A friendly resource for women who want to lead better lives

When life hands you lemons

I am an eternal optimist. When life hands me lemons, I will figure out a way to make lemonade, or lemon cake, or as my blog name suggests, lemon water.

But, sometimes, the lemons are rotten and moldy and that optimism doesn’t come as easily. During these times, we have to work hard to be positive and fight off our natural inclination to dwell in frustration. If we don’t, it’s a quick downward spiral into the land of sadness and self-pity. No one wants that for themselves, or others.

Did you know:

“77% of Americans regularly experience physical symptoms caused by stress.” – American Institute of Stress.
“350 million people worldwide suffer from depression. It is a leading cause of disability.” – World Health Organization
“Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 18.1% of the population every year. Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only 36.9% of those suffering receive treatment.” – Anxiety & Depression Association of America

Living in a state of stress, anxiety or depression can lead to many health problems including insomnia, weakened immune system, muscle tension, headaches, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes. According to Healthline, the constant state of stress can lead to clinical depression.

Life can be messy and difficult, but if you look hard enough, there is a way to find the good. My own mental health requires that I actually do that.

Following are my top 7 activities for generating a more positive outlook on life:

  1. Gratitude Journal – Write down 3 things every day that you’re thankful for. These can be very tiny accomplishments, like “I took a shower” or “I live in a free country.” Just start small and you’ll start seeing bigger things. This is a basic law of attraction: positive thoughts generate positive results. (For more on this, check out the list of “three good things” from The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor.)
  2. Make a Date – Get together with a friend who makes your spirit feel full and uplifted. It’s hard to maintain a positive perspective if you are constantly pulled down by the negativity of friends, family, or co-workers. If you get trapped in a negative conversation, gracefully try to change the subject to something more positive. The people who bring you down? Decide for if they really have a place in your life. If they don’t, have the courage to move on. For the record, anyone who makes you feel like crap about yourself does not have a place in your life.
  3. Smile – Another way for your body to “trick” your mind into being more positive is through smiling. Even if you don’t feel like it, each time you smile, you throw a little feel-good party in your brain. The feel-good neurotransmitters – dopamine, endorphins and serotonin – are all released when a smile flashes across your face.
  4. Make Your Home Happy – I mean, who feels good in a messy house with beige walls? Try keeping things picked up and adding bright colored accents like art and accessories. Our physical space is often representative of our mental space and impacts us more than we realize. Walking into an bright and uplifting home is like spending time with a friend who reminds you how special you truly are.
  5. Eat Healthy – A poor diet that is high in saturated fats and caloric levels leads to depression. Conversely, people who consumed more water, fiber, ascorbic acid, tryptophan, magnesium and selenium reported a better mood overall. (From Your Brain on Food by Dr. Gary Wenk.)
  6. Get Moving – I love to go for a hike or to a yoga class when I’m feeling blue. I use this time to clear my mind and meditate. Sometimes our brain’s stressor chemical, cortisol, needs an adjustment; and exercise, sunshine, and calm focus are all known for resetting cortisol levels.
  7. Remember, it’s all you – I have a choice whether I want to choose positivity or negativity, kindness or anger. I always have a choice. And guess what? So do you.

Moms are at an especially high risk of experiencing depression, anxiety and stress. A recent Gallup analysis reported that stay-at-home moms experience this even more than working moms. The study does not say why, but any mom can tell you the weight of a mother’s burden is high and usually the gratitude is low, with a payoff long in the future.

As moms, we are very influential over the tone of our family. Our attitude determines how we see ourselves, how our family sees us, and how others treat us.

Making a choice to be positive will help us create and attract more positive experiences. This will also keep the negatives from ruining our day. There are always going to be negatives, but as long as we’re still breathing, we have a lot to be thankful for.

Remember to find the good and dwell on it and you’ll be on a path to transforming your life into a more positive, fulfilling and joyful experience.

Before you know it, you’ll be one of those people you used to admire for their confidence and courage.

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