The Benefits Of Positive Self-Talk

The Benefits Of Positive Self-Talk

What you say to yourself is very important, as you most likely have a running dialogue in your head throughout the day. The things you say to yourself impacts your beliefs, behavior, and self-concept. If your self-talk is mostly negative and the focus is on everything that’s wrong, feelings of anxiety and depression can increase. You might develop a pessimistic outlook and you could suffer from low self-esteem. However, when your self talk is positive, the opposite is true. When you practice positive self-talk, your general outlook becomes more optimistic. Engaging in positive self-talk can be very beneficial as it can improve your mental health, and enhance your performance and your relationships. 

What Is Self-Talk

Self-talk refers to the inner dialogue going on in your head. It is the things that you say to yourself on a daily basis. This can include instructions and tasks as well as reminders. Self-talk also includes the conscious and unconscious beliefs you hold about yourself. These beliefs influence what you say to yourself, which can impact your behavior. Self-talk can be either positive or negative and is something most of us engage in quite often. Your inner dialogue is very important as it has a major impact on your beliefs, behaviors, and emotional well-being.

Negative Self-Talk

Negative self-talk is a dialogue you have with yourself about the ways you don’t measure up and aren’t good enough. It is your inner bully that has no problem pointing out your flaws and shortcomings. When you engage in negative self-talk, you focus on bad experiences and the ways things went wrong. You may say things like, I can’t do anything right, or, I’m such a failure. While you may think that your negative self-talk is motivating, it is actually limiting. If someone is constantly telling you that you are not good enough and you will never amount to anything, eventually you start believing it. When this is your inner dialogue and what you expect from yourself, it can influence your behavior and become something you live up to.

Positive Self-Talk

Positive self-talk is the opposite of negative self-talk. It is not simply about expressing only the good or pretending that everything is okay. It is about assessing the situation in order to make improvements rather than believing you are the problem. Instead of focusing on the ways things went wrong and making it about your personal shortcomings, it is about focusing on what can be done differently. With positive self-talk, you can still own your mistakes without identifying yourself as a mistake. You might say things like, I can do better next time, or, I can learn from this. Engaging in positive self-talk requires you to give yourself grace, understanding, and compassion. It enables you to make productive changes and move forward. 

How To Change Negative Self-Talk Into Positive Self-Talk

If you notice that your self-talk is negative, there are some ways you can change it. Pay attention to your self-talk and write down the things you say. Find other ways you can say it that are accurate, but also kind. If you wouldn’t say it to your best friend or a young child, don’t say it to yourself. Notice what is going on around you when you are being unkind to yourself. Practice thought stopping techniques and reframe the negative self-talk into something more positive. When you reframe your self-talk, focus on the situation at hand and what happened, not your individual character and perceived flaws. Pay attention to what you learned from it and what you might want to do differently in the future. Practice self-forgiveness and self-compassion. When you start engaging in more positive self-talk, you will begin to see the benefits of this.

Improves Mental Health

Engaging in positive self-talk can improve your outlook and your emotional well-being. Stress levels decrease when you use coping skills during challenging times. When you practice positive self-talk, you begin to view ways to alter problems and overcome obstacles instead of letting them overtake you. Seeing yourself in a more positive light, and not as the problem, enables you to see other things positively. This way the focus is on improvements and what is possible, not on the problems. When you engage in positive self-talk, you begin to change some of the negative core beliefs that can increase symptoms of anxiety and depression. Switching to a more positive mindset keeps you from ruminating on past mistakes and your perceived shortcomings.

Improves Confidence And Performance

When your self-talk is mainly negative, you are more likely to doubt yourself and your abilities. Using positive self-talk can help your performance and improve your self-confidence. Your inner voice becomes your outer behavior. If you believe you can accomplish something well, you are more likely to achieve it. When you reinforce this belief with self-talk centered around reaching your goals, it is more likely to happen. With a pessimistic outlook, you may not even attempt to reach your goals as you don’t think you will succeed. If your self-talk is focused on what you do well and how you could improve, you can see the possibility of success.

Improves Relationships

Positive self-talk can benefit your relationships as well. When you focus on the positive with yourself, you are more likely to focus on the positives of others. Positive self-talk boosts self-confidence and enables you to have a more optimistic outlook. This can help you attract and keep others in your life. With negative self-talk, relationship problems can be emphasized and blown out of proportion. If there are problems in a relationship, you are likely to look for ways to improve this when your self-talk is more positive. When your self-talk is positive, you tend to feel better about yourself and your relationships.

