Positive Self-Talk for Difficult Times
Whether you are feeling the stress (of quarantine) or the pressures of your daily routine, self-talk is a valuable form of communication. While it serves as a reminder for us to do simple daily tasks such as buying grocery items, it can also serve as an important skill for dealing with stress.
It is believed that most people are born with the ability to communicate internally, although some research suggests otherwise. For those whose inner voice is more soft-spoken, here are some tips on how you can develop positive self-talk to navigate difficult times.
By now, we have all been exposed to the concept of mindfulness, or the state of being conscious and aware of the present moment. This idea, however, may be easier said than done. With all that is going on, adapting to our “new” normal (homeschooling, working from home and keeping the house clean), focusing on one thing seems more challenging than ever.
Beginner Mindfulness Technique: Focus on Your Hands
Stroking your hands will help you practice staying present.
Begin by lowering or closing your eyes.
Then, take the index finger of your right hand and slowly move it up and down on the outside of your fingers.
Once you have mindfully stroked your left hand, swap and let your left hand stroke the fingers of your right hand.
Pro Tip: Don’t forget to breathe.
The act of meditating is simply quieting the mind. It helps with promoting focus, reducing anxiety and reducing stress, although quieting the mind takes practice.
Start by finding a quiet place with little to no distractions and get into a comfortable position.
Close your eyes and begin to inhale, deeply, focusing on your breath and the beat of your heart.
You may want to visualize a place that is calming and repeat a phrase or mantra to yourself.
For beginners who prefer guided meditation, apps like Headspace offer free trials to walk you through the process and help ease your anxiety.
Designate a window of time that you can devote to yourself and inform those around you that you will be unavailable during this time. This can be anywhere between 10 minutes to an hour. I like to use my morning commute as a time to focus before I get to my office. If you are no longer commuting to work, then use the time that you run errands as your quiet time.
We send ourselves thousands of messages about who we are and how we feel, but we sometimes have a tendency to send ourselves the wrong message. Affirmations are a form of self-talk that can shift negative thinking into positive thoughts. Practitioners believe these words and phrases work to send messages to your mind, subconsciously. While some people prefer listening to affirmations while meditating, studies suggest they are more effective when spoken out loud.
Try this Affirmation
You can start practicing affirmations by saying a simple positive phrase to yourself like “I choose to be at peace with the way things are.”
Write it Down
Keeping a journal can be helpful with processing your thoughts. When you feel overwhelmed, it is easy to lose sight of things that are working. Try keeping a journal or writing a gratitude list of things you are thankful for.
Have a Gratitude Moment
A simple way to start is by asking yourself a question: What am I grateful for today? This can foster a more positive outlook, even in times of distress.
Fun Tip: I like to keep a daily talley on my calendar of all the things that go right, no matter how small they are. You can do this anytime, anywhere by simply taking notice of the little things.
While we can’t control everything around us, we have the ability to control what is within us. By using positive self-talk, we can cultivate safer environments, even through uncertainty.
De'Jarnette Johnson is currently earning her master’s degree in communication at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.