Have you ever been having a good day (or at least an okay day) and someone decides to complain to you about all their problems? They tell you about the horrible morning they are having, how their relationship is falling apart, or why they are too tired to be at work, and suddenly your day isn’t so great anymore.

That’s because negativity is contagious. When working in a team you have to be extremely careful to stay focused on the team’s needs and objectives. Bringing in unrelated information, gossip, or emotional baggage can be detrimental to the productivity of a group.

The point? If you can avoid negativity in your life and refrain from passing it on to others, you will enjoy a much more productive way of life with those around you.

So the big question is, how can you avoid negativity in your life? It is not entirely plausible that you could eliminate every bad thing in your life, but here are some scenarios and solutions that can help you deal with everyday sorts of problems.

1. As a college student I often find myself in dire need of sleep. When you are overtired, everything in front of you can seem daunting if not downright horrible. Consistent lack of sleep leads to downtrodden attitudes and lack of energy, not to mention (according to recent research) increased susceptibility to weight gain.

My solution: RELAX! Skip a night of going out. If all your friends are dying to go to a movie or go drinking on a Saturday night, skip it. Watch a movie by yourself in bed and go right to sleep. Allow yourself an extra hour to sleep in the next morning (this is best done on weekends). The relaxing before bed and the extra hour in the morning should help catch up on some of your much needed rest.  Starting the week refreshed makes the entire workweek more bearable.

2. Often-times negative attitudes arise from feelings of being unproductive.

Now here’s a vicious cycle—because negative attitudes also reduce the drive to produce! The solution to this one is simple: lists and goals.  Make sure you write them down so you can cross them off as you go. Crossing things off gives you a visual—and physical—reward for what you have actually accomplished. Once you start running errands and mailing the Christmas cards, your stress level can decrease and you can enjoy more time out of your week to relax and refresh. (Note that this can automatically reduce fatigue.)

3. Another cause of negativity is the dreaded realm of ‘body issues’ (…and yes,  you men can have them too).  People who are constantly working or are on the go often regret their choice of unhealthy food, or have some other “problem area” (whatever it may be) leaves them wishing they had time to tone up. Many people are convinced that they don’t have time to exercise.

If you look online for gyms in your area, you might notice that many of them are open till 10 or 11 at night. This is for YOUR convenience. The world knows that you work 9-5 and then need to get home to your family. But once dinner has been cleaned up and you’ve had some time to digest, go to the gym. I recently joined one and even though I’m always tired, and I get bored exercising, I go anyway.  I’ve come to realize that even though I HATE going, I LOVE how I feel when leaving. The endorphins kick in right away and give me an energy boost for the rest of the evening. (It also makes me feel less guilty about the two deserts I usually eat on a daily basis).

If you honestly don’t have time to go to a gym, do something simpler. Wear ankle weights when walking around the house, or cleaning, or going to the store. Instead of watching a half hour of TV, put on some music and have a private dance party for 20 minutes. When you lay down in bed, do ten crunches before letting your head hit the pillow. Little changes can eventually lead to big payoffs.

As for the unhealthy food choices while on the go, take a look at the menus you are ordering from. Even McDonalds’ has healthier choices these days. Again little changes, such as getting apple slices instead of french fries, can do you a lot of good.

(At the beginning of this summer I got off the metro and got a croissant at Au Bon Pain every morning, I was hungry an hour later. Then I switched to buying their little packets of cheese crackers and grapes. Same price, much healthier. I no longer get hungry before lunch, and it helps me stay focused and energized instead of hungry and grumpy. )

I am not naïve enough to say there will never be things in life that can bring you down. However, for the things you cannot control, decide if they are truly worth your time and thought. If they aren’t, let them go. This is much simpler than people make it seem.  The more you maintain your focus on positive things, the happier and more productive you, and those around you, will be.

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