering from or have experienced depression. Whether it's that darkly scathing wit or occasional cynicism I find so appealing, who's to say! All I know is that a healthy dose of sarcasm is amusing at the right time.
This blog post was supposed to share some helpful tips on limiting negativity in your life, but as usual I have gone off on a tangent. So here are a few tips which work for me - I hope they work for you too!
Don't rise to the bait
People with negative views on the world or who are jealous of your achievements love nothing more than to bait you for a reaction, and you'll find this is true in all walks of life; think of the way the school playground bully taunts his victims. By refusing to give them a reaction, you're not only taking the higher ground, you're showing that you are successful and happy regardless of what they think. It might feel tough to do at the time, but it's better for your health and peace of mind, trust me!
Make time for what you love
This is a huge tip - I know we're all guilty of being bogged down by work sometimes and it can be hard to say no when there's money to be made or personal goals to meet. But it's important to think about what makes you happy and to make time for it. If it's the cinema you love, a weekly trip to see a film should be on your schedule. If coffee and cake with friends leaves you smiling, make the time to catch up regularly over a cuppa at your favourite cafe. Even during the busiest times, you should give yourself something to look forward to. For me it's all about spending time with the people closest to me, regardless of what we actually end up doing, but for you it could be something more specific!
Meditation isn't just for buddhists you know. You might think if you're lacking time in life to get even the most important things done that meditation should be the last thing on your list, but just think of the benefits it brings! Meditation has been shown to have a significant effect on your mental health when practiced daily. Not only does it increase relaxation and reduce the production of stress hormones such as adrenaline, it also boosts creativity and imagination; as a writer that's something I need in spades! I have friends who attend weekly meditation classes, but I use Head Space to practice between 10-20 minutes of meditation every day. It's a great way to clear your mind and feel happier about life.
Limiting negative thoughts, perceptions and opinions can help you to gain perspective on your life and the choices you make, and I for one am a huge fan of perspective. Stepping back and looking at things in a logical way (Spock would be proud) is always a great way to do things.