Positive self-talk can be very beneficial. When you switch your focus to how you can improve, instead of the ways you are not good enough, your outlook becomes more hopeful. If you are having difficulty changing your negative self-talk, and it is impacting your well-being, therapy can help. When your self-talk becomes more positive, you can experience many positive benefits as well.

Coronavirus And Grief

Coronavirus And Grief

The coronavirus pandemic has caused a disruption in daily routines and current and future plans. Trips and special events have been cancelled or postponed. Other than immediate family, there is a lot less social interaction. Friends and family members may be fighting the virus alone, and some might have lost their battle in isolation. Due to all of the loss during the coronavirus, including the loss of normalcy, you may be experiencing grief.

Grief During The Coronavirus

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a lot of change. All of the uncertainty due to the coronavirus can have a negative impact on your emotional well-being. Daily routines, job security, and financial stability can be drastically different today. Many people are feeling a deep sense of loss. There are many types of grief you might be experiencing at this time. You could be grieving the loss of social interaction. There could be grief around feelings of safety and security. Maybe you lost your job or your income decreased. If you lost a loved one to the virus, your grief might be compounded. The typical rituals around death, and the comfort and support they often provide is drastically different at this time. There may even be guilt around not being able to be with your sick loved one. No matter why you may be grieving, remember that grief is a process.

Signs of Grief

Any loss can cause grief. Grief is a normal response to experiencing a loss. During the coronavirus pandemic, you might also experience anticipatory grief. Anticipatory grief refers to the belief that more loss is going to occur. Those experiencing anticipatory grief often experience sadness, anger, and loneliness. There may be a great deal of fear about what is going to happen next. During the coronavirus, as you struggle with what might happen and distant support, signs of grief may be different. You could experience shock, anger, and sadness. However, you may also have trouble concentrating, experience body aches, have sleep issues, or eat more or less than usual. You could also experience feelings related to past loss and may hyperfocus on everything related to the coronavirus. On the other hand, you could refuse to talk or think about the virus at all.

The Grieving Process

The five stages of grief according to Elizabeth Kübler-Ross include, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. You may go back and forth between the stages, stay at one stage for awhile, or skip some stages. Denial numbs the shock until you are able to cope. Anger provides an outlet for your feelings, even though it masks the deeper emotions that you are not ready for. Bargaining can help you postpone your sadness as you try to find ways to control the outcome. There are a lot of “what if” statements in bargaining. Depression enables you to get in touch with some of your deeper feelings. You may isolate yourself and stop engaging in activities you used to enjoy.  Acceptance means you acknowledge the loss and understand what it means in your life. If you are experiencing coronavirus grief, there are some things you can do to help.

Acknowledge Your Feelings

Loss experienced or anticipated is hard to process. Your feelings are valid and there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Grief is experienced differently by different people and it takes time to heal. Sometimes, just acknowledging that you are grieving can be helpful. When you ignore your feelings, you avoid processing them. By acknowledging and validating your feelings, you can begin to feel them, process them, and start healing. It is okay to feel whatever you are feeling. There is no reason to compare your loss to others. You can grieve, you can feel, and you can heal, no matter what type of loss you are dealing with during the pandemic.

Practice Self-Care

Make sure you are practicing good self-care. In the beginning of the grieving process, this can simply mean eating and getting enough sleep. Exercising, following a daily routine, and engaging in relaxing activities can also be beneficial. As you go through the grieving process, effective coping skills can be added. Mindfulness, meditation, and visualization techniques can be helpful during the grieving process. Writing about your experience and feelings, or keeping a daily gratitude journal can also be beneficial. No matter how you practice self-care, be gentle with yourself and remember that grief is a process.

Seek Support

Although social distancing is needed at this time, if you are experiencing grief, you will need support. Reach out to friends and loved ones. Share your experience and your feelings. You don’t have to go through this alone. Set up regular video conferences with your support group. Call your close friends and encourage them to share as well. Sometimes just knowing that you are not alone can make a big difference in your grief. If you are having difficulty coping and it is having a negative impact on your daily functioning and emotional well-being, you can seek help from a professional. Many therapists and psychiatrists are offering virtual sessions now. 

If you are struggling with a sense of loss during the coronavirus, remember that grief is a normal response. Grief is a process and healing requires time. Give yourself and others the time and attention needed to grieve effectively. Although things may be different now, healing is still possible.

