We’re nearing Valentine’s Day and a time of year many people think about the relationships in their lives as well as potentially starting new ones. It seems like everywhere you look, people are holding hands and all our favorite venues are advertising on how to impress that special someone. Before getting swept away with the season, consider the importance of the relationship you have with yourself, and how this prepares you for all future relationships, romantic or friendly.
How We Talk to Ourselves
As a therapist, I often focus on how our thoughts interact with behavior and mood. How we talk to ourselves is a key component of our overall health. To better understand your self-talk, begin by simply noticing your inner dialogue throughout the day. You may consider keeping a log of these thoughts or make a mental note of some messages you send yourself. The second step is to begin categorizing these thoughts and identify themes such as “I noticed I’m typically critical of myself”, or “I tend to shy away from opportunities because I doubt my ability,” etc. By recognizing our thought patterns we begin to understand how our self-talk impacts our mood and daily life.
Encourage Healthy Thinking Patterns
Next, you can begin challenging or replacing critical thoughts with healthier alternatives. If you’re being overly critical of yourself, try asking “what would my best friend tell me right now?” They would likely say “go for it, I believe in you” or “I think you’re awesome just the way you are!” By replacing critical, and often unnecessary thoughts, with more realistic or positive alternatives we begin to treat ourselves more kindly, or just like a friend would. Another helpful practice is to give yourself positive affirmations so you can avoid or quickly reframe negative thinking patterns. Some of my favorites are “I’m stronger than I think I am,” or “I’ll do the best I can, and focus on my effort rather than the unknown outcomes.” You can also begin or end your day by taking a few moments to reflect on three things you’re grateful for. The culmination of these small steps will help you treat yourself with compassion while encouraging healthy thinking patterns.
Prioritize Healthy Behavioral Patterns
Being your biggest supporter also includes taking care of your physical body by getting plenty of sleep, exercising, and drinking plenty of water while eating nutritious meals. Poor sleeping habits cause a variety of issues in our lives including increased stress and loss of energy. Committing to sleeping 7-9 hours each night, while also taking the opportunity to train for your first 5k, or learning to snowshoe is a great way to improve your wellbeing. Use your healthy thinking skills to encourage yourself to make the positive changes you want, while viewing obstacles as learning experiences to help you grow.
By taking time this season to “date yourself” or at least be your biggest supporter, you can begin the year by prioritizing healthy thinking and behavioral patterns that will create a healthy relationship with yourself and others along the way.
If you want additional support this year creating your healthy self, just reach out to one of my skilled colleagues or myself and we’ll be glad to help you reach your personal goals!