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Tips & tricks (niet goed)

This is how you create a positive mindset

Woman expressing happiness and gratitude

Simple, but extremely effective. The way to create a positive mindset is to write down your personal highlights each day. Make this part of your evening routine – preferably writing on paper, for example a Gratitude Journal, and not a phone screen – or do it early in the morning, so you start the day on a positive note.

If you pause to think about positive things, you become calmer, happier and more sociable. In addition, people who write regularly in a gratitude journal have a stronger immune system, less high blood pressure, and fewer health issues. In itself, something to be grateful for.

This is how you create a positive mindset

Write down three things that you see as the highlights of your day. Be as detailed as possible, so don’t say: ”I had a good training session”, but instead: ”I was proud of the fact that I ran ten kilometers in an hour for the first time”. Robert Emmons, professor at the University of California, offers the following tips. Focus on people you are grateful for, not things. Research by his colleague Sonja Lyobomirsky has shown that gratitude for (acquiring) things does not really increase a positive mindset. Try to do a bit more, and spend a moment on what it would have meant to you if you had not experienced these highlights. And: focus on the surprising highlights. They stay with you for longer.

Woman sitting in bed writing in a gratitude journal to work on a positive mindset

Focus on positivity

If you train yourself to do this, you will benefit at many levels. You learn to focus on the positive aspects of your life, which makes us, says Emmons, more present in it. Negative emotions are neutralized. And there’s more: expressing gratitude helps to counter feelings of depression, British research has shown. The University of Manchester established that gratitude is an important predictor of general well-being. Grateful people have more self-confidence, and can handle stress better. Emmons did his research on over a thousand people who kept a gratitude journal, and found that they had fewer health issues, less high blood pressure and took better care of themselves. They exercised more frequently and slept better. How exactly you write down your gratitude does not make much difference. You can opt for a diary, a digital journal – Day One is nice and user friendly – or a special Gratitude Book, like the one from Ernst-Jan Pfauth 34 , a ”journal for a satisfied life”.

Woman expressing happiness and gratitude

Ensure you get a good night’s rest

Sleep

Two things are necessary for a good night’s rest: switch off all screens in good time beforehand – at a minimum your phone and your computer – and make sure you allow yourself eight hours’ sleep. Adults require between seven and nine hours of sleep.

For a long time, people believed that it was the blue light of screen exposure that disrupted production of the melatonin sleep hormone. Things actually appear to be more complicated than that: it depends on what are you doing on-screen. Stimulation from your email, apps and social media can keep you awake, while a relaxing TV program can send you right to sleep.

Person using the remote control to turn on the tv

Good night’s rest is vital

Research involving nearly 400,000 people in the UK, found at the end of 2019 24 that people who sleep well have a lower body mass index (BMI), smoke less and exercise more. Sleeping well keeps you fit.

The Trimbos-institute prescribes seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Less is not good, but neither is more: sleeping too much or too little is related to obesity, diabetes, cancer, strokes and depression. According to Trimbos it is mainly women, young people, people with an immigrant background and the elderly who sleep poorly. For older people there is a proven cause: as you get older, your biological clock works less efficiently which means among other things, you sleep less well.

Is blue light the bad guy?

Blue light was also regarded for a long time as an important cause of sleep problems. The glow from mobile phones and tablets was said to disrupt the production of melatonin, the hormone that takes care of your sleep-wake cycle. Anyone who sits looking at their phone until late at night can expect to fall asleep less quickly.

However, closer research by the Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) has shown that the finger was pointed too quickly at blue light as the bad guy. Sleep problems are generally not caused by the blue light – which normally is not bright enough to wreak havoc on hormone management – but rather by the information that is relayed on the screens which the RIVM refers to as ”cognitive load”.

Young man sitting in bed at night looking at his laptop

Your brain just needs a little time to relax after all the stimulation that you receive if you are sitting interacting with your phone.

Another reason that the use of phones can lead to a lack of sleep is ”time displacement”: the screens are so addictive that you blindly spend longer sitting staring at your phone than you really meant to, which means you go to sleep later.

For TV viewers, the researchers found that the opposite was true: anyone watching TV just before going to bed actually seemed to get a better night’s sleep. Watching TV, they suspect, is just much more relaxing than apps – but don’t go and binge watch a cliffhanger series.