"You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here." — DesiderataRead More
"The time to relax is when you don't have time for it." — Sydney J. HarrisRead More
I invite you to take a moment to become aware of your breath:
- Is it quick or slow?
- Does it feel shallow or deep?
- Is your breath flowing smoothly or is it irregular?
- Notice if there is any sound associated with your breath.
- Are there any emotions or feelings that come up for you as you pay attention to your breathing?
Breathing is a natural process that we do all day, every single day, without paying much attention to it. However, breathing can also be a powerful tool to calm the mind and body and enhance your wellbeing. Some people only focus on breathing when there is an issue, but practicing intentional breathing will improve your overall health as well as help you access the relaxation response when you need it most.
Intentional (or mindful) breathing is a great technique because you can practice it anywhere, it works for any age or fitness level and you don’t need any fancy or expensive equipment. Your breath practice will support you in whatever activities you are already doing. It’s a simple tool with profound effects that can help you focus your thoughts and feel more grounded and centered. Here are some of the ways intentional breathing can help you:
When You Are Feeling Stressed
When faced with unexpected or trying situations, the following can occur: your blood pressure shoots up, your muscles become tense and stress takes the wheel, leaving you scrambling to overcome the obstacles that are before you. Intentional breathing is one way to combat the sudden stress in your life. Calm, deep breaths have been proven to lower your blood pressure as well as clear your head and allow you to focus better on how to overcome the issue. Since life is unpredictable, having a breathing technique in your back pocket can give you an additional tool to prepare you for what is ahead. One of my favorite breathing techniques for relieving stress is called exhaling with sound:
- Breathe in deeply so that air fills your abdomen.
- Hold the breath for a few moments.
- As you release air through your mouth, make a resonant sound such as “ahhh…”, like a sigh of release.
The combination of breath and sound is very effective in releasing stress and tension from deep inside. Repeat the cycle 3 to 5 times until you feel calmer.
Throughout the world, the art of breathing has been practiced by all cultures and age groups—everyone can benefit from practicing intentional breathing. The different techniques can help depending on your lifestyle, daily routine, and overall level of health. Learning how to include breathing exercises in your everyday life can yield positive results for your health and wellbeing. Deep breathing is a simple and effective technique to prepare your mind and body to enter into a deep state of relaxation:
- Place one hand on your chest and one hand on your abdomen. This will allow you to feel your abdomen move as you breathe.
- Breathe in slowly and deeply through your nose, letting the air fill your lungs and abdomen.
- Slowly exhale through your nose or mouth.
- Repeat 3 to 5 times, or until you establish a slow, regular breathing pattern.
Supplementing Your Relaxation Training
Intentional breathing might not be the first thing you think of when it comes to relaxation. The media often focuses on pursuits such as yoga, Pilates, and meditation. While these techniques are excellent options for a healthy relaxation routine, intentional breathing is the foundation of all relaxation techniques. Reviewing the different types of breathing can give you a deeper understanding of how intentional breathing can give you a new lease on life. Breathing techniques require practice to fine tune and can improve both your mental and physical health by leaps and bounds if you use them on a regular basis. All it takes to begin is dedicating some time and shining the brilliant light of your awareness on something that we all take for granted on a daily basis—our breath!
You can contact me with any questions about breathing and/or other relaxation techniques by emailing me at email@example.com
Why are good habits so hard to develop? Not only is it challenging to establish certain regular routines, it can often be a stressful process. If you find yourself struggling to adopt a desired habit, creating a ritual can be an enjoyable, effective way to facilitate positive change.
We all have routines we easily do on a daily basis (e.g. personal hygiene, simple chores, etc.) but others are not so automatic (e.g. getting enough sleep, meditating, eating healthy). Rituals provide more than a process for developing a habit—they also have elements that relieve stress, add meaning and motivate us to keep it going.
The Calming Effect
One of the most important reasons why incorporating rituals into your daily life enhances positive wellbeing is the overall comfort factor. Having a calming ritual can improve your overall wellbeing by helping to ease your fight or flight response. This reaction is activated when you face the unknown. With daily rituals in place, your fight or flight response is softened immensely. Adding pleasant activities to a ritual creates a calming effect, so you actually look forward to the process instead of avoiding it. Even when things at work are hectic or there is an issue in your personal life, knowing that you can rely on the welcome distraction of a comforting ritual makes it much easier to move forward instead of drawing back. For example, if you want to create a bedtime ritual to improve your sleep habits, you could add activities such as drinking soothing lemon balm tea or warm cinnamon milk, doing some gentle stretching, taking a bath, listening to a relaxing recording and/or reading a light-hearted book. The key is to choose activities you truly enjoy so you associate the healthy habit (in this example, getting enough sleep) with the pleasant ritual.
