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Self-Care on a Budget

By: Emily Roberts

Self-care on a budget is possible. In fact, most acts of emotional self-care don’t cost a thing. Self-care is simply the practice of treating yourself with enough respect that you honor and fulfill your own needs as they arise. Self-care on a budget is entirely possible.

We often make excuses not to practice self-care because it’s too timely or expensive. We fall into the habit of putting others before ourselves and this weighs heavy on our self-esteem.

Self-care isn’t something that you can just put off until you have more time or money. Your brain, body, family and self-esteem suffer when you don’t take time to tune in to your needs. It’s not selfish, it’s necessary. Self-care is a very active and powerful choice to engage in the activities that are required to gain or maintain an optimal level of overall health. If that feels like it’s costly, remember it doesn’t have to be. You can engage in self-care on a budget.

It’s not always possible to get away for a vacation or spend the money on a day of relaxation, and you don’t need to. Self-care is a daily activity and you can incorporate it into your routine no matter how busy you are. Here are a few ideas that you can try for practicing self-care on a budget.

15 Ideas for Self-Care on a Budget

First ask yourself what are my needs? What would make you feel more positive right now? What is something that your brain and body need from you today? When you neglect these very basic and primal needs, due to money or guilt, you’re not serving others or yourself. A few minutes a day, just for you, can make a huge change in your well-being.

  • Make that doctors or dentist appointment you’ve been neglecting.
  • Go for a walk or enjoy your favorite workout if your body needs some movement. Any sort of exercise will release endorphins, your body will thank you and it clears your head which is very important for feeling relaxed and revitalized.
  • Connect with someone you care about. Call them, make plans with a friend or relative, or email someone you’ve wanted to reconnect with.
  • Do something today that will help you tomorrow. Pack your bag for work the night before, make your lunch, organize your planner. It may seem like work but it’s actually going to help you feel more at ease and relaxed the next day.
  • Find a scent you love. Aromatherapy can be under 10 dollars. Infuse your home or your car with a soothing scent that will improve your mood.
  • Buy your favorite food. Lots of parents fall prey to buying what their kids and families want to eat. But what about you? Do you want a particular cheese or fresh squeezed orange juice? Add it to the cart.
  • Read a book or article for pleasure.
  • Drink more water. Instead of beating yourself up for never drinking enough, remind yourself that water is something your body and brain love and need.
  • Block or hide people who bother you on social media. There is no shame in blocking people who hurt your feelings or who are filling your social media with annoying comments or pictures. You’ll feel better, and they don’t have to know (When To Get Rid of Social Media Relationships).
  • Give yourself a hug. Yes, this sounds silly, but sometimes the comfort of a three-second hug can help you appreciate yourself a little more.
  • Listen to an awesome song. Something that makes you want to smile, dance or helps you remember a positive time in your life.
  • Listen to a podcast. If the news on the radio or tunes in your car are boring you, don’t waste your time or mood on them. Find your favorite podcast to download, they are free.
  • Journal. It reconnects you with your goals and purpose.
  • Give yourself the gift of more time. Wake up a little earlier to meditate, breathe, read the paper, or do some yoga. If you plan ahead, it is always possible to find a way to give yourself some extra time. More time to sleep or a longer lunch hour.
  • Go to the park and look at the clouds. Meditate, practice mindfulness or just take a walk. Enjoy the luxury of being in nature.

You have to take time for yourself, it’s necessary for building self-esteem, feeling healthy and taking care of others.

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By: Nicolas Cole

Humans are not meant to stop growing. In fact, no living thing on earth is meant to stop growing. We are all alive, reaching for the sun.

Progress in life is all about reinvention. I am going to preface all of this by saying that reinvention is not the same thing as endlessly seeking reward or achievement. There is a difference. Seeking an achievement usually implies an “end.” You win the trophy and then you’re “done.” That’s not what you want to aim for–because as soon as you say you’re “done,” you are no longer reaching and stretching yourself, which means you stop growing.

