Health & Wellness

Change how you think

How you think determines how you feel, which determines what you do, so adopting a healthier thinking style makes good sense. Here are three strategies to try.
Published 15 December 2016

Helpful thinking strategies to try

1. Try to challenge negative thoughts

If you tend to be a cup-half-empty sort of person, it may be time to question yourself more. Pessimists expect the worst, but this could stop you taking action towards a positive outcome. One idea to combat this is to challenge your negative thoughts. So try keeping a book and two pens – one red and one black – in your bag. Every time you have a negative thought, write it down in black ink, and next to it, in red, list a number of possible outcomes.

For example, when you think, ‘I ate the chocolate bar – that’s this week ruined, I’m never going to reach my Goal!’ you could stop and consider other possible outcomes, like, ‘I ate the chocolate bar – but I’ve tracked it, and I know one food choice doesn’t define my whole week, or determine whether I’ll reach Goal or not!’

Leading success strategist, author and motivational speaker, Robin Sieger says: “The more open-minded you train yourself to be, the more likely you are to create opportunities and possibilities, rather than worst-case scenarios.”

2. Believe that you can succeed

In a study conducted in the Netherlands, researchers monitored people on a weight-loss plan for eight weeks, examining their beliefs about whether they would be successful at losing weight. Those who believed it was possible, if they changed their behaviour, lost significantly more than those who thought their weight problems stemmed from physical reasons they didn’t have any control over.

So, how and what you think could be powerful, when it comes to your get-healthy plans. “Most people approach weight loss with hope, rather than belief, that they’ll lose weight and this can cancel out the hard work.” Regularly say to yourself, ‘I can do this!’.

3. Be aware of the ‘don’t worry, be happy’ approach

Doing what you can to stress less and quit worrying about things unnecessarily is a healthy thing to strive for, but it pays not to go too much the other way, too. In other words, being overly optimistic that things will get better, without putting a plan in place around how to make them better, isn’t setting yourself up for success.

For example saying to yourself, ‘I was a bit late for work again today – tomorrow I’ll be on time,’ without setting your alarm earlier, or doing something to help you get out the door faster tomorrow morning, isn’t likely to get a different result.

Likewise, saying, ‘I ate more than I'd planned to today, but that’s okay, tomorrow I’ll get back on track,’ without planning your meals or making a commitment to track your food isn’t giving yourself the best chance possible to achieve a different outcome tomorrow.

A better approach is to decide how you’re going to do things differently and create some tangible, doable strategies to help get you across the line.

For example, 'I ate more than I'd planned to today. To help prevent the same thing happening tomorrow, I'll plan tomorrow's meals tonight and track them ahead of time, so I'll be more likely to stick to my daily budget.'