I couldn’t tell you the number of moments I have been completely overwhelmed. The times I’ve said, “ I am so tired and so stressed I haven’t slept at all” , or “ There is no possible way to get all of this done because I have no idea what I’m even doing” . Our thoughts, behaviors, and emotions can often get the best of us. It’s almost as if they turn us into a different person completely. When tension, stress, uncertainty, and worry begin to fill our minds - our behaviors and emotions will almost always follow negatively - if we allow our thoughts to dictate who we are.
As a mental health professional, we study this all of the time - it’s one of the most research based practices. When a client of mine is dealing with a difficult circumstance in his/her life, we start to dissect their thoughts, behavior patterns, and emotions. This is called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). If it’s something you are interested in, I would highly recommend you doing a little bit of your own research in this area!
The whole point of this practice is to focus on solutions and help individuals challenge destructive thoughts and behaviors. Because when we learn how to get our mind in check and into a positive way of living, our emotions and feelings will follow. To make something like this a practice in your life it will take discipline and practice, just like everything else. But, the payoff of being empowered to find emotional balance is ultimately so worth it. Try these three rituals to improve your lifestyle through how you view life, circumstances, and yourself each day.
There is power in putting pen to paper. From scrolls, to playwrights, to teachings, journaling has been a source of release, inspiration, and revival for ages. University of Texas at Austin psychologist and researcher, James Pennebaker, learned that when one journals regularly, it strengthens your T-lymphocytes (immune cells). Pennebaker also believes that when you journal about circumstances that bring tension and stress, it helps one come to terms with the situation and reduce physical stress. It helps bring your mind back to the present.
2. Challenge Your Negative Beliefs
We all have them, but we know they are often not true. Negative beliefs like_“I’m_ not good enough. I’m a failure. I can’t be a mother. I don’t measure up to her.” are our inner critics coming to the surface. Start to take notice of what your inner critic says. Write these thoughts down for the next two weeks, and try these steps to challenge them as they come up:
- Write down a positive core belief that counteracts the negative belief.
- Rate each belief, positive and negative, from 0%-100% on how much you actually believe it.
- Write down evidence each day that supports your new positive core belief.
- After two weeks, re-rate each belief, and hopefully the power they hold will change more than you think.
3. Try Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR)
This practice goes hand in hand with self-care and deep breathing. In PMR, you do a body scan and aim to release any tension. Usually, I have my clients do this at night when they are going to sleep. When you begin a body scan, start at your feet. Tense every single muscle in your feet for 10 seconds… then let go. Move to your calves, to your thighs, your bum, your hands, and all the way up to your head. After you have gone through each muscle group, tense your entire body for 10 seconds… and release. This type of ritual will not only relax you physically from a long day, but mentally.
These techniques are simple, but truly can bring you better mental and emotional health. Not only do they help release the day-to-day stressors, but you will begin to know yourself better, empower yourself with healthy thoughts, and feel more confident moving forward in your goals .
Photos by: Eun Creative