Reinvention, however, leaves the end open–which is actually a good thing. Reinvention is what allows you endless opportunities to continue exploring new parts of yourself. Exploration is growth, and growth in this sense is not outward facing but inward.

Whenever you find something about yourself you want to change, you need to look for a way to reinvent it.

1. See yourself outside yourself.

Imagine you are a sculptor. A sculptor looks at his or her piece of stone and endlessly questions new ways to shape it. And if he or she thinks of something to change, there is no emotional attachment. They just do it. This is how you need to see yourself–as a work of art, always in progress. No need to get upset, or come down hard on yourself when you see something you do not like. Instead, like an artist, just get to work.
2. Find the habit associated with the thing you want to change.

Far too often, people focus too much on the thing they want to change instead of the habits that formed the thing in the first place. For example: They try to solve being overweight with doing a lot of ab exercises, without acknowledging that the problem is their poor diet. To truly reinvent aspects of yourself, you have to find the habit that created that trait in the first place–and then adjust the habit.

3. Practice every day, no matter what.

Change is not something you do some days and then take a break from other days. Change is a shift in lifestyle. It requires daily dedication, to the point where that new habit takes the place of an old one and no longer requires conscious effort.

4. Set realistic goals.

You can’t just wake up one morning and say, “I’m not going to be impatient anymore!” Yes, you are. And you actually help yourself by acknowledging that a bad habit like that won’t be solved immediately. Instead, set the goal to be more patient during your team meeting that happens every morning. Use that as an isolated practice space and subconscious reminder of what it is you want to practice. Focus on that for a few weeks, and then go from there.

5. Constantly look in the mirror.

Things get dangerous when you refuse to stop and really look at yourself–when you avoid self-reflection. There is a time and a place for “go go go” mode, and then there is a time and place for reflection mode. Both are necessary. And you will quickly find that unless you take the time to ask yourself the tough questions, you will fall off track and not know how you got there.

6. Surround yourself with people who will tell you the truth.

If everyone around you is telling you “yes,” then you have a serious problem. You need people who are going to challenge and question you. You need people who won’t be afraid to tell you the truth. Tough feedback is essential for personal growth.

7. You have to take risks.

You will never become the person you want to be by continuing to be the person you currently are. Growth’s only request is that you step out of your comfort zone. That’s it. And unless you are willing to take that risk, to take that uncomfortable leap into the unknown, you will forever stay exactly where you are.

Summary

Reinvention is an art. It is a process. It is not a “quick fix” or an “overnight solution.” It is a deliberate practice, day in and day out, until you realize who it is you want to be, you already were all along.

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10 Tips for Eating Healthy on a Budget

By: National Institute on Aging

Even when you know what healthy foods to choose, being able to pay for them can be hard, especially if you are on a fixed income. Start by deciding how much you can afford to spend on food.

There are websites that can help you plan a food budget. For example, the U.S. Department of Agriculture supports Iowa State University’s Spend Smart-Eat Smart. This website also has inexpensive recipes based on the Dietary Guidelines.

Once you have a budget, find store ads in the newspaper or grocery store websites to see what is on sale. Try to plan some meals around featured items and pick up some extra canned goods or staples that are on sale. And check the expiration or use-by date. A product might be on sale because it is almost out of date. Choose items with dates farthest in the future.

While shopping, make use of these budget-wise 10 tips.

