Hope you’re all doing well!
While I was studying Psychology in college one of the topics that really resonated with me was the idea of emotional contagion. As its name implies, emotional contagion is based on the idea that emotions are contagious.
Studies have shown that when we are surrounded by positive people we begin to think more positively and when we are surrounded by negativity we tend to become more negative.
Before going any further, I just want to clarify that the type of negativity that I am referring to is the type of negativity in which the person is feeling negative about the world or about something that is going on in their own life and they might complain a lot to you but they are in no way demeaning you or meaning to cause you any physical and emotional harm.
Basically, emotional contagion is a fancy phrase for explaining that the type of people we surround ourselves with help determine our emotions and outlook on life.
One piece of advice that I constantly hear is that we should try to surround ourselves with positive people and distance ourselves from negative people.
First of all, I definitely think that this advice is easier said than done. Nevertheless, I think that it is certainly possible to gradually distance ourselves from negative friends, acquaintances, bosses, etc.
However, I believe that sometimes it is very difficult, if not impossible, to distance ourselves from those that are more negative. This is especially true if this person is a very dear friend, a significant other, a parent or even a child. In such instances, our conscience will not (and should not!) allow us to distance ourselves from that person.
One of the things that I have been really thinking about lately is: how can we preserve our own happiness and positive outlook without distancing ourselves from the person who is the source of this negativity?
A little Empathy Goes a Long Way
I think that sometimes we have to mentally put ourselves in their position in order to better understand where their mindset is coming from. Often, we may realize that this person has endured certain struggles and challenges that we have never been through. Or perhaps we have been through similar experiences it’s just that this person has had more difficulty coping with the challenge.
Have a Chat
This tip may not work for everyone. However, when possible, I would recommend sitting down with this individual and very calmly letting them know how their negativity is also bringing you down. Most people may not even know that their constant negativity is bothering you! Often, the last thing the loved one wants to do is to bother you or bring you down so this could perhaps be an eye opener for them.
It might be a good idea to discuss many different options during this chat. This also includes the option of that person seeking professional help if necessary.
Self-Care is a Necessity and Not a Luxury
Regardless of our situation, in this fast paced and hard-working world of ours I think that self-care is a must for everyone. We have to dedicate some time to free our minds from everything that worries us or stresses us out.
There are many different approaches to self-care since different methods work for different people. Ideally, self-care is a period of time in which we let go of the worries of the world and focus on relaxing and reflecting on our inner selves or whatever is truly important to us.
Spirituality: Spirituality can be a great means of caring for oneself. Many people swear by the calming effects of meditation. I personally love contemplation. Either early in the morning or right before bed I like to sit by the window and just think about the greatness of the universe or I often spend this time thinking about everything that I am grateful for.
I personally believe in God so when I am going through a particularly difficult time I comfort myself by praying and whenever I am happy I thank Him for my blessings.
Pursue a passion project or a hobby: One of the goals of self-care is to enable you to forget about all of your worries for a while. Pursuing a hobby or anything else that you are passionate about is a great way to relieve stress. Ideally when we are doing something that we really enjoy we are in a state of flow, where we are so absorbed in what we are doing that our mind is only focused on that task and time flies right by.
Exercise: Trust me, I know that exercising is the last thing I think of as being relaxing. However, exercise is a proven mood booster thanks to the fact that increases our brains serotonin level which helps us feel happier.
Spend time in nature: I will be the first to admit that I spend way too much time sitting behind a screen. For our own health and well-being it is vital that we give our eyes and our brain a break by spending time outside. Try to go out for a walk or simply step outside and rest your eyes by looking at a tree, a bird, or the grass. Many people swear by the therapeutic effects of camping. Or you can go on a scenic hike with your friends or solo.
Spend some “me time”: This can include treating yourself to a spa or doing something else to pamper yourself once in a while. Your “me time” could be as simple as watching a movie or your favorite show on Netflix. I realize that watching TV may not be the ideal solution however, it can definitely be enjoyable and relaxing if done in moderation.
Feel free to choose any of these tips that you feel will work best for you or feel free to come up with your own self-care activity.