A Way to Add Meaning
As you create a ritual for your desired habit, it helps if you can truly connect it to your daily life in a soulful, meaningful way. Think about what it would mean to you if you could fully embrace your desired habit and succeed in making it a daily practice. Imagine yourself already accomplishing this goal, and what it feels like doing it every day. You could also make a vision board, write in a journal, check in regularly with a friend or coach, or find some other way that works for you to add meaning to this habit you desire. Once you decide, you can incorporate it into your ritual. To use the sleep example again, you could include a brief exercise of imagining yourself sleeping peacefully as a part of your bedtime ritual—each time you do this, it will become easier and easier to accept this image of yourself as a healthy sleeper. Making a sleep vision board with all kinds of positive sleep images and/or using a dream journal are other ways to create a bedtime ritual that is meaningful to you. You can adapt this idea to other types of habits such as healthy eating, meditating, exercising or any habit you want to acquire.
O.K., so you have added some calming elements to your ritual to relieve any stress associated with developing a habit, and you have decided on a way to make the ritual and the habit meaningful to you. Is this enough to keep you on track? Perhaps it is, but if you need more than that to fully embrace the habit, there might be a way to further motivate you to maintain it. This is a time to look deeply within yourself to find what motivates you. Maybe you are already aware of it, or maybe you have to dig a little to discover what could be a reward or motivation you can build into your ritual to keep you going. I will give some examples, but it is up to you to figure out which rewards work best for you. With our sleep example, you could reward yourself with aromatherapy (choose your favorite scent), splurge on some luxurious socks (e.g. cashmere) to wear to bed (the National Sleep Foundation suggests wearing socks to promote sleep), use special sheets on your bed (e.g. high thread count cotton, satin, flannel—whatever feels good to you), wear silk pajamas, affirm yourself for sticking to your routine (more about affirmations here), and/or start doing things you were too tired to enjoy when you were so sleep deprived. What motivates one person might not work for another, but once you discover your rewards and motivation, any habit will be much easier to develop.
Although I used the example of getting enough sleep, you can choose any habit you want to develop, and try applying these ideas to see if they can help you succeed. If you have any questions or ideas to share, feel free to comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Practicing loving kindness meditation fosters a sense of kindness and friendliness toward the self and others through extending good wishes and intentions, and opening the heart to a life of love and acceptance.Read More
I remember when sleep came easily to me...Read More
I’ve heard it said that two things are better than one. In the case of relaxation, that might not be too far from the truth. More often than not, the idea of relaxation conjures up images of a solitary person walking in nature, taking deep breaths on a park bench, practicing yoga or some other activity to rebalance your state of mind. Relaxing on your own can be very effective, but have you considered just how beneficial it could be to have someone there practicing the fine art of relaxation beside you? Having a partner in relaxation can provide you with benefits you never knew you lacked when practicing relaxation techniques. Below are a few reasons why you might want to consider making part of your relaxation time a group effort.
Discovering New Relaxation Techniques One of the biggest benefits of inviting someone else to join in on your relaxation time is allowing them to bring something new to the table. Since everyone has their own specific techniques, you might be missing out on one which could open a whole new world of stress relief. In turn, you will be able to share with your new partner the ways in which you find the most peace through relaxation techniques.
Focus Assistance If your personality leans towards always-on-the-go, then you might find it difficult to just sit in one place and focus on relaxation for longer than a few moments. Having someone there to help might be the perfect missing piece. A relaxation partner can help you remain focused when your mind tends to wander towards other things going on in your life. Taking time out of your schedule to make sure your needs are met can be a major challenge for many people. With someone at your side helping you stay on the right track, it can make all the difference.
Guilt Eraser As we’ve previously discussed on this blog, many people have a difficult time indulging in “me time”, so to speak. Setting aside time to practice relaxation techniques can often lead to feelings of guilt over being too self-indulgent or not productive on projects you need to get finished. Partnering up with a relaxation friend or small group can help it feel less like an indulgence and more like an actual event that is important enough to put on your calendar. Relaxation time is very important, and practicing relaxation techniques together can help you shed the guilty feelings because you see how it benefits each other.