  • Ask about discounts. Ask your local grocery stores if they have a senior discount or a loyalty or discount card. Besides getting items at a lower price, you may also get store coupons.
  • Use coupons when you can. Remember, coupons only help if they are for things you would buy anyway. Sometimes, another brand costs less even after you use the coupon.
  • Consider store brands—they usually cost less. These products are made under a special label, sometimes with the store name. You might have to look on shelves that are higher or lower than eye level to find them.
  • Be aware that convenience costs more. You can often save money if you are willing to do a little work. For example, buy whole chickens and cut them into parts, shred or grate your own cheese, and avoid instant rice or instant oatmeal. Bagged salad mixes cost more and might not stay fresh as long as a head of lettuce.
  • Look at unit prices. Those small stickers on the shelves tell you the price but also the unit price—how much the item costs per ounce or per pound. Compare unit prices to see which brand is the best value.
  • Try to buy in bulk, but only buy a size you can use before it goes bad. If you buy meat in bulk, decide what you need to use that day and freeze the rest in portion-sized packages right away.
  • Focus on economical fruits and vegetables like bananas, apples, oranges, cabbage, sweet potatoes, dark-green leafy vegetables, green peppers, and regular carrots.
  • Think about the foods you throw away. For less waste, buy or cook only what you need.
  • Resist temptations at the check-out. Those snack foods and candy are put there for impulse buying. Save money and avoid empty calories!
  • Sign up for meal delivery. While some older people have trouble finding enough money to buy food, others need help preparing meals. There are a variety of groups around the country that deliver meals to people who have trouble getting out of their homes. These groups usually offer one hot meal a day. One of the largest is Meals on Wheels America.
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By: American Psychological Association

Most people are creatures of habit. When things go as planned, we feel in control. But when life throws a curve ball, it can leave us feeling anxious and stressed. For many Americans life feels particularly uncertain lately, with an unconventional presidential administration, social protests in the news and uncertainty in the aftermath of natural disasters such as hurricanes and wildfires.

Findings from the most recent APA Stress in America Survey highlight other common ways that uncertainty stresses us out:

  • More than a third of Americans cite unexpected expenses as a source of stress related to money.
  • Nearly a third of Americans say economic uncertainty is a source of stress when thinking about the economy.
  • When it comes to health-related issues, around two-thirds of Americans cite uncertainty about the future as a source of stress. A similar proportion is stressed about possible changes to healthcare policy.

Research shows that people react differently to uncertainty, and that those with a higher intolerance for uncertainty may be less resilient and more prone to low mood, negative or down feelings and anxiety.

No one can avoid the unexpected. But these simple steps can help you better face life’s uncertainties.

  • Be kind to yourself. Some people are better at dealing with uncertainties than others, so don’t beat yourself up if your tolerance for unpredictability is lower than a friend’s. Remind yourself that it might take time for the stressful situation to resolve, and be patient with yourself in the meantime.
  • Reflect on past successes. Chances are you’ve overcome stressful events in the past – and you survived! Give yourself credit. Reflect on what you did during that event that was helpful, and what you might like to do differently this time.
  • Develop new skills. When life is relatively calm, make a point to try things outside your comfort zone. From standing up to a difficult boss to trying a new sport, taking risks helps you develop confidence and skills that come in handy when life veers off course.
  • Limit exposure to news. When we’re stressed about something, it can be hard to look away. But compulsively checking the news only keeps you wound up. Try to limit your check-ins and avoid the news during vulnerable times of day, such as right before bedtime.
  • Avoid dwelling on things you can’t control. When uncertainty strikes, many people immediately imagine worst-case scenarios. Get out of the habit of ruminating on negative events.
  • Take your own advice. Ask yourself: If a friend came to me with this worry, what would I tell her? Imagining your situation from the outside can often provide perspective and fresh ideas.
  • Engage in self-care. Don’t let stress derail your healthy routines. Make efforts to eat well, exercise and get enough sleep. Many people find stress release in practices such as yoga and meditation.
  • Seek support from those you trust. Many people isolate themselves when they’re stressed or worried. But social support is important, so reach out to family and friends.
  • Control what you can. Focus on the things that are within your control, even if it’s as simple as weekly meal planning or laying out your clothes the night before a stressful day. Establish routines to give your days and weeks some comforting structure.
  • Ask for help. If you’re having trouble managing stress and coping with uncertainty on your own, ask for help. Psychologists are experts in helping people develop healthy ways to cope with stress. Find a psychologist in your area by using APA’s Psychologist Locator Service.

 

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6 Leadership Theories for Career Growth

By: Indeed Editorial Team

Understanding theories and styles of leadership can help you be more effective in your role, particularly if your position requires frequent collaboration with or management of others. Also, during the job search process, interviewers may assess your leadership potential, so it can be helpful to understand your preferred leadership practice.

