Who doesn’t want to feel good, right? We all want to feel joyful, calm, optimistic, hopeful, and largely positive.
But, days can be so unpredictable. Something may happen in a span of a few minutes and end up derailing the track of our good mood. What do we do then?
This is what this post is about. Today we will learn some positive thinking exercises that we can try out to improve our moods and feeling of thoughts.
But, before I begin, I want to set something straight. This is NOT a good vibes only type of blog.
I will never advise you to run away from sadness.
In fact, I think it is an important part of a good life and contributes to long-term genuine happiness.
We cannot expect and aim to always feel happy and positive. We must always remember that the essence of the human experience is in its diversity.
So, yes, we will experience a multitude of emotions. What we can do though is learn how to stabilize ourselves.
In times when we realize we’ve been stuck, been negative, and need to do better, we can take the support of positive thinking exercises.
So here I am listing 15 super simple and straightforward exercises for positive thinking and activities that can turn toward to uplift your mood and lighten your mind.
Positive Thinking Exercises
- Do a brain dump
- Do something you like
- Play board games
- Move your body
- Help somebody out
- Dive into nostalgia
- Listen to positive affirmations
- Practice self-reflection
- Sing some tunes
- Take a nap
- Go on a drive
- Learn something new
- Do gratitude journaling
- Do a deep breathing exercise
- Listen to guided meditations
1. Do a brain dump
When you feel that your head is too heavy with thoughts and worries, a brain dump is really helpful.
Now, it’s up to you how you want to do that, you can write it down (which is what I prefer), record your voice, or talk to yourself in the mirror.
What’s needed is to let everything out and make your brain feel lighter.
Many times I have written pages on pages with my worried scribbles and felt lighter. It’s a cathartic experience.
2. Do something you like
What do you enjoy doing? Maybe it's tending to your plants, going on a walk with your pets, watching The Office, drawing in your sketchbook, or anything else.
When you feel low, let yourself do something you like. Give time to your hobbies. When we were younger, that's all we wanted to do. Let's do that more now.
3. Play board games
Playing board games and even video games have been shown to help in reducing stress and growing feelings of calmness and enthusiasm.
They're also really fun and serve as a great bonding activity with your friends and family.
4. Move your body (science)
There is evidence to support the advice that exercising helps improve our mood and mental health.
Exercise improves mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and negative mood and by improving self-esteem and cognitive function.
Aerobic exercises, including jogging, swimming, cycling, walking, gardening, and dancing, have been proved to reduce anxiety and depression.
So, go on a walk or run, or take out your bike, feel the air on your face and let this freshness boost your spirits.
5. Help somebody out
“The best antidote I know for worry is work. The best cure for weariness is the challenge of helping someone who is even more tired.
One of the great ironies of life is this: He or she who serves almost always benefits more than he or she who is served.”
― Gordon B. Hinckley
There is joy in helping others. It takes off our focus from ourselves and directs it on empowering the lives around us.
Some amount of unconcern for ourselves ends up benefiting us, reducing worries, and extending our hand to life someone else up.
6. Dive into nostalgia
Memories are powerful. The time that we once lived lives in our minds eternally.
A great exercise to do is to go where you keep your old photo albums and turn their pages.
The sweetness of memories and the innocence of that time can be something that helps make you feel better.
7. Listen to positive affirmations
You may also want to try out listening to some soothing and calming affirmations.
Positive affirmations are helpful and empowering words that you say to yourself in response to a situation or feeling.
Examples of positive affirmations are:
- Wonderful things are going to happen to me.
- I can take deep breaths.
- With every breath, I feel stronger.
- I can do anything.
- It is enough to do my best.
- I can be anything I want to be.
- I accept who I am.
- I believe in myself.
- I am proud of myself.
- I deserve to be happy.
You can discover more of these in the Gratitude app and listen to guided sessions.
8. Practice self-reflection
I deeply appreciate the activity of understanding myself with the help of self-reflection.