Bonding Experience By sharing a common experience with another person, you begin to build a bond with them. Through the years as a relaxation coach, I’ve noticed that when people relax together, a peaceful energy occurs that can be a wonderful bonding experience. Whether it’s with a spouse, your children, siblings, coworkers, or even new friends, these bonding experiences can serve to help you reach your optimal level of relaxation as well as ensure a strong connection between you.
As you continue to enjoy individual relaxation, it can be so rewarding to invite others to join you at times. If you ever have questions about relaxation and stress management, feel free to email me at email@example.com
May you find joy in relaxing together
This is the time of year when we see many of our friends and family members announcing their resolutions for the New Year. While resolutions may work for some, I prefer to focus on intentions for how I want to live my life in the new year. Intentions encompass more than just the things you would like to do, but also the ways in which you would like to live your life. Fulfilling your 2017 intentions may involve adapting your routine, mindset or practices to live more in line with your desires and worldview.
If your intentions involve being more resilient, at peace or focused on the positive things in your life, integrating a regular relaxation practice into your daily life can support these goals. The key to building a sustainable relaxation practice is making sure that it fits with your lifestyle (so that you will be more likely to stick with it). Here are some questions to ask yourself as you build a relaxation practice that will support your intentions in the year to come.
What activities do I find relaxing?
Relaxation comes in many forms. Think through activities that you have done in the past (or currently do) that relax you. These could involve exercise (yoga, stretching, biking, swimming, etc.), reading, watching a movie, listening to music, creative projects (art, cooking, singing), being in a relaxing environment (a museum, spa, or park), or spending time with people who make you feel at ease. Taking a relaxation class or listening to relaxation recordings is another great way to calm your mind and body. Once you’ve identified these activities, schedule in at least one or two per week and allow yourself time to fully enjoy doing them.
When do I have breaks or downtime during my day?
Many of us tend to think that we need to carve out large chunks of time for relaxation. While it can be wonderful to spend multiple hours or an entire day relaxing, this is not realistic for most of us as we move through our daily lives. The good news is that there are plenty of shorter relaxation exercises that can be done during your lunch break or right when you come home from work. One of the most effective ways to relax during the workday is using relaxation techniques such as intentional breathing, muscle relaxation exercises, guided imagery or meditation. Deep breathing allows for more oxygen to enter the body, which can be both relaxing and restorative. Muscle relaxation involves bringing your awareness to various groups of muscles and relaxing them with breathwork, imagery and/or tensing and releasing the muscles until your entire body is relaxed. Guided imagery is a narrative that engages the imagination and senses and guides the mind toward a relaxed, focused state. The loving kindness meditations that I like to use are a way to calm your heart and mind while encouraging peaceful and loving thoughts about those around you. If you only have a little time, you can choose one technique for a 3-5 minute session, or if you are really in a hurry, try my 1-minute relaxation break. When you have more time to relax, you can combine these four techniques into an enjoyable, effective relaxation training session. These relaxation techniques can be practiced with the help of a recording or on your own once you know how to do them.
Where is the best place for me to start? How can I build relaxation into my life in a sustainable way?
Once you’ve thought through your options for relaxation and the times during your day or week when you can relax, decide on a starting point and build from there. This process will be different for everyone. For example, begin by committing to a weekly relaxation hour, whether it’s a yoga or relaxation training class, an individual relaxation session, or even setting aside a time to listen to a guided relaxation recording. Committing to that weekly time and making it a priority cues your mind and body to relax. Once that gets going, then layer in a daily relaxing activity that can vary in length depending on how much time you have that day (see relaxation training for ideas). The next week, try a calming audio book or guided relaxation recording as you settle into bed. The key is to gradually build sustainable relaxation activities into your life.
Consistent relaxation can help us live a more peaceful and fulfilling life in 2017. If you have any questions about relaxation, coaching or wellness feel free to email me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org
Wishing you a refreshing feeling of ease in the New Year!
