Written by Writer’s Corps member Amanda Phillips
We’ve all heard the saying that the most important relationship is the one you have with yourself — but even this relationship is subject to monumental ups and downs. Some days it’s easy to be kind to yourself and other days everything hits the fan and it’s difficult to stay out of a negative thought spiral.
I’ve battled depression for years — so I know what it’s like to be your own toughest critic.
“You’re not good enough.”
“You should have known better.”
“You could have tried harder!” are thoughts I’ve struggled with daily but I knew I had to find a kinder, healthier way to deal with thoughts that made me feel hopeless. My solution? Find self-care practices that help to lower the volume of my inner critic and improve my overall relationship with myself! Before you roll your eyes at the idea of using self-care and positive thoughts to fend off the negative ones, I challenge you to try a few of the techniques I’ve listed below and see what effects they have on your life.
1. Start Keeping a Journal
Journaling used to make me think of those fuzzy pink diaries with locks you see on Disney Channel shows, but it’s so much more! Every night before bed I “unload” my thoughts from that day, whether something great happened or the day felt like a total waste. Why? Because journaling helps me find patterns, whether they’re good or bad, that makes me more aware of what is triggering my negative thoughts.
After journaling for a month, don’t be surprised if you look back and think, “Wow, my boss/mom/partner really was nagging me that day.” Identifying your triggers is the first empowering step you can take to address them. If it’s too stressful to speak directly with the person triggering you, whether it’s a partner or parent, enlist the help of a trusted friend or counselor.
2. Find Your Reset Button
I’m a world champion “worst-case scenario” thinker when I’m not careful and I’ve found the easiest way to get out of my head is to press the reset button using self-care. For me self-care is not always the easy stuff, like a bubble bath or a vacation, sometimes it’s calling a friend for a pep talk when the stress of work is getting to me.
Think about what your reset button might be, whether it’s a Spotify playlist to jam to on your way to work (here’s mine!) or asking your bestie to go on a run, then find ways to include that into your daily life.
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3. Leave Yourself Reminders
Research shows that writing down a goal will make you more likely to achieve it. That’s good news for me because when I’m feeling particularly stressed I call in reinforcements in the form of affirmation Post-It notes. I like to think of this as taking goal setting a step further by applying it to what I want to believe about myself.
Pro Tip: What’s one positive affirmation you want to be reminded of? Write it on a Post-It. Stick it on the bathroom mirror then leave us a comment on social media (@Join1love) letting us know what your personal affirmation is. I’m serious! Go for it!
4. Go To The Group Chat!
Imagine for a moment that you’re in the throes of one of the worst days ever. Sure negative thoughts may creep in but at your fingertips, there is a group chat filled with some of your favorite people.
Love them or hate them, group texts can be a well of endless encouragement when your nitpicky inner critic goes into overdrive. The next time you’re dealing with a bout of negative self-talk, ask yourself what would your best friend say or ask them directly via group chat.
5. Get Your “Ohmmm” On
Meditation is so in right now, and there’s a reason! Studies have linked meditation with stress and anxiety reduction, and well, who doesn’t need less of those two things? When we’re less anxious it’s much simpler to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
Sound too good to be true? It isn’t! There are tons of YouTube videos and apps that can guide you through a mediation session if just sitting still and breathing isn’t your thing.
RELATED: Your Partner Can’t Always Be There for You, But Self-Care Can
What works for me might not work for you, so be brave in exploring what self-care practice is best. So, pick up some Post-It notes, start that gratitude journal you’ve been putting off, and start rallying your friends in group chat! You deserve a healthy relationship with yourself, and these self-care strategies are a great way to get there.