Posing questions to yourself and figuring out the answers as you attempt to answer them is a beautiful exercise.
Self-reflection might not only make you feel better but also clearer. And, it is the lack of clarity that troubles our minds and complicates our lives.
Here are some self-reflection journal prompts that can help you get going:
- What makes you feel calm?
- What makes you feel in control?
- What makes you feel powerful?
- How do you encourage yourself when you're trying something new?
- How do you stay focused and steer clear of distractions?
- How do you savor the time you get alone?
- How do you swap envy for joy when other people accomplish things?
- How do you set boundaries and avoid absorbing someone else's emotions and stress?
- How do you trust yourself to make big decisions?
- How do you forgive yourself when you make a mistake?
- How do you advocate for yourself?
9. Sing some tunes
When people don't understand us and nor do we, music is there.
Music always understands. I am sure that you have songs that you know by heart and sing along to.
I am a long-time Taylor Swift listener. These days I'm really liking Lizzy McAlpine's music.
When I want music to help me, I go into a room and play those songs and sing with them. It really helps...
Taking time out to deeply be in an activity like this really helps.
10. Take a nap
“A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.”
— Irish Proverb
I totally agree. Many times what we need is rest. To unplug for some time and just sleep.
Sleep and mental health are closely connected. So, lie down, let go of what's on your mind, and let your body have a sweet relaxing slumber.
11. Go on a long drive
Long drives on smooth roads, walls of tall trees, sky peaking through the canopy, cool wind, and sweet tunes - that's the image of a positive experience.
If you're the type of person who loves to go on long drives, this is a great positive thinking exercise for you.
To think positively, we don't necessarily do something heavy, we only need to clear the space taken by negative thoughts and let ourselves breathe.
A clean and organized room naturally feels more positive than a jam-packed, cluttered one.
12. Learn something new
You remember that feeling of curiosity when you encounter something new and want to learn more about it.
When we are intrigued and inquisitive, we have so many questions, we want to understand.
So, is there something that has intrigued you lately and you want to learn about that more?
For example, I've been taking a course on Sustainable Development on Coursera lately and also learning how to make patterns on Procreate.
Try this out. With the Internet, there are so many avenues for learning, it's really a miracle.
13. Do gratitude journaling
People who regularly express gratitude for the positive things in their life are shown to be happier overall, leading to lower rates of stress and depression.
And, one of the most recommended ways of practicing gratitude is through gratitude journaling.
Here are some gratitude journal prompts that you can try out:
- Write about a time when you laughed uncontrollably.
- Appreciate a friend who lives far away but is dear to you.
- What is the best gift that you have ever received?
- Write about a movie that touched your heart, and why.
- Write about someone that you really admire.
- Appreciate a refreshing walk that you had in nature.
- What do you like most about yourself?
- What do you love most about the time you are living in?
- Express gratitude for having as much food as you need.
- Appreciate the vehicles that let you travel long distances.
14. Do a deep breathing exercise
Slow, deep breathing is proven have a positive impact on our mood and mental health.
You can follow this video to do a breathing exercise:
Pranayama is an ancient breath technique that originates from yogic practices in India. It involves controlling your breath in different styles and lengths.
Here is a guided video to help you practice pranayama:
15. Listen to guided meditations
Guided meditations are a boon. In a span of 5-15 minutes, they can help us completely transform the state of our mind and therefore make a great positive thinking exercise.
Meditation can produce a deep state of relaxation and a tranquil mind. When we meditate, we clear away the information overload that builds up every day and contributes to our stress.
Here is a guided meditation video that you can try out to improve your mood:
And, that's it! I hope you found these exercises helpful. Try them out based on what feels natural to you first and then move on to others.
Also, share this with the people that might need it. We all need to learn how to feel better with exercises.
👉 Continue Reading: 14 Real Ways to Show Compassion to Others and Yourself