7 Ways To Help Your Marriage Survive The Coronavirus

7 Ways To Help Your Marriage Survive The Coronavirus

As everyone adjusts to spending more time at home, marriages are being impacted. While it might initially be nice to spend time with your spouse, with no end in sight, it can eventually become challenging. In order to keep the current situation from having a negative impact on your relationship, adjustments will be needed. Below are some things you can try to help your marriage survive the coronavirus.

1. Discuss Expectations

During this time, schedules may be very different than what you are used to. It will be important to be clear about your needs and expectations. Expectations surrounding extra chores, childcare, work, personal needs, couple time, and family time should be discussed. When you don’t talk about these things, you may feel you are doing most of the work, and your spouse can feel the same way, which can lead to resentment. Talking about these things can allow you to come up with a schedule and plan that works for both of you and takes everyone’s needs into consideration, which is good for your marriage. With everyone home all of the time now, there is probably more cooking, cleaning, and other chores to manage. It is easy to let these extra tasks become a point of contention if you don’t share your needs and expectations with your partner. By discussing these things, stating your needs, and coming up with workable solutions, you can keep your relationship and household running smoothly.

2. Create Boundaries

Since isolating with your partner is a new experience, you will need to create some boundaries so your marriage can survive. If you are both working from home, it will be important to clearly define your work needs. For instance, if you have a conference call from 10-12, you can let your spouse know that you will need privacy during this time. If they need something, you will not be able to respond until after 12. For a boundary to be effective, you must clearly state what you expect as well as the consequences for breaking the boundary. Boundaries help your marriage remain strong as you are clear with your needs. As everyone adjusts to the situation, it will become clear where boundaries are needed in order to keep the peace.

3. Discuss Worries

Being able to lean on your partner during times of trouble can help you safe and secure in your marriage. When you share your worries and concerns with your spouse, they are less likely to come out in other ways. While it is normal to be a little short-tempered during times of uncertainty, being more direct about your concerns can keep you from picking fights over small things. You may be experiencing many fears about the coronavirus. Worries related to getting sick, caring for sick family members, financial concerns, job security, and when things will return to normal, may be on your mind. Keeping these things to yourself can increase anxiety related to the coronavirus. Having open discussions with your partner provides a safe environment to share your worries and talk about your concerns. When you feel you can turn to your partner, you will probably feel closer to them.

4. Spend Time Together

While you might feel as though you spend all of your time with your spouse these days, it is still important to spend quality time together. Plan time to spend together and be intentional with what you will do during that time. Make sure you let your partner know when you would like to spend time with them and what you want to do during that time. You can plan a date night in. Cooking dinner together, playing a game, or discussing future plans and dreams are some ways to spend time together. Don’t forget about emotional and sexual intimacy, which are important for a healthy marriage. Touch and affection can lower anxiety and help keep your connection strong. 

5. Spend Time Alone

Although spending time together is important, so is spending time alone. Too much togetherness can be hard on your relationship. Make sure you are each spending time alone as well. Alone time is for working on your individual hobbies and interests. It’s time for you to relax and recharge. You can use this time to process your feelings, fears and concerns individually. This gives you time away from each other and away from work where you are focused on your individual needs and wants. When you have time alone to focus on yourself, you will be more likely to enjoy the time you and your spouse spend together.

6. Fight Fair

Disagreements and fights with your spouse are bound to occur with all of the forced togetherness, uncertainty and fear. When an argument does happen, it’s important to fight fair. In order to fight fair, you want to make sure you stick to the current topic and not bring up things from the past. Use effective communication skills. This means you use “I” statements, your partner reflects back what they hear you say, and you have a chance to clarify if needed. Agree to take a time out if things become too heated, or if name calling or belittling occurs. When you take a time out and separate for a while to calm down, make sure you state a time when you will come back and try again. This way your partner knows that what they have to say is important to you, they just need to adjust how they are saying it.

7. Practice Compassion And Repair

When you argue or disagree with your partner, it’s important to practice compassion and repair so healing can take place. Trying to understand the situation from your partner’s perspective is a good way to practice compassion. You can do things that you know cheer up your partner to help them feel better. Repair is about making things okay between the two of you, even if you are agreeing to disagree. Empathizing with your spouse lets them know that you understand their point of view. A heartfelt apology when needed, given verbally or through actions can help restore the peace. Making up after an argument can help you feel closer to each other.

If the coronavirus quarantine is having a negative impact on your relationship, try the above tips. Couples counseling, either virtually or in person can help if you continue to struggle. Although the current situation can be challenging, with some adjustments your marriage can survive.

