Last week, we discussed foundational self-care building blocks. Did you get to try them out? How are you feeling? Have you noticed a change in your energy?
Once you have a solid base to build from, you can elevate your self-care practice a few notches. This is where you can start to really improve your mental/ emotional state.
The first, simple upgrade is to look at your media consumption.
Ask yourself these questions:
Are you watching violent or drama filled TV shows where all people do is argue or fight? This can actually be emotionally draining.
What kind of music are you listening to? Does it make you feel good?
What are you reading? Does it uplift you and enhance your well being, or is it escapist or alarmist?
How about social media? Do you read inspiring posts, or posts that make you feel less than your best?
If you are consistently bombarded with media that has negative, violent, or overly dramatic themes, it can affect your emotional state. Placing yourself in that environment will make it more difficult to process your own life.
A great exercise is to simply stop and ask yourself, “How does this make me feel?”
Watching your beloved crime drama before bed might not be the best idea because we internalize what we see and hear. Years ago, I was a regular Law and Order watcher. While I liked seeing how the story would unfold and the crime would get solved, I remember more than once having bad dreams after watching a particularly intense episode. Today, I don’t watch much TV, but when I do I pick something that makes me laugh. Laughter is truly the best medicine and increases our happy state.
We always have a choice, so make it a positive one. Think about what you are immersing your mind in on a daily basis. It might need to be cut out of your life to actually enhance your life.
Next, think about your relationships.
Do you surround yourself with positive people who are filled with joy? Or are your people critical and negative? Do they put you down or lift you up?
While completely cutting out the toxic person may not be possible (sometimes they’re family members!), we can learn to set boundaries and limit our time with those that are negative or hurtful. Know when to walk away if a conversation goes sour. Smaller doses of negative people are easier to handle. By being aware of these people in our life, we can be proactive in how we handle ourselves during the encounter.
This awareness lets us accept another person for where he or she is in life, we can then be more patient and empathetic with those who are difficult.
Take time to cultivate relationships with the positive people in your life, and develop relationships with those that you admire and look up to.
Lastly, we are often our own worst critic. How we talk to ourselves greatly impacts our well being.
Do you talk down to yourself, or do you talk to yourself in a positive way? When was the last time you stopped to listen to your inner monologue?.
Once I started observing the talk in my head, I knew things needed to change. I was creating drama and stress by questioning everything.
My dialogue went something like this, “Oh my! How is this all going to get done? I wish I had help. This is crazy. I guess I deserve this life. I’m already exhausted and the day has barely started. I wish my life was more like hers. Why don’t my kids sleep?”
I’m exhausted just reading that quote today. I had a constant chatter going that only exasperated the circumstances of my life.
When I finally learned that our thoughts shape our reality I was able to stop it. I consciously made the choice to end the nonsense.
Today for example, when I am working out I have the choice to say, “This is hard. I’m not going to make it.” Or, I have the choice to say, “I am strong. I am fierce. I am powerful.” Obviously, I want to choose the statement that helps me power through and finish the workout.
Just because you are aware of your thoughts does not mean the negative ones will not creep in, because they will. However, your awareness allows you to say to yourself, “Girl, I don’t have time for this.” Then you can delete the thought and replace it with a positive one. You have the ability to catch yourself before the negative downward spiral begins.
If you are struggling with improving your inner conversations in a positive fashion, having a clear mind is very helpful. Setting aside a few minutes each day for quiet can be very impactful for clarity of the mind. It doesn’t have to be a specific meditation or prayer time, it can simply be sitting still in silence. If quietness is not your thing, try getting outside for a walk or run to clear the mind. There is no right or wrong way to find your inner peace.
Being aware of your words and thoughts gives you the ability to change them positively.
In a nutshell, what and who we interact with can have a huge impact on our emotional well-being. Awareness allows us to make necessary changes in our daily lives or set boundaries where needed to facilitate a positive emotional environment.
As always, change only happens from within. When you start to change how you think and talk about yourself, many of the positive self care items will start to fall into place because you are truly caring about YOU.
What changes have you made to take better care of yourself? What new practices are you ready to put into place?