When you take time out for yourself, then you will be able to give more of yourself. Continually giving everything you have when you are running on fumes will never provide the best results.Read More
Keeping your energy reserves filled can be a challenging task this time of year. However, it’s an essential part of staying healthy and enjoying the holiday season.Read More
Picturing your goal, using all your senses to imagine yourself overcoming obstacles, is one of the most vital ways of using guided imagery.Read More
Since you can’t completely banish pressure from your life, the next best thing is to find a way to manage the tension you do have.Read More
The most important thing to remember is that you need to live your life and enjoy it, especially during difficult times. The joy you derive from doing pleasant activities (either by yourself or with others) will sustain you and help you find pathways through whatever you or those around you are experiencing.Read More
Do you ever find yourself feeling stuck when working on a project? It is something that most of us deal with at different times of our lives. It might be while writing a book, composing a song, painting a new work of art, or some other creative endeavor—we sometimes find ourselves in a rut that can result in frustration or stress.
Being an artist or creative person, it is so vital to be able to get those creative juices flowing. Learning how to recognize being stuck and how to become “unstuck” is a challenge that every creative has and will face. As strange as it may sound, one of the best things that we can do is to relax. Often when we are stuck, we become more stressed and more frustrated, and it becomes a cycle. However, if you are able to tap into a few of the relaxation techniques below, it can free you and your creativity.
Breathing – Finding a comfortable, quiet place to sit or lie down and pay attention to your breathing is a quick, simple way to refocus. Pay attention to how you are breathing (normally versus deeply). Do this for several minutes, taking slow, deep breaths and making sure you exhale fully each time. This technique can help reduce fear and pain, but for stuck creatives, it can also help you clear your mind and alleviate the stress of trying to come up with your next project.
Muscle Relaxation – Focus on tensing and releasing each muscle group. Doing this for a few minutes can help relax your body and open up your mind. While you are focusing on tensing and releasing your muscles, you are no longer stressing or wondering how you will come up with that next idea. This technique is called Progressive Muscle Relaxation, and as its creator Edmund Jacobson said “An anxious mind cannot exist in a relaxed body.” Once the anxiety is released, your creative thinking has a chance to flourish.
Guided Imagery – Tap into your imagination and visualize yourself somewhere. Maybe it’s one of your favorite destinations for vacation, or possibly it’s a favorite restaurant, gallery or place in nature. You can fully engage each of your senses—touch, sight, taste, scent and sound—to bring the experience to life. Going somewhere else for a while in your mind can be a wonderful break, and you can return to your project with a fresh perspective.
Meditation – A part of becoming unstuck is to remove barriers or limitations that we might be experiencing. The reasons for these barriers vary, but could be work, relationships, finances or even our own thoughts. By meditating, we are centering our thoughts and focusing on the present. If you enjoy silent meditation, spend a few minutes in quiet reflection. If you struggle with silent meditation, you can try guided meditation to keep your thoughts from wandering to worries and preoccupations.
Do you have a favorite technique from above? To read more examples of each of these relaxation techniques, see some of my other blog posts such as How Relaxation Techniques Can Help You Focus, 1 Minute Relaxation Break, How Loving Kindness Meditations Can Help You and Guided Imagery: Relaxation via Your Imagination. Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter here.
May you find a time to relax and free your creative expression.
How often do you find yourself wishing for more hours in the day? If there were a way to magically snap our fingers and find a few extra hours to finish up tasks, most of us may be tempted to make the change. With so many things packed into a single day, it can be difficult to cut loose and find a little time for relaxation. Even the most hectic schedule can be maneuvered with a little planning. If you are the type of person who just can’t seem to find any time to take a deep breath, then check out some tips below on finding time for relaxation.
Must Do and Should Do – Tasks often fall into two categories—must do and should do. Whether they are chores around the house or projects for work, each category comes with its share of weight on your schedule. By stepping back and looking at them objectively, you can help ease your time crunch. Some things can wait until tomorrow.
Putting Yourself First – If you are the type of person who drops everything for everyone while leaving no time for yourself, then chances are you could stand to carve out a little “me” time. Taking care of yourself with regular relaxation breaks will actually increase your ability to do more and feel a whole lot better throughout the day. The best way I’ve found to fit in relaxation breaks is to completely rethink how we create our schedules. Before putting in tasks, meetings and appointments, begin with scheduling some relaxation breaks. I recommend actually assigning a time for each break, so that you can’t schedule something else in that time slot. You can experiment with a combination of a few very short breaks (1-5 minutes) and a couple of longer breaks (15-30) minutes, and treat them as the essential energy boosts that they are.
