Today, I’m diving into my positive affirmations, as negative and distorted thoughts have crept in. This is completely normal and something everyone goes through. I like to write my positive affirmations, which include quotes and Bible verses, on index cards. Today, I wrote one about being a business owner. The affirmations are kept on a shelf next to my work desk. As I read through my cards, I reflected on them, noticing that I’m feeling pretty good about them and have not needed to use certain affirmations for a few months! I take them to heart, I know that they are true.
When I’m going through my day and notice physical symptoms of worry and anxiety, I know that a helpful strategy is to visit my cards. Having three to four mental coping strategies on hand, that aren’t going on a run, is key. Addressing anxiety by going on a run is my top way to manage symptoms, but I can’t always go out when I want, so I take deep breaths and incorporate mindfulness to create a different reaction. I read my affirmations as many times as I feel appropriate. There are tougher days where I keep them on my desk and will intentionally be more aware of my breathing throughout the day, as I know that an unhelpful habit is to hold my breath.
When was the last time that you read or recited positive affirmations to yourself? If it has been a while, don’t forget that this is a simple way to redirect your thoughts. Know your distorted thoughts and unhelpful habits. Know when you need to use your positive affirmations and other coping strategies, and pay attention to the benefits.
The ACCEPTS acronym has skills that helps keep you busy and distracted when you would typically be preoccupied by a crisis. It is easy to dwell on what is going wrong, by focusing on the ACCEPTS behaviors, you can get yourself through hard times.
Activities keep you busy and your mind off of problems and behaviors. The behaviors that you are focused on are healthy and helpful.
To start practicing this skill, write a list of activities you enjoy when life feels better. If you’re unsure or need ideas, go online and search for activity lists.
Add the pleasant activities into your schedule and mindfully do them.
Choose an activity and enjoy it now!
Contribute to others. It is a way to take your mind off of your own problems, to feel connected and useful, and to create positive feelings.
Do a favor; acts of kindness; write a thank you note; bake brownies to share; volunteer locally.
Create a list of ways to contribute to others and begin right away.
Afterwards, journal about the experience, reflecting on your thoughts and feelings.
Draw healthy comparisons between yourself and others. There are people living without necessities, who have gone through tragedies, or who have tremendous obstacles to overcome. Remembering that other people are also suffering, often in worse ways, allows for you to gain perspective of what you’re going through. This perspective also increases your feelings of gratefulness.
Emotions arise from the things we do. You can change your emotion by changing your behavior.
When you’re depressed, do behaviors that lift your spirits. When you’re anxious, do ones that are relaxing. When angry, do ones that are calming.
Check-in with your emotions in the moment, and if you find that you want change, then choose to participate in a healthy behavior to change your emotion.
Pushing away means that you decide to revisit the problem at another time. Imagine putting the problem in a box, locking the box, and placing it on a shelf for later.
You cannot think about two things at once, so choose to direct your attention to the most helpful thought.
Some ideas to try, crossword puzzles, read an interesting book, have an intriguing conversation, watch an action movie.
Do something to occupy your thoughts away from depressive thoughts, worries, and problems.
Practice in the moment.
Direct yourself with healthy sensations.
Things to try, dance to loud music, eat a sour lemon slice, take a hot or cold bath, smell a strong scent, like peppermint.
These things wake up your senses in an invigorating way. Notice any changes in your experience.
Another idea, create a sensations toolkit, using your favorite ways to wake up your sensations. Use your tools.
This is a popular grounding technique, and it is for everyone.
This technique engages all 5 senses, which reminds you of the present moment, and builds awareness. This is a calming technique that can help you get through tough or stressful situations. Taking a deep belly breath at the beginning and end of this activity can feel calming and will help prepare you for the next thing that occurs. As you do this activity, saying the things that you sense out loud will reinforce your present state of being and awareness because you are hearing in your own voice what your brain is telling you and what your body is actually experiencing.
Take a deep belly breath to begin.
5 – LOOK: Look around for 5 things that you can see and say them out loud.
Example: “I see a dog, a chair, a lamp, a window, and a cup.”
4 – FEEL: Pay attention to your body and think of 4 things that you can feel. Say them out loud.
Example: “I feel the dog, the cushion that I’m sitting on, the sun coming in through the window on my skin, and the carpet beneath my feet.”
3 – LISTEN: Listen for 3 sounds and say them out loud.
Example: “I hear the dog snoring, the air conditioner running, and the birds outside singing.”
2 – SMELL: Say 2 things that you can smell. If you can’t smell anything from where you are, you may move to go smell something or say your favorite scent.
Example: “I smell the candle burning and the fabric softener on the chair throw.”
1 – TASTE: Say 1 thing that you can taste. If you can’t taste anything, then you can say your favorite thing to taste.
Example: “I taste the toothpaste mint from when I brushed my teeth.”
Take another deep belly breath to end and notice how you feel.
Download this technique below to store on your device or to print it out and share!
Mindfulness is choosing to be aware of the present moment, on purpose, and in a non-judgmental way. When being mindful, our attention and focus is on whatever we choose to observe or do.In this moment, choose to focus your mind wherever you’d like it to be.
Maybe you focus on your emotions, thoughts and physical sensations as you experience the environment around you.
Hold your attention there, focusing on being in the moment.
States of mind
We have three states of mind:
• Emotion Mind • Reason Mind • Wise Mind
Wise Mind is the balance between emotion and reason. We acknowledge and validate our feelings and use reason to problem-solve, think about consequences, and choose effective behaviors.
In Wise Mind, we act in ways that reflect our goals, values, and who we want to be.
Ask yourself, in any moment, “What is my Wise Mind telling me?” Then act.