Leadership theory studies the qualities of good leaders. Psychologists analyze and develop leadership theory, and researchers try to discover the common qualities or behavioral patterns of excellent leaders. Some of the leadership aspects they consider include:

  • Personality traits
  • Actions
  • Environment
  • Situation
  • Decision-making process
  • How input is received
  • How relationships are maintained

Leadership style is the way a leader approaches managing team members. Leadership styles were formally developed as a result of studies on leadership theory, and each style includes distinct qualities. Common leadership styles include:

  • Coach: Recognizes strengths and weaknesses, helps people set goals and provides a lot of feedback.
  • Visionary: Manages through inspiration and confidence.
  • Servant: Focuses on helping team members feel fulfilled.
  • Autocratic or authoritarian: Makes decisions with little or no input from others.
  • Laissez-faire or hands-off: Delegates tasks and provides little supervision.
  • Democratic: Considers the opinions of others before making a decision.
  • Pacesetter: Sets high standards and focuses on performance.
  • Bureaucratic: Follows a strict hierarchy and expects team members to follow procedure.

Six main leadership theories

The great man theory

The great man theory of leadership states that excellent leaders are born, not developed. A popular concept in the 19th century, this theory states that leadership is an inherent quality. This type of leader often possesses the natural attributes of intelligence, courage, confidence, intuition and charm, among others.

The trait theory

The trait theory of leadership states that certain natural qualities tend to create good leaders. Having certain qualities does not necessarily mean someone has strong leadership skills, however. Some leaders may be excellent listeners or communicators, but not every listener or communicator makes an excellent leader.

The behavioral theory

The behavioral theory of leadership focuses on how a person’s environment, not natural abilities, forms him or her into a leader. One of the key concepts of behavioral theory is conditioning. Conditioning states that a person will be more likely to act or lead in a certain style as a result of environmental responses to behavior.

The transactional theory or management theory

The transactional theory of leadership, also called “the management theory,” studies leadership as a system of rewards and penalties. It views effective leadership as results-focused and hierarchical. Transactional leaders prioritize order and structure over creativity.

The transformational theory or relationship theory

The transformational theory of leadership, also called “the relationship theory,” studies effective leadership as the result of a positive relationship between leaders and team members. Transformational leaders motivate and inspire through their enthusiasm and passion. They are a model for their teams, and they hold themselves to the same standard they expect of others.

The situational theory

The situational theory of leadership does not relate to a certain type of leader or claim that any one style is best. Instead, situational theory argues that the best kind of leader is one who is able to adapt her style based on the situation. They may respond to a situation by commanding, coaching, persuading, participating, delegating or however they think is necessary. Situational leaders are defined by their flexibility.

Why you should identify your leadership theory and style

Considering your thoughts about and practices of leadership can help you identify your areas of strength and weakness and take action to become a better leader. Try to think about what qualities you possess and what qualities you could develop. Ask yourself what leadership theory you agree with or would like to follow. By evaluating your own skills, you can understand how to better lead your group.

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By: Indeed Editorial Team

Leaders need to be conscious of how their behaviors impact those they lead. Self-awareness in leadership is an important trait for a leader to cultivate. To become a more effective leader, you need the tools to reflect on how your unique characteristics affect the goals of your organization and those you lead.

What is self-awareness in leadership?

Self-awareness in leadership is an understanding of how your personality traits, habits and abilities affect your interactions with the people around you, particularly in the workplace. Leaders who are self-aware actively reflect on how their words and actions are perceived by others and work to change any of their own shortcomings so they can lead their peers more effectively. Self-awareness leads to personal control and growth that helps leaders use their strengths to guide teams to the best possible outcomes.

Why is self-awareness in leadership important?

