With long days full of challenges, switching gears, and dinner plans you probably can’t remember what you had for breakfast, let alone the personal goals you set this morning. Not making progress with being more mindful, optimistic or focused? Do you find those positivity exercises would be more beneficial in the afternoon than in the morning? How can we really stay on track with positive mindset changes throughout the day?
Since the early 1900’s anxiety, depression, stress, and burnout have steadily increased in young Americans. Levels seemed to have hit an exceedingly high plateau in recent years. To escape the ongoing list of symptoms that come with these conditions, many of us have turned to medication to find relief..only to find a heap of new side effects sending us through new challenging and stressful obstacles.
Caught between a rock and a hard place, we can only take a step back and think, “there’s got to be a better way”. Why did we feel this way to begin with? Wouldn’t it make sense to figure out why before masking it with medication? The best solution cannot have side effects like this, can it? Are there other options? We are looking for alternative solutions to feeling better.
Alternative solutions are what more and more are turning to. Even those who don’t suffer from these conditions are finding they are less aware at work, at home, or in each moment, almost living life in a dream on fast-forward.
So many of us want to make positive changes in our mindset and outlook that make us more mindful, efficient, optimistic, productive, or happy. There are numerous morning exercises for starting the day off with good intentions: reciting positive affirmations, reviewing a goals list, working out, and gratitude journaling. While these are shown to make positive impact, they just get your morning going in the right direction. What happens when you get hit with shortened deadlines at work, you get a flat tire on your way back from lunch, or you end up at working two hours late only to come home to no food in the fridge..are you still working on that runner’s high? or thinking of your gratitude journal? or remembering how close you are to those goals? Probably not!
This is a pattern I found in myself. Starting my morning with positivity and healthy habits definitely helped my mood, but it wasn’t enough to keep that mindset going all day. In order to make a new mindset a habit, we have to exercise it throughout the day.
Many psychologists suggest the use of visualization to put your mind in a state of peace, contentment, and lower stress. Your mind doesn’t know the difference between thinking of a situation and actually experiencing that situation. If you remember a particularly peaceful moment and fully delve into that memory, your body will begin to revert back to how you felt in that moment- relaxed, content, in-the-moment. You can use moments and memories like this to reset your mind and body on a positive, motivated, or mindful track.
Visual cues are used in education, design, sales, speech therapy, communication, reading, and psychology. They are powerful. Visual cues are reminders or signals that bring to mind knowledge from previous experiences. Designers use lines, arrows, and triangles to direct your gaze toward an object. Colors can be visual cues: orange meaning “pay attention” or “take caution”, red meaning “stop”, green meaning “go”. You can use visual cues to spark a calming effect on yourself, to get refocused, or to take mindful breaks.
Using visual cues as reminders to ourselves throughout the day can help us be more consistent with our goals. Many say it takes a minimum of 21 days for an old mental image to dissolve and a new one to stick. Some say it takes 66 days to form a new habit. Getting a new mindset to stick is even more complicated because of how much our mindset can fluctuate throughout the day. Being reminded to revert to a new mindset multiple times a day instead of just once a day (in the morning, during a break, etc) will be more successful in becoming a new resting state of thinking.
I worked to embody this idea in Annelle Design’s scarf line. I used visual cues of natural colors and patterns known to spark feelings of calm, rejuvenation, peace, and contentment. When you wear a scarf around your neck, on your bag, or hang it on your wall, you think of it intermittently all day long! It’s not just a “once in the morning and let’s hope that helps” situation. Wearing these scarves can serve as a reminder to take periodic moments of visualization- visualizing moments we’ve experienced in nature that are similar to the colors and patterns in the scarf. Consistently taking moments of visualization and mindfulness throughout your day will help to make positivity, mindfulness, calm, and motivation a part of your natural state.