Nix Your Negativity
Are you a “glass-half-empty” kind of person? It’s time to drop this bad habit now. Why? Studies show that people who are optimistic not only have better emotional health than pessimists, they also live longer. In fact, an upbeat attitude can help lessen stress, chronic pain, and even reduce your chances of developing heart disease. Continue below
Your challenge: If you’re constantly expecting the worst, remember: You get to choose your own thoughts, so why not practice replacing negative ones with positive ones?
We’re all guilty of back-fence chit-chat (and occasionally airing others’ dirty laundry), but if you actually enjoy talking about the misfortunes of others, this bad habit could backfire on you. “Gossip — not celebrity but the malicious kind — will isolate you from colleagues, friends, and family,” advises Debbie Mandel, MA, an emotional health expert, and author of Addicted to Stress. “People will fear what you say about them and will not trust you, and consequently, you may begin to feel a bit ostracized.”
Your challenge: Swap your blabber-mouthing tendency for this one: Try spreading positive stories about the people in your life, Mandel says. You’ll keep more friends this way!
Just Say No to People-Pleasing
Pleasing others sounds like a good thing, but there’s a tipping point: If you find yourself constantly over-extended and worrying too much about other people’s problems instead of your own, you could be a “yes-man” (or woman).”Saying yes to everyone means that there is an unhealthy balance in your life,” Mandel says. “The key to health and happiness is the balance between giving and receiving. And saying no when you are depleted means you are saying yes to yourself.” Even more, the reason to say no? According to the American Medical Association, suppressing and silencing your own needs could damage your cardiovascular system.
Your challenge: Next time someone asks you to cover for him at work, watch her dog for the weekend, or for the last bite of your dessert, interject with this: “No way, José.”
Give Up Giving Up
We all have our down days, weeks — even years. But letting yourself get steamrolled by adversity is one bad habit you need to bag pronto. In fact, studies show that one of the most important aspects of emotional health is resilience. The opposite of giving up? Bouncing back. According to the American Psychological Association, people who are resilient learn how to balance their emotions, deal with their problems, and ask for help when they need it.
Your challenge: Instead of adopting a “woe-is-me” attitude the next time you have a bad day, think of something that you feel fortunate for in your life (your cat Fluffy, an upcoming vacation, or the delicious dinner you had last night) — and march forward.
Holding grudges is more than just a bad habit: It can seriously harm your emotional health. While anger and resentment can cause your stress levels to snowball, research shows that forgiveness leads to less stress, lower blood pressure, and a reduced risk for depression. Remember: Begrudging hurts you more than the person you’re angry with.
Your challenge: Has someone been the butt of your grudge for too long? Find a way to forgive her — now.
Ditch the Self-Digs
Are you the object of your own ridicule? You may not realize it, but if you constantly put yourself down, over-apologize, or can’t seem to accept a compliment, you could be wrecking your self-esteem. “Many of us can’t accept a compliment so we use self-deprecating humor or counter the compliment with a negative trait,” Mandel says. “For example, ‘You look great today.’ ‘Who me? No, I gained five pounds.’ Your words actualize your thoughts.”
Your challenge: Next time someone pays you a compliment, say thanks! “Speak about yourself in the positive, and you will actualize your beliefs,” says Mandel. “There is great power in the placebo effect.”
Stop Taking Yourself So Seriously
Turns out, laughter may be one of the best protectors of your heart. According to a study presented at a meeting of the American Heart Association, people who laughed less were more likely to have heart disease than those who knew how to let out a good chuckle. Being able to find amusement in life’s strange twists and turns helps you put things in proper perspective.
Your challenge: Discover a joke that makes you LOL — and share it! Follow Us for great book recommendations @XicasBlog