Make Use of Obstacles – Stuck in traffic or construction? Standing in a long line at the store or DMV? Is your daily bus taking a little longer to arrive? These overlooked blocks of time can be used to recharge with relaxation, if only for a few moments. Changing your perception of how you view these common inconveniences helps. Instead of having a negative notion of delays, start looking at them as opportunities to relax. You can try an intentional deep breathing exercise, do some gentle stretches, tense and release different muscle groups (otherwise known as progressive muscle relaxation), or spend a few moments thinking about one of your favorite places to be. Important tip: turn off your phone and/or computer during these times to prevent interruptions.
My wish for you is to find some space in your life for moments to relax, re-energize and enjoy life. If you have any questions about relaxation or would like to share your experiences, feel free to comment below or email me at email@example.com
Breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out, I clear my mind. May I take this moment to refresh myself.Read More
The Forgiveness Experiment
"If I cannot forgive myself
For all the blunders
That I have made
Over the years,
Then how can I proceed?
How can I ever
Move, I must, forward.
Fly, I must, upward.
Dive, I must, inward,
To be once more
What I truly am
And shall forever remain."
Forgiveness is a tricky concept. Not only can the act of forgiving someone be challenging, there is also confusion about what forgiveness actually accomplishes (and for whom). Forgiveness is frequently talked about in life coaching, religious/spiritual realms and holistic health circles, but did you know that scientists have also been studying the physiological benefits of forgiveness? One of the things they have discovered is that when you refuse to forgive someone, stress response chemicals are released into your system. These chemicals can have adverse effects on both your professional and personal lives by limiting creativity and problem-solving abilities. When you forgive, you cleanse your body of these stress chemicals, leaving you feeling calmer and more effective in your daily interactions.
You don’t have to be a scientist to conduct your own forgiveness experiment. We can all practice forgiving and letting go in our daily lives as a way to boost our own well-being and satisfaction with our lives.
I like to think of forgiveness as an experiment in the moment. If you are interested in experimenting with forgiveness, there are four things you want to remember:
1. Remember that you are not condoning the behavior; you are releasing the burden of resentment.
This is a confusing idea for many people. Many of us have been taught that forgiveness equals giving our stamp of approval to whatever negative thing someone did. Others think of forgiveness as enabling another person’s bad behavior (instead of interrupting the cycle). This is far from the truth. In fact, forgiveness is much more about the person doing the forgiving than the person being forgiven. The great thing about forgiveness is that it is not dependent on an apology from the person who acted in a negative way towards you. You can forgive someone without them ever knowing you did.
2. When practicing forgiveness, it is best not to choose the most difficult person at first.
If you are interested in trying the forgiveness experiment, first choose a person who brings up some irritation or frustration for you instead of someone who has seriously hurt you. In the beginning, it may work better if this person is not someone who is extremely close to you (like a spouse or child). As you become more comfortable with forgiveness, you can work toward forgiving those who are most challenging in your life.
3. Make use of relaxation techniques to help you with forgiveness.
Using relaxation techniques like intentional breathing and progressive muscle relaxation can help calm your mind and body so that you are in a place to truly forgive. Listening to a loving kindness meditation can help you send positive energy toward the person you are working to forgive, which can also help. Practicing forgiveness meditations is an especially effective way to master the art of forgiveness. I can offer help with this through classes and individual sessions.
4. Forgiveness is a process.
The forgiveness experiment is not an easy, one-time action—it is a process. Taking notice of what parts of the process are difficult for you is an important step to help you achieve total forgiveness. Some people have the most difficulty with forgiving themselves, which is an essential element of forgiveness. Most people need to practice forgiveness before it becomes a natural part of how they move through the world. It’s worth it to do the work in order to reap the benefits forgiveness brings to both your body and mind.
I decided to write about the forgiveness experiment and these guidelines because of clients who were struggling with forgiving others. One client in particular used her delightful sense of humor to work with her discomfort about forgiveness. She would say “O.K. Beth, let’s just stick with loving kindness tonight, because I am in no mood to do a forgiveness meditation. I am not feeling very forgiving tonight, ha ha!” I totally get that feeling of not being ready to forgive, so I researched forgiveness and found this idea of it being an experiment in the moment. So just for this moment, we can experiment with forgiveness with an excerpt from a beautiful forgiveness meditation by Stephen Levine:
"Begin by slowly bringing into your mind, into your heart, the image of someone for whom you have some resentment.
Gently allow a picture, a feeling, a sense of them to gather there.
Gently now invite them into your heart just for this moment.
Notice whatever fear or anger may arise to limit or deny their entrance
and soften gently all about it.