Self-awareness is said to be the most important quality for a good leader. Self-awareness is important in leadership for the following reasons:

  • Self-awareness helps leaders make better choices. Effective leaders use self-awareness to manage their own behavior and relationships. Leaders need to develop self-knowledge to better compensate for their natural tendencies and abilities as they make decisions in the workplace.
  • Self-awareness can impact a company’s finances. Better-performing companies tend to have more self-aware leaders. These leaders make better decisions and are mindful of how their leadership impacts future outcomes for the company.
  • Self-awareness helps leaders understand what they bring to their role. Understanding their strengths in both industry skills and knowledge as well as personal characteristics allows a leader to better perform their responsibilities within an organization.
  • Self-awareness allows leaders to be realistic in their expectations. Part of leadership is inspiring a team to work toward growth and to meet goals. Self-aware leaders know how to balance what they want their team to accomplish with the creative vision they bring to the group.

Characteristics of self-awareness in leadership

Self-aware leaders are:

  • Reflective: A large part of self-awareness comes from reflecting on your own thoughts, words and actions as you communicate with others.
  • Observant: Self-aware leaders pay attention to what’s happening around them by following cues from their environment.
  • Empathetic: Understanding the needs of others helps self-aware leaders relate to those they lead.
  • Perceptive: Anticipating the outcome of a situation is another important trait of self-aware leadership.
  • Responsive: Leaders who are self-aware are active listeners. They can adapt based on the reaction of others.
  • Humble: Self-aware leaders are aware of their own strengths and weaknesses and work to correct any shortcomings that can get in the way of their leadership.
  • Self-controlled: Leaders who are self-aware have the ability to manage their own words and actions.
  • Discerning: Self-awareness comes from making wise choices about how you will handle a situation.
  • Adaptable: Self-aware leaders assess a situation and respond by changing their behaviors.
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Great Leadership Starts With Self-Awareness

By: Chinwe Esimai

Self-awareness has been cited as the most important capability for leaders to develop, according to the authors of “How To Become a Better Leader,” which was published in the MIT Sloan Management Review. Successful leaders know where their natural inclinations lie and use this knowledge to boost those inclinations or compensate for them.

Yet self-awareness seems to be in short supply among leaders. While women in executive-level management positions tend to exhibit more self-awareness than men in the same positions, the overall percentages suggest there is much opportunity for growth in this area. In a study of 17,000 individuals worldwide, the Hay Group Research found that 19 percent of women executives interviewed exhibited self-awareness as compared to 4 percent of their male counterparts. Here are some tips on how to be more self-aware

Knowing You

The one constant factor in all your endeavors is you; understanding yourself is therefore paramount.

Dr. Travis Bradberry, author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0describes self-awareness as one of the core components of emotional intelligence. He defines emotional intelligence as your ability to recognize and understand emotions in yourself and others, and your ability to use this awareness to manage your behavior and relationships.

Self-awareness is empowering because it arms you with knowledge and enables you to make better choices — to change or grow. Here are four strategies to increase your self-awareness:

Identify External Factors

Identify what factors, triggers, or indicators – both negative and positive – prompt others’ behaviors toward you. Why do you do the things you do, and how do others respond? How do you respond in turn, and why do you react the way you do? What is the impact of culture on your perspective and others’ perceptions?

Gather Trusted Feedback

Feedback leads to empathy and helps you understand the impact of your actions on others. One of the key indicators of low self-awareness is being unaware of personal blind spots—traits or aspects that may limit the way you act, react, behave, or believe, and in turn, limit your effectiveness.

Consider the Circumstances

Think about when to utilize a personality trait to your advantage and when it’s best to leave it on the sidelines. According to the MIT study, most self-aware CEOs learned to identify their “outlier tendencies” and adjusted their behavior in order to change the way they were perceived. They didn’t undergo an entire personality overhaul; rather, they learned how to be themselves but “with more skill.” The executives considered which business or social situations required their personality traits (for example, extraversion or openness) and which did not.

Assess Behaviors in Light of Your Values and Priorities

Do you observe patterns in your behaviors? Assess those patterns in light of what is important to you, what drives you, and who you want to be. Be honest in assessing competing priorities. Are there tendencies that you’d like to change? Are there factors you’d like to add to the equation? The best outcome of self-awareness is to figure out what makes you great and be more of it. Continually add to that list, refine it, and build on it. Conversely, seek to be less of what negatively impacts you, those around you, and your desired outcomes.