Getting into Wise Mind, Step One
• Observe and describe what and how you behave, think, feel, and your surroundings in a non-judgmental way. Stay focused one-mindfully.
To observe means just noticing how things are, without adding or taking away.
To describe means to put words to your observations.
• What you do is participate and how you do that is effectively.
• Take what you observed (step one) and choose what you want to participate in. Participate in it fully, immerse yourself in the experience.
• How to choose what to participate in: base it off of what will work or be effective.
Once you are participating effectively, you’re in Wise Mind. Notice what this feels like.
Let Go of Judgments
We all have judgments. Whenever you notice yourself judging, let the judgment pass through and drift off, don’t allow it to stick around. Judgments should come and go like clouds and ocean waves.
Practicing Mindfulness in the Moment
Be present in the “small moments.”
Take 10 minutes and clean part of your home, fully immersing yourself in the process.
When you find yourself distracted, this could be a judgmental thought, refocus on what you’re doing. Full focus and attention, non-judgmentally.
A thought on meditation. Meditation can be considered anything if you are present, being non-judgmental, and have an open heart.
Meditate on your life experiences, starting with the moment you are currently in. Stay present for some time, connecting to the moment, then, when you’re ready, shift your focus to another moment.
Let potentially stressful situations, criticisms, or anything else that might “stick” to you, causing needless suffering, roll off your mind. Allow these experiences to slide through your awareness.
Distractions, distractions, distractions
Distractions don’t go away, they are a part of this world. Do not get frustrated with distractions, they are reminders to go back to what you’re working on. They’re natural.
When you become distracted, bring yourself back to the present moment. Do this over, and over, and over again, if you need to.
Taking hold of your mind
Direct your mind where you want it. There are many thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations to direct your attention towards. Choose one of those, opening up your mind to it and closing your attention off from the other options.
If your mind drifts towards a closed off option, gently re-close it and return to the option of choice.
Instead of thinking this way, we should think in terms of seeing the shades of gray, between black-and-white thinking. Practice being flexible and find middle-ground options in your behavior. Trying to see the opposing side.
▪︎ When in conflict, find something to agree about in the other person’s perspective. ▪︎ Instead of procrastinating on a task, break the ice with one or two small steps. ▪︎ Make a list of at least five positive qualities you (or someone else you are down on) have.
If you’re stuck in the above thought patterns, try the opposite.
Look at the other side of things. We often default to the negative side of situations or ourselves. We can be critical and harsh. Look at the opposite side of the dialect.
▪︎ Is there a silver lining or hidden opportunity in the problem that you are facing? ▪︎ What strengths, skills, resiliencies, and resources do you have? Play to your strengths.
A favorite quote of mine by Arthur Ashe, which is relatable, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”
▪︎ What skills can you improve to better manage a crisis? Aim to be more skillful, trying a new skill can be helpful, too!
See other perspectives
There is no position in existence that accounts for every perspective. Think about other people’s perspectives and ideas that are the opposite of yours. Look for the pebble of truth in those perspectives and ideas. Where is the middle ground between the opposite perspectives?
Make gradual changes
Changes are often more gradual than dramatic, life changes slowly overtime. Reflect on a problem. If the problem were less severe or resolved, what are some behaviors that others would notice you doing?
To begin making gradual changes, practice those behaviors.
• If you’re feeling depressed, add daily exercise. • When struggling with social anxiety, initiate a conversation with someone. • When isolated, reach out to friends and family to talk.
This dialectical technique supports positive change. Think about your history and the times when helpful and healthy behaviors were prominent. Do more of those helpful and healthy behaviors now. Do more of what works!
• Keeping a planner or journal. • Make self-care a priority. • Engage more actively in your social support.
Embrace the things that are not problems
We’re easily preoccupied with our problems. You could write a “Gratefulness List,” or you could write a fun list including hilarious and dramatic problems that you don’t have.
“Not a problem” list examples
• I am not kidnapped and being examined by aliens. • I don’t have smallpox. • I am not lost in the desert.
It’s easy to feel powerful emotions, such as anger and disgust towards people, especially if we don’t like them because of mean, rude, and unskillful behavior.
The next time you’re in this situation, it can help to practice compassion by imagining what circumstances lead that person to be unkind and unskillful.
What unhappiness exists for such people?
Try practicing compassion the next time you feel hurt, upset, and wronged by somebody.
Our thoughts and feelings are often too rigid, causing us misery. Learning to be flexible and to “go with the flow,” will bend and not break those thoughts and feelings.
Consider other perspectives and practice being more flexible in situations, flowing with reality rather than imposing your will against it.
Mindfulness and walking are highly beneficial to your mental health, especially when you do them routinely. Try combining them! Go on a walk. You can walk inside (yes, it still works) or outside, done alone, while walking the dog, or with another person. – just don’t have a conversation with the other person while doing this activity because it takes away the point. No headphones with music or audiobooks. Engage your mindfulness skills and enjoy!
A little about mindfulness
To put mindfulness into action
BE AWARE of what is going on around you physically. Increase your awareness of experience.
PAY ATTENTION by watching, listening and considering the environment. This is what is naturally occurring.
What you see, hear, smell; feeling the ground with your feet as you walk; noticing your breathing; listening to your dog pant; noticing the shadows on the ground; watching the clouds slowly reshape; noticing the texture of the floor; noticing shades of lighting; smell of a candle; ticking of a clock.
REMAIN IN THE PRESENT MOMENT. If you become distracted by thoughts or emotions, accept that you have them, don’t use judgment, and then release them to return to the present moment. You may try to visualize releasing thoughts and emotions. – like the wind blowing them away.
CONSIDER AND BE CURIOUS about the moment and environment in a non-judgmental manner.