7 Ways To Cope With Family Isolation Due To The Coronavirus

7 Ways To Cope With Family Isolation Due To The Coronavirus

With social distancing becoming the norm during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, daily routines are drastically changing. As schools close and many parents work from home, adjusting to the changes can be quite challenging. It is common for anxiety to increase during times of change and uncertainty. However, there are some things you can try to help protect your mental health and make it easier to cope with family isolation due to the coronavirus.

1. Create Some New Family Rules

Family rules help keep everyone on the same page by establishing expectations and consequences. As everyone adjusts to spending a lot of time in close quarters with each other, it will be easy to see where rules might be needed to maintain the peace. You may need to establish rules around personal space, work needs, daily chores, and screen time. If you are working from home, you may need to discuss with your children what that means and what you expect from them. Rules should be clear, stated positively, and have consequences that everyone understands. Consequences can be either negative or positive and can increase if the rule continues to be broken. Creating some new family rules can make it easier for everyone to understand what is expected during this time.

2. Maintain A Flexible Schedule

Following a daily schedule is normal for most people, this is especially true of children who often do well with a structured routine. In times of uncertainty, a daily routine can create a sense of normalcy. Having a schedule in place can help families cope with the current situation more effectively. However, a strict schedule could be very difficult to follow during the adjustment period. At this time, many children are participating in online school and many parents are working from home. While it’s helpful to have a schedule, without some flexibility the schedule can add more stress to your lives. For instance, if your children are supposed to do their school work from 10 a.m. until 12 p.m., and the system is down then, arranging the schedule differently will be necessary. A schedule that allows for flexibility when needed will be most beneficial to your family at this time.

3. Support Each Other

This situation is new for everyone. There is a lot of uncertainty and unknowns and anxiety typically increases under these conditions. Talk about your needs, worries, and concerns. Ask for help if you need it. Come up with a plan for dividing responsibilities and chores that works for your family. Your children also need a place to share their feelings and experiences. If you listen to each other and encourage open sharing, you will be less likely to start resenting one another. Children are less likely to act out and have a tantrum if you are able to help them put words to their feelings. This difficult situation can be made a little easier for everyone with proper support.

4. Teach Life Skills

Use this time to teach your children important life skills. Children and teens often have busy schedules. Between school, homework, and after school activities it can be hard to find spare time. Since you have time to spend with each other during the family isolation period, you can use this time to teach your kids important life skills. You can teach your children how to cook a meal, clean the house, do their own laundry, maintain a car, and balance a checkbook. Younger children can help you by putting together ingredients, or handing you tools. Older children can first complete some of these tasks with you, and when ready can try to do it on their own. When it is time for your children to go out into the world on their own, it will be easier to let them go when you are confident they have the necessary skills.

5. Spend Time Together

Spend time together as a family. Even though you are together more at this time, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are spending quality time together. You still want to be intentional about scheduling time with your family. Spend time playing together outside, exercise together, or practice meditation and other mindfulness activities. Family game nights, make your own pizza nights, and family movie nights are some ways to encourage spending quality time together as a family. When you spend time together focusing on fun instead of your worries, the entire family will benefit. You can use this time together to grow closer to one another.

6. Implement Quiet Time

While spending time together at this time is important, so is spending time alone. Both children and adults benefit from scheduling a quiet time during the day. This is a time during the day that everyone spends time alone engaging in quiet, solitary activities from 30 minute to 1 hour. Quiet time provides an opportunity to engage in self-care, focus on and process your feelings, utilize your imagination, and practice mindfulness. Having this time away from one another can minimize arguments between siblings and gives everyone personal space. Spending time engaged in solitary, quiet activities is good for everyone in the family.

7. Encourage Acceptable Social Interaction

Humans are wired for connection. Social distancing can make it harder to feel connected to others, which can increase feelings of loneliness. While it may not be a good idea to connect with others face-to-face, there are safe ways to stay connected. Video calls, staying connected on social media, phone calls, texting, and even letter writing are safe ways to stay connected with friends and family, while maintaining a safe distance. Making sure your family members stay in touch with their social connections during this time is important to their emotional well-being.

Although family isolation during the coronavirus outbreak can be difficult, you can survive and even thrive with some adjustments. If you have tried implementing the above strategies and are still struggling, virtual family therapy can help. By putting a plan in place, your family can come out of this isolation period with an even stronger connection.