Stay Curious

Our inclinations, fueled by our culture, backgrounds, and experiences, influence who we are, but we are responsible for who we continually become. New circumstances can also create new triggers or lead to different reactions. Stay curious, and don’t stop seeking to understand yourself.

 

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By: Indeed Editorial Team

Leadership adjectives can be valuable tools for writing engaging and concrete resume content. Hiring managers in most industries appreciate a resume that offers a clear representation of your background and work style. Learning about leadership adjectives can help you frame your work experience accurately in your resume.

What are leadership adjectives?

Leadership adjectives are key terms that you can use in a resume to describe your managerial qualities, guidance skills and experience with taking responsibility. To help hiring managers understand that you can succeed in a position, it’s important to show them that you have leadership qualities by using leadership adjectives. These words can also show hiring managers how you approach leadership opportunities in a work environment.

Why is it important to include leadership adjectives on your resume?

Leadership is a quality many hiring managers value when searching for a suitable job candidate. Including leadership adjectives on your resume can help you show hiring managers the ways you’ve learned new skills and applied them to your tasks at work. These words can also demonstrate that you can advocate for yourself and others, create effective work initiatives and maintain optimal standards.

Some companies use software that tracks leadership adjectives and other keywords in resumes they collect. Then they review your resume for those keywords to determine if your profile matches the qualities they’re seeking. If you emphasize your skills with leadership adjectives, more hiring managers may view your resume, giving you more opportunities to find a position that fits your preferences and goals.

5 leadership adjectives to include on your resume

Accountable

Accountable leaders accept the outcome of the decisions they make and address any concerns others have about them. Using “accountable” on your resume may help hiring managers recognize your decision-making skills, notice how you reflect on your actions and acknowledge the quality of your job performance.

Innovative

Innovative leaders can devise new ideas using the assets and background knowledge they already have. Hiring managers often hire employees who can develop strategies for new procedures that improve the company’s productivity and enhance the overall quality of its products. Using “innovative” on your resume can also help you illustrate the specific ways you improved a process at a previous organization.

Decisive

Decisive leaders know how to make high-quality decisions within a specific timeline using information from different reliable sources. Hiring managers may want examples of how your decisions enacted positive change at your previous organization or helped your colleagues accomplish their tasks alongside your own.

Supportive

Supportive leaders often give people the encouragement and resources they need to seek new opportunities and develop their skills. Leaders who show this quality can assist their colleagues when they seek additional input and create a working environment that promotes success. Hiring managers may look for information on your resume about how you operate in a team environment and strategies you’ve used to support team efforts.

Dedicated

Dedicated individuals commit to the tasks they’ve agreed to do and persevere to achieve their goals. They often understand how to approach obstacles with positivity and resilience and may inspire their colleagues to accomplish their goals. To help hiring managers recognize that you’re driven to succeed in your field, consider using “dedicated” in your resume.

Consider using these tips for using leadership adjectives on your resume:

  • Identify adjectives in the job description. You can examine the job description for relevant keywords, then incorporate them into your resume.
  • Study company mission statements. Studying mission statements can help you decide which leadership adjectives emphasize the qualities that hiring managers are seeking in a candidate. Then you can highlight those qualities on your resume.
  • Use varied adjectives. Finding a few different adjectives to describe your leadership qualities can help you write compelling resume content. Try to use each leadership adjective only once throughout your resume.
  • Proofread the spelling before you submit. Proofreading is another effective way to show hiring managers that you have the competencies you need to succeed.
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What Is the Negativity Bias?

By: Kendra Cherry

Have you ever found yourself dwelling on an insult or fixating on your mistakes? Criticisms often have a greater impact than compliments, and bad news frequently draws more attention than good.

The reason for this is that negative events have a greater impact on our brains than positive ones. Psychologists refer to this as the negative bias (also called the negativity bias), and it can have a powerful effect on your behavior, your decisions, and even your relationships.

What Is the Negativity Bias?

