Back in the beginning of 2012, I was faced with a rude awakening.
I began experiencing panic attacks.
To say they were terrifying is an understatement. I wouldn’t wish those on my worst enemy. Little did I know that at the time I was dealing with postpartum anxiety and depression after having my second son in October of 2011. But at the time, all I can remember thinking is wanting it to end.
I wasn’t sure what “it” was, and that was the scary part.
Fast forward 4 years, and those dark days feel like a million years ago. While I learned so much about myself, I’m also very thankful they’re in the past and hope to never revisit them for the rest of my days. (I still pray to be “depression and anxiety free” every single morning.)
I do believe staying anxiety and depression free is a daily thing. And I believe it starts with one simple choice.
It really is as simple as that, my friends. Though at times I know that it can feel nearly impossible.
As the mother, we have the incredible ability to set the mood of the entire house. Just like that, our children and spouse can go from being happy to depressed with a simple word from us. That’s how very important our mindset is…not only for ourselves, but for those we love most.
Just like many things in life, remaining positive is a choice. Choosing to have a positive outlook changes my perspective on everything. It gives me the strength to face the day.
Here are a few things I regularly do to keep a positive mindset.
1. I make the choice to be positive.
About a year ago, my son (who was 3 at the time) decided to “practice” writing his name and demonstrate his self-portrait artwork with a Sharpie all over our ottoman. You would have thought I’d be livid, right? And maybe on a different day I would have been. While I did try not to show my reaction to him (because I didn’t want him to think I was giving him free rein to do it again), inwardly I thought it was hilarious! The fact that my 3 year old perfectly wrote his name, in Sharpie no less, perfectly BACKWARD had me on the floor.
This could have easily turned into a disaster, solely based on my reaction. In all honesty, it wasn’t that big of a deal- the ottoman was inexpensive, very old, and raggedy around the edges. It needed to go anyway. But regardless, I decided to focus on the positive of the situation- to see the humor and the fact that my 3 year old just wrote his name! (Don’t worry, he did get in trouble and understood that we never write on anything but paper.) But this situation definitely had the potential to wreck my mood and mindset for the remainder of the day, and thus effect the mood of my entire family.
Because I chose to have a positive reaction to a negative situation, I was able to stabilize my reaction, and not stress out the rest of the household.
2. I stay away from things that bring me down.
Two huge examples of things that bring me down fast: the news and Facebook.
First off, I don’t watch or read the news. Seriously.
It’s so hard not to let the world around us bring us down, hardcore. I know if I’m not careful, I can very easily go from hearing a depressing news story to being deeply, negatively effected by it for the rest of the week!
After dealing with the debilitating depression and anxiety, I realized I could not, for my own mental good and sake of my family, ever listen or watch the news.
And to this day, I don’t willingly watch or listen to the news. I have heard it said that this is naive, or that “sticking my head in the sand” won’t change anything. And that’s true. But what I do know is whether or not I know about it also won’t change the fact that it’s happening. I need to be the absolute best wife and mother I can be. That is my number one priority, no questions asked. I cannot do that if I’m consistently, day in and day out, dealing with anxiety or depression. So in order to make sure remaining optimistic is an easier thing, I stay away from the news.
Secondly, I don’t have or use a personal Facebook account.
Okay, I do have a Facebook that I just got for my blog (Hi, all 25 of my followers! 🙂 ), because as a blogger if you want to stand any sort of chance in blogging, it’s pretty much an essential. But to be honest, I really struggled with accepting that. I don’t have any Facebook friends, I don’t follow anyone, and I only belong to one blogging group.
My reasons for this are numerous, but the biggest reason is because I believe not a whole lot of good comes from Facebook. I’ve had a Facebook account in the past, and it was filled with nothing but negative news stories, political rants, and narcissism that I had no desire to be a part of.
It can really drag me down. Many days with my past Facebook account I would end up feeling down and depressed the rest of the day. Therefore, I know that Facebook is another item that does not add to my life.
Maybe for you, there are different things that bring you down, stress you out, or cause you to worry. Whatever they may be, learn what they are and make the choice to avoid them to the best of your ability.
3. On the flip side, I make sure to surround myself with positive people and things.
I purposefully surround myself with people who will add value to my life by being upbeat and positive.
My husband is one of these people. I am very blessed to have a husband who always sees, and works really hard to show me, the positive aspects of life. He’s constantly reminding me of what’s truly important. It is one of the things I love the very most about him.
Another example of this is that I try to listen to Christian music as much as possible. Even if you’re not a Christian, Christian music is always positive and upbeat. It breaths life into my day, and it reminds me to focus on the positive things. I play it at work, if I’m able, and in my children’s rooms at night on their alarm clock in sleep mode. It’s usually the first station I turn to, and I rarely listen to anything else.
4. I focus on the positives.
I didn’t used to do this – I didn’t really know how – and that’s part of the reason why I used to be so deeply affected by the negative: I would dwell on it.
I now know that I can’t put my energy into the things that drag me down, rather I must focus on the positives in my life.
This means that instead of getting all worked up over a mistake, I will respond with grace. Instead of focusing on the terrible attitude that person has, I will ignore it altogether. Instead of being frustrated that my husband has to work late again, I will remind myself to be happy that he gets to come home tonight. This means that instead of dwelling on how little sleep I got last night being up with the baby and how incredibly tired I am, I will be happy that I have 3 healthy children to wake up to every day.
I truly couldn’t ask for more.
5. I make a list of everything I’m thankful for.
This, my friends, gets me every time. How can I NOT respond to what life throws at me when I feel I have been blessed beyond what I deserve.
I can always find something to be thankful for, even on the hardest day.
6. I keep my eyes on Jesus.
And if none of these things work to lift me out of a funk and keep me focused on the positives, I lift my eyes to Jesus. Literally.
Sometimes I have to physically lift my head to look up at the Heavens. I WILL keep my eyes on Jesus. Knowing that He has it all under control makes it SO much easier to focus on all the good things in life.
It’s taken me several years to learn these things- to realize that it really works, and can have an enormous impact not only in my life, but my children and husband’s lives as well – those that are closest to me.
Remember, as the mother and woman of the house, we have this unique, incredible (sometimes scary!) ability to set the tone and mood for everyone else. It’s so important that the vibes I’m giving out to my kids and husband – the dearest people in my life – are good ones!
I still have my days, and it truly is a daily mindset choice for me. But I’ve come so far from the girl I was just a few short years ago. These 6 things help tremendously in my everyday interactions.
What are some things you do to remain positive?
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