Positive Mindset

Positive Mindset: these strategies will help you strengthen your mental stability in difficult times too

In addition to physical hygiene (à la hand-washing), mental hygiene is equally essential in times of pandemic – and is a cornerstone of our mental health. Fortunately, it is up to us to do something that benefits our mind. A few practical tips and tools will help you get through your (working) day with greater positivity and calmness.

The months of lockdown – with the contact restrictions, working from home and home-schooling – have left their mark on many of us. According to a survey of 1,000 employees working from home, a quarter of respondents feel stressed and another 34% feel lonely. A good 40% of remote workers claimed to be tired and lethargic. Our experts at the Fürstenberg Institut are increasingly counselling people on topics such as psychological strain, exhaustion and stress. In many of these cases, corona plays a decisive role. The pandemic seems to have left us feeling powerless. “This feeling of impotence can assume an unhappy dynamic”, says Oliver Schieck, counsellor at the Fürstenberg Institut. “The good news is that it is in our own power to influence ourselves positively. And that is more important now than ever before.”
 

Oliver Schieck recommends a behavioural therapy tool for everyday use:

  • You need a small notebook so that you can draw up some simple tables. Lovers of all things digital can use a basic Excel document or a notes app.
  • Do a quick stock-take every day – and ask yourself, “How am I?”.
  • You can do this emotional stock-take in the morning, afternoon or evening – according to your daily rhythm. It is recommended, however, to stick to the same time of day.
  • Rate your daily feelings on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 means your daily form is bad, while 10 means that you are full of energy.
  • To be able to rate your daily condition, you can ask yourself questions like: “Did I sleep well?”, “Is there a pain in my back again?”, “Was I in a good mood this morning?”.
  • Then consider certain activities, special events and omissions from the day, such as: “did a calm yoga session”, “went for a walk in the woods”, “called my best friend during the lunch break”, “listened to some good music when I finished work”, “took a bath”. And don’t forget: “missed lunch”, “answered e-mails until late in the evening”, “got angry about the work WhatsApp group”.
  • Then you can move on swiftly to the analysis: “Why did I feel better on day X? Although I didn’t actually sleep all that well? Was it because of that lovely walk in the woods and the cool music I listened to after work?”. And the other way around: “Why was one day so bad? Was it really down to the workload? Or the fact that I skipped lunch so I could finish work earlier?”
  • When you have found out which activity, however small, had the most positive effect on your well-being, try to integrate it as a ritual into your daily life. And if possible, give less space to the stress factors. You will be surprised at how little you need to change to become stronger and more balanced.

    „Change starts with us as individuals“: TheDalai Lama. 
  • Keep working at this until it becomes automatic. Most people need two to four weeks.
seven Tipps

“These daily assessments will allow you to have a direct influence on your own mental health. And despite any sense of powerlessness you may feel due to the on-going pandemic, you will regain the ability to act for yourself, which is both liberating and empowering”, says Oliver Schieck. “The panacea here is self-reflection. Give yourself the 
time to test and benefit from this simple tool.” 

Another technique that the Fürstenberg counsellor suggests and can be easily integrated into daily life is this: keep a small diary of gratitude. He also recommends a little book for this and a pen that writes softly. “Give yourself a moment of gratitude in the evenings.” Write down the things you are grateful for – the small and the bigger things. “The effectiveness of this doesn’t matter if your gratitude refers to a pay rise, a coffee in the sunshine or a good chat with old friends”, adds Schieck. This gratitude ritual provides stability – in the same way that other rituals structure our daily lives. 

For those who have no interest in such calm rituals, the expert recommends movement. “Movement is the best psychotherapist of all”, says Oliver Schieck. When we are in movement, happiness hormones are automatically released, while the stress hormones – adrenaline and cortisol – recede of their own accord. This doesn’t have to be a full workout or lengthy jogging session. A long, brisk walk can also achieve the same effect.


Oliver Schiek

Oliver Schiek

Consultant and expert,, Fürstenberg Institut


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