The negative bias is our tendency not only to register negative stimuli more readily but also to dwell on these events. Also known as positive-negative asymmetry, this negativity bias means that we feel the sting of a rebuke more powerfully than we feel the joy of praise.

This psychological phenomenon explains why bad first impressions can be so difficult to overcome and why past traumas can have such long lingering effects. In almost any interaction, we are more likely to notice negative things and later remember them more vividly.

As humans, we tend to:

  • Remember traumatic experiences better than positive ones.
  • Recall insults better than praise.
  • React more strongly to negative stimuli.
  • Think about negative things more frequently than positive ones.
  • Respond more strongly to negative events than to equally positive ones.

For example, you might be having a great day at work when a coworker makes an offhand comment that you find irritating. You then find yourself stewing over his words for the rest of the workday.

When you get home from work and someone asks you how your day was, you reply that it was terrible—even though it was overall quite good despite that one negative incident.

This bias toward the negative leads you to pay much more attention to the bad things that happen, making them seem much more important than they really are.

What the Research Says

Research has shown that across a wide array of psychological events, people tend to focus more on the negative as they try to make sense of the world.

We tend to…

  • Pay more attention to negative events than positive ones.
  • Learn more from negative outcomes and experiences.
  • Make decisions based on negative information more than positive data.

It is the “bad things” that grab our attention, stick to our memories, and, in many cases, influence the decisions that we make.

Motivation

Psychological research suggests that the negative bias influences motivation to complete a task. People have less motivation when an incentive is framed as a means to gain something than when the same incentive will help them avoid the loss of something.

This can play a role in your motivation to pursue a goal. Rather than focusing on what you will gain if you keep working toward something, you’re more likely to dwell on what you might have to give up in order to achieve that goal.

Bad News

Additionally, studies have shown that negative news is more likely to be perceived as truthful. Since negative information draws greater attention, it also may be seen as having greater validity. This might be why bad news seems to garner more attention.

Politics

Differences in negativity bias have also been linked to political ideology. Some research suggests that conservatives may have stronger psychological responses to negative information than liberals. Some evidence, for example, has found that people who consider themselves politically conservative are more likely to rate ambiguous stimuli as threatening.

Such differences in the negativity bias might explain why some people are more likely to value things such as tradition and security while others are more open to embracing ambiguity and change.

Examples of Negative Bias

The negative bias can have a variety of real-world effects on how people think and act. Do any of these situations and events seem familiar?

  • You received a performance review at work that was quite positive overall and noted your strong performance and achievements. A few constructive comments pointed out areas where you could improve, and you find yourself fixating on those remarks. Rather than feeling good about the positive aspects of your review, you feel upset and angry about the few critical comments.
  • You had an argument with your significant other, and afterward, you find yourself focusing on all of your partner’s flaws. Instead of acknowledging their good points, you ruminate over all of their imperfections. Even the most trivial of faults are amplified, while positive characteristics are overlooked.
  • You humiliated yourself in front of your friends years ago and can still vividly recall the event. You find yourself cringing with embarrassment over it, even though your friends have probably forgotten about it entirely.

Where Negative Bias Comes From

Our tendency to pay more attention to bad things and overlook good things is likely a result of evolution. Earlier in human history, paying attention to bad, dangerous, and negative threats in the world was literally a matter of life and death. Those who were more attuned to danger and who paid more attention to the bad things around them were more likely to survive.

This meant they were also more likely to hand down the genes that made them more attentive to danger.

The evolutionary perspective suggests that this tendency to dwell on the negative more than the positive is simply one way the brain tries to keep us safe.

Development

Research suggests that this negativity bias starts to emerge in infancy. Very young infants tend to pay greater attention to positive facial expression and tone of voice, but this begins to shift as they near one year of age.

Brain studies indicate that around this time, babies begin to experience greater brain responses to negative stimuli. This suggests that the brain’s negative bias emerges during the latter half of a child’s first year of life. There is some evidence that the bias may actually start even earlier in development.

One study found that infants as young as three months old show signs of the negativity bias when making social evaluations of others.

