Summer is over: How to return to work with a positive mindset

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Positive mindset

As summer draws to a close, we’re all thinking about the new starts and the return to school or work. Returning with a positive mindset will help to get the new season off to a flying (and enjoyable) start. But how can it be achieved?

What is a positive mindset?

According to Kendra Cherry at Very Well Mind, “positive thinking actually means approaching life’s challenges with a positive outlook. It does not necessarily mean avoiding or ignoring the bad things; instead, it involves making the most of the potentially bad situations, trying to see the best in other people, and viewing yourself and your abilities in a positive light.”

The definition includes an explanation of why having a positive mindset can be helpful at work: it helps you to get the best out of situations and people.

Starting with a positive mindset

According to Positive Psychology, the characteristics associated with a positive mindset, include optimism, acceptance, resilience, gratitude, mindfulness and integrity. By focusing on developing these traits, we can help to build and strengthen a positive mindset.

The importance of a positive mindset for leadership

Research shows that a leader with a positive mindset is more likely to be actively engaged and more able to perform at a high level. They are also more able to influence followers toward a more positive mindset through role modeling and normative influence.

Fostering a positive mindset in leaders, then, can help to foster a culture of positivity throughout the team.

The pressure to be positive

The downside to this is that the need to lead by example can add additional pressure for leaders must always be “on” and spend much of their time “performing” as a strong, confident leader.

However, the results of leading with positivity can counteract this effect: if everyone in the team adopts a more positive approach, they will be easier to lead and you avoid the situation where negative individuals become a drag on the performance of the team.

The need to avoid toxic positivity

Experts also warn about the importance of accepting both negative and positive occurrences within a positive mindset. Otherwise, you risk falling into “toxic positivity”.

The goal of toxic positivity is to reject and avoid everything negative and only see the positive side of things. Several studies have looked at the effects of this type of emotional invalidation. The conclusions are clear: it is very harmful to mental health. People who experience emotional invalidation are more likely to have depressive symptoms.

That’s why acceptance and resilience are important facets of a positive mindset. Being positive isn’t about only seeing the positive, its being positive about how you can deal with and move one from the negative too.

How to nurture a positive mindset

Practice optimism, acceptance, resilience, gratitude, mindfulness and integrity on a daily basis.

Journaling is a great way to nurture many of these traits. Affirmations are also a great way to nurture a positive mindset. Spending time with other positive people is a good way to recharge your batteries – as is protecting your downtime.

Ensure you maintain a good work-life balance to keep your positive mindset

As we’ve noted in an earlier article, over the years Business Optimizer has explored many techniques for creating a healthy mindset at work. From learning how to switch off at the end of the day, through improved time management, to taking the holiday leave to which you are entitled – one common thread that runs throughout is the need to achieve a better work-life balance.

COVID-19 has made achieving a good work-life balance more difficult because of the blurring of lines between “work” and “home” that happened during the pandemic. With so many of us returning to hybrid working arrangements, it’s really important to remind yourself how to create boundaries between work and life.

This can be as simple as turning off your devices at a set time and letting colleagues know you won’t respond after that point. To help delineate your day for yourself, one option might be to create a regular “commute” by listening to music, going for a walk or reading for half an hour.

Whatever it is, find the things that work for you and make them a regular part of your daily schedule.

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