When you’re feeling stressed, anxious or perhaps even depressed, as so many are right now, it doesn’t help to be told you just need to "look on the bright side" or "think more positively". Changing a well-established mindset is a considerable challenge, but you can do it. You’ll need four key assets: patience, determination, persistence, and self-kindness.

Here’s a realistic plan:

Start each day the night before. Just before you get into bed, write two things that went well or that you’re grateful for that day, and make a note of one thing you’re looking forward to tomorrow. Planning something positive will make the next day seem brighter.

Begin every day with light and movement. Natural light and exercise boost endorphins, which lift mood. Find time every morning to get outside and take a short walk for at least 20 minutes.

Smile, even if you have to work at it. The mere act of forming a smile can induce positive feelings.

Make a social connection every day. Numerous studies have demonstrated the benefits of spending time with others. Use the occasion to ask about the other person. If you show genuine interest you’ll soon find they’re initiating contact with you.

Find a way to be helpful. Volunteering has been found to be positively associated with psychological wellbeing and physical health.

Be patient. Don’t make the common mistake of giving up too soon. The median time needed for a new behaviour to become automatic is 66 days.

The Daily Telegraph

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