The Brain’s Response

Neuroscientific evidence has shown that there is greater neural processing in the brain in response to negative stimuli. Studies that involve measuring event-related brain potentials (ERPs), which show the brain’s response to specific sensory, cognitive, or motor stimuli, have shown that negative stimuli elicit a larger brain response than positive ones.

In studies conducted by psychologist John Cacioppo, participants were shown pictures of either positive, negative, or neutral images. The researchers then observed electrical activity in the brain. Negative images produced a much stronger response in the cerebral cortex than did positive or neutral images.

Effects

While we may no longer need to be on constant high alert as our early ancestors needed to be in order to survive, the negativity bias still has a starring role in how our brains operate. Research has shown that negative bias can have a wide variety of effects on how people think, respond, and feel.

Some of the everyday areas where you might feel the results of this bias include in your relationships, decision-making, and the way you perceive people.

Relationships

The negativity bias can have a profound effect on your relationships. The bias might lead people to expect the worst in others, particularly in close relationships in which people have known each other for a long time.

For example, you might negatively anticipate how your partner will react to something and go into the interaction with your defenses already on high alert. Arguments and resentment are often the results.

When it comes to relationships, it is valuable to remember that negative comments usually carry much more weight than positive ones. Being aware of our own tendency to fixate on the negative is also important. By understanding this natural human tendency, you can focus on finding ways to cut other people a break and to stop expecting the worst.

Decision-Making

The negative bias can have an influence on the decision-making process. In their famous work, Nobel Prize-winning researchers Kahneman and Tversky found that when making decisions, people consistently place greater weight on negative aspects of an event than they do on positive ones.

People Perception

When forming impressions of others, people also tend to focus more on negative information. For example, studies have shown that when given both “good” and “bad” adjectives to describe another person’s character, participants give greater weight to the bad descriptors when forming a first impression.

How to Overcome Negative Bias

Stop Negative Self-Talk

Start paying attention to the type of thoughts that run through your mind. After an event takes place, you might find yourself thinking things like “I shouldn’t have done that.” This negative self-talk shapes how you think about yourself and others.

Reframe the Situation

How you talk to yourself about events, experiences, and people plays a large role in shaping how you interpret events. When you find yourself interpreting something in a negative way, or only focusing on the bad aspect of the situation, look for ways to reframe the events in a more positive light.

Establish New Patterns

When you find yourself ruminating on things, look for an uplifting activity to pull yourself out of this negative mindset. For example, if you find yourself mentally reviewing some unpleasant event or outcome, consciously try to redirect your attention elsewhere and engage in an activity that brings you joy.

Savor Positive Moments

Because it takes more for positive experiences to be remembered, it is important to give extra attention to good things that happen. Where negative things might be quickly transferred and stored in your long-term memory, you need to make more of an effort to get the same effect from happy moments.

So when something great happens, take a moment to really focus on it. Replay the moment several times in your memory and focus on the wonderful feelings the memory evokes.

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By: Barbara Field

Creativity helps us perceive the world in new and different ways. It helps us create works of beauty, problem solve, and refresh our bodies and our minds.

When you are having fun, you are positively impacting your health.

Creativity Improves Your Mental Health

During a pandemic, you especially need to take a mental break from current events and the endless news cycle. Expressing yourself through artistic and creative activities is like a prescription for your mental health.

Surveys conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and elsewhere have shown unequivocally that stress and anxiety have skyrocketed since the advent of COVID-19. Turning to creativity has been proven in extensive research to relieve both stress and anxiety.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, creativity also helps lessen the shame, anger and depression felt by those who have experienced trauma.
The Walter Reed National Military Medical Center has an art therapy program for soldiers with PTSD. Veterans often find it difficult to express their trauma verbally. But art therapy manager Tammy Shella, PhD, ATR-BC says that, “Through art therapy, patients can convey how they really feel on the inside and reveal things that they weren’t comfortable sharing with the world.”

Creativity Puts You in a Flow State

Have you ever been so immersed in writing in your journal, creating postcards out of your recent photographs or dancing to your favorite band that you lost all sense of time?

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