Staying Optimistic

optimism-drew-geraetsBlog post by Colin Hung

This week marks the beginning of very interesting time in world politics. Regardless of whether you support Mr. Trump or not, there can be no doubt that his Presidency will usher in a time of tremendous change.

I don’t believe anyone can predict what will happen in the next four years – any more than we could when President Obama first took office back in 2009 – but one thing I am sure of: we will make it through the next four years. Despite the divisive sentiment that permeates the media and the halls of power, I believe that common sense and decency will eventually win. I’m choosing to stay optimistic – because frankly what else is there?

Optimism in tough times is a rare commodity, but it is exactly what will sustain us through times of uncertainty. Being positive is hard, until you realize that the one of the things you can control is how you fact the day ahead. Thinking positively not only helps you get through a tough day, it also has an impact on your overall health. According to Mayo Clinic, positive thinking may provide:

  • Increased life span
  • Lower rates of depression
  • Lower levels of distress
  • Greater resistance to the common cold
  • Better psychological and physical well-being
  • Reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
  • Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress

So how do people stay positive when there is so much negativity surrounding us? One of the most effective ways is to simply avoid negative talk. Stop watching negative news reports, stop reading media that boils your blood – in short, choose to tune out the things that bring you down.  Instead, surround yourself with as much positivity as you can: get together with friends, read fiction, listen to music, exercise, etc.

The Huffington Post has a great piece “12 Tips to Stay Optimistic in Tough Times” and includes one particularly interesting tip:

Take the Focus off of Yourself. One of the best ways to boost your mood as well as your self-esteem is to take the focus off of yourself and focus on someone else. Try to do five nice things for other people every day. Don’t expect immediate payback, just remember that what goes around comes around.

It can be as simple as paying it forward at your local Starbucks or holding the door open for the person behind you, it doesn’t have to be something “big”. I think I will make sure to do more of this in the months to come.

Staying optimistic in healthcare is especially difficult given the pressures of the work environment. Doctors, nurses and administrators have to navigate tough days every day while trying to an outwardly positive attitude for their patients. It’s a tough thing to ask – which is why we have a growing burnout problem. What can we do to help? What can we do to stay positive in these times – especially in healthcare?

Join us on the next #hcldr chat, Tuesday January 17th at 8:30pm Eastern (for your local time click here) when we will be discussing optimism in healthcare:

  • T1 What gives you hope/optimism for healthcare in 2017?
  • T2 How do you stay optimistic when times are tough? Share your tips!
  • T3 Does social media play a role in optimism? Is it positive or negative in your opinion?
  • T4 What can healthcare leaders/orgs do to help docs, nurses & staff stay optimistic?

P.S. We recognize that state of mind is sometimes not totally within our control. Depression affects many people and cannot be address by simply adopting a “positive outlook”. For the purposes of this chat we are not discussing how to address depression, but rather how one can remain optimistic in these uncertain times.

References

“12 Tips to Stay Optimistic in Tough Times”, Mario Thomas, Huffington Post, 18 July 2013, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marlo-thomas/12-tips-for-staying-optimistic_b_3611951.html, accessed 15 January 2017

“Positive thinking: Stop negative self-talk to reduce stress”, Mayo Clinic, http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/positive-thinking/art-20043950, accessed 15 January 2017

“Optimism and your health”, Harvard Health Publications, May 2008, http://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/optimism-and-your-health, accessed 15 January 2017

“Stay Optimistic, Live Longer?”, Nicholas Bakalar, New York Times, 7 December 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/07/well/mind/stay-optimistic-live-longer.html?_r=0, accessed 15 January 2017

“Optimism of health care workers during a disaster: a review of the literature”, Boldor et al, Emerging Health Threats, 24 January 2012, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3267412/, accessed 15 January 2017

“Being Positive: perceptions of patients with cancer and their nurses”, O’Baugh et al, Journal of Advanced Nursing, 16 July 2003, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/227827646_Positive_attitude_in_cancer_The_nurse’s_perspective, accessed 15 January 2017

“How nurses and their work environment affect patient experiences of the quality of care”, Kieft et al, BMC Health Services Research, 13 June 2014, http://bmchealthservres.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1472-6963-14-249, accessed 15 January 2017

“How Nurses Impact the Mental and Physical Well-Being of Patients”, Mental Health Matters, 18 April 2015, http://mental-health-matters.com/how-nurses-impact-the-mental-and-physical-well-being-of-patients/, accessed 15 January 2017

Image Credit

Optimism – Drew Geraets https://flic.kr/p/5ZvuE9

 

One comment

  1. I hope that ‘common sense and decency will eventually win’ Colin. The challenge, IMO, is that common sense is very uncommon and too often overtaken by agendas, politics, special interests and often just plain greed and lust for power.

    IMO, another 4 or 8 years of what we’ve had for the last couple decades is exactly what the U.S. does not need! We desperately need massive upheaval. I’m certain there will be a lot of pain along the way. No pain. No gain for the American Public.

    And I realize you’re Canadian and not as impacted as we down here.

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