7 Ways To Help Manage Coronavirus Anxiety

7 Ways To Help Manage Coronavirus Anxiety

While you want to try to remain physically healthy during the coronavirus outbreak, it is also important to take care of your mental health. Anxiety and fear may be a normal expectation as you try to navigate the changes and uncertainties of the evolving situation. Even though symptoms of anxiety may increase at this time, it does not have to have a negative impact on your emotional well-being. If you are feeling increased fear and worry, there are some things you can do to help manage coronavirus anxiety.

Anxiety and Fear

Anxiety and fear are a normal response to a situation that can impact your life and routine in a number of ways with a lot of unknowns, such as the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. You may worry about getting sick and how that might affect you. Maybe you are worried that the healthcare system won’t be able to keep up with the demands. There can be financial concerns if you get sick, or if others are no longer supporting your industry. Perhaps you are worried that the situation, or impact of the situation will be long lasting. When there are a lot of uncertainties, it can be easy to imagine the worst case scenario. Although some anxiety can be helpful, as it gives you the motivation to prepare. Too much anxiety can have a negative impact on your emotional well-being. If anxiety is increasing due to the coronavirus, there are some things you can try to help protect your mental health.

1. Learn The Facts

During a pandemic like the coronavirus, it is important to learn the facts. While there may be a lot of information going around, not all of it will be factual. It is important that you get your information from reputable sources, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), or the World Health Organization (WHO). Learning the facts about the coronavirus, such as symptoms, duration, and how to protect yourself from exposure, enables you to take precautions in meaningful ways. Knowing the facts can help decrease levels of anxiety as it gives you some idea of things you can do that are within your control.

2. Limit Media Exposure

While it is important to stay informed and updated on the coronavirus, too much exposure can cause an increase in your anxiety. This is especially true when you are dealing with uncertainty. If you notice that you are constantly watching or reading the news and your worries and concerns are increasing, you may want to limit your exposure. Limiting your exposure to information about the virus to between 30 and 60 minutes a day can improve your mental health. This also enables your brain to sort and process the information you are getting, instead of feeling overwhelmed by the amount of new information you are receiving.

3. Minimize Your Risk

Although there are many things related to the coronavirus that are not within your control, there are some things you can do to minimize your risk. You can stay home when you are sick and practice social distancing. Avoid contact with those that are sick. Wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds. Try to avoid touching your face often. Keep surfaces clean and disinfected. Cover with a tissue or your elbow when you cough or sneeze. Make sure you have basic supplies and medications you need for yourself and your family members. By taking precautions to minimize your risk, you can decrease feelings of anxiety.

4. Seek Support

Social distancing might be an important practice to minimize the spread of illness. However, social support can help decrease levels of anxiety during this time as well. While social gatherings with friends and loved ones might not be the best idea, there are other ways to stay connected. You can call, video chat, or message friends and loved ones to stay in touch. Share your thoughts, fears and concerns. Listen to what they have to say. While you might be challenged to interact with others differently during this time, it can feel just as supportive and rewarding.

5. Practice Mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness is a great way to decrease symptoms of anxiety. Mindfulness refers to being fully present in the moment without judgment. Meditation and grounding techniques can help you practice mindfulness. When you are focusing on what is going on around you, less attention is paid to what is going on within you. This way you are absorbed in what you are doing, instead of what you are thinking. You can try an app, such as Calm or Insight Timer to help you relax or meditate. One of the easiest ways to practice mindfulness is to engage all of your senses. Notice what you are seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, and tasting. Practicing mindfulness is calming, grounding, and relaxing and can help decrease feelings of anxiety.

6. Practice Self-Care

Make self-care a priority. Keep up with your normal routines and daily schedule as much as possible. Eat healthy, exercise, and maintain good sleep habits. Put yourself on your schedule and do things that relax and refresh you. Take a relaxing bath, make a cup of tea, light a scented candle, play a game, or spend time with your family members. It is not really about what you do. The important thing is that you are caring for yourself, both physically and emotionally.

7. Journal 

If you notice your thoughts are racing, or you are catastrophizing, journaling can help. When you journal, you are able to put your thoughts on paper. This can keep you from ruminating on them. It also provides an opportunity to organize your thoughts. Reading over what you wrote enables you to observe your thoughts more objectively. You can then challenge some of your negative thought patterns and look for alternative ways to change them that are both accurate and kind. Doing this can help decrease symptoms of anxiety.

If you are experiencing coronavirus anxiety that is having a negative impact on your emotional well-being at this time, counseling can help. Many therapists are offering virtual sessions now. This way you can take care of your mental health while also protecting your physical health.

COVID-19 Update

In response to the current coronavirus threat, online/virtual appointments are now available.