Just an experiment in truth which invites this person in.
And silently in your heart say to this person, “I forgive you.”
Open to a sense of their presence and say, “I forgive you for whatever pain you may have caused me in the past, intentionally or unintentionally, through your words, your thoughts, your actions. However you may have caused me pain in the past, I forgive you.”
Feel for even a moment the spaciousness relating to that person with the possibility of forgiveness.
Let go of those walls, those curtains of resentment, so that your heart may be free.
So that your life may be lighter.
“I forgive you for whatever you may have done that caused me pain, intentionally or unintentionally, through your actions, through your words, even through your thoughts, through whatever you did.
Through whatever you didn’t do.
However the pain came to me through you, I forgive you.
I forgive you.”
It is so painful to put someone out of your heart.
Let go of that pain.
Let them be touched for this moment at least with the warmth of your forgiveness.
“I forgive you, I forgive you.”
— from “A Forgiveness Meditation” by Stephen Levine
If you have any questions or need some help with the forgiveness experiment, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
May we all experience the freedom of forgiveness.
How often have you found yourself wondering if things will ever truly change? News stations produce a steady stream of negativity without delay. Every story, every video, and every article can be flipped to show just how truly easy it is to fall prey to the pessimistic lifestyle. It’s a bandwagon, of sorts. Becoming a pessimistic person – indulging in negative thoughts – can lead to a wholly discouraging worldview. Before you know it, your bleak outlook can begin to impact relationships with friends and family as well as your personal well-being.
Setting your viewpoint on an optimistic path will give you the courage to see life’s array of possibilities. Becoming an optimistic person doesn’t mean you lose empathy for the world beyond your control. Optimism means that you take control of your narrative. If you’re trying to find the optimist’s pathway but can barely see through the trees, check out some tips below for how to turn your perspective around:
A Grain of Salt: Remember – bad things happen in the world and many of them are beyond your control. That doesn’t mean everything happening in the world is bad. These so-called “clickbait” headlines are designed to trump up interest. Taking these stories with a grain of salt can make it easier to separate fact from fraud. Not every news story is as bad as the media might want you to think.
The Sunny Side: Taking a moment to indulge in the lighter side of life can be so freeing. You might sit outside on a sunny day, enjoy a fun conversation with friends, turn up the volume on your favorite song, and breathe easy. Being optimistic about the future allows you to look forward to good events coming into your life.
Avoiding Pointless Arguments: It’s hard to avoid having a presence online. Social media is pervasive no matter how you look at it. If you’ve heard the term ‘troll’ before, then you know how loud arguments can get online. If you find yourself engaging online in arguments with strangers looking to get a rise out of you – stop. Learn to avoid the temptation of a troll.
Finding an optimistic foothold in life may take time but it can truly bring you more fulfillment than letting negativity continually cloud your judgement.
Individuals who practice relaxation techniques, also called relaxation training, on a regular basis are not only investing in their mental and physical health, they are improving their focus as they move through life.Read More
"I love and accept myself." — Affirmation Kitty
Although some people might think positive affirmations are a little corny, in my coaching work, I find they can be very helpful for anyone who wants to boost confidence and set positive goals. If you’re curious (or even skeptical) about the effectiveness of affirmations, I invite you to read on to see how positive affirmations can impact your life for the better.
Affirmations Can Be Negative or Positive
If you take a moment to think about all of the places your mind goes to in a day, you’ll realize that there are both positive and negative things that you think (and speak) about. This means that affirmations can be either positive or negative. As we move through our lives, we develop thought processes that turn into belief systems. If we think of affirmations as being the same as thoughts, negative affirmations turn into negative belief systems, which can impact the way we perceive ourselves and our places in the world. For example, by repeatedly thinking, “I’m not good at writing,” you ingrain in yourself the belief that you are not (and will never be) good at writing. In doing so, you cut yourself off from opportunities because you’ve decided (through your self-talk) that you aren’t good at it, and you might lose all hope of getting better. Many people suffer from these negative thought patterns that lead them into a downward spiral and block them from reaching their goals or enjoying their lives. One way to counteract these negative beliefs is by consciously changing the way we think. A concrete and effective way of doing this is by thinking and saying positive affirmations.
How do positive affirmations work?
Positive affirmations are a powerful way to stop negative thought patterns. When you think or speak a positive affirmation, it signals your subconscious mind that you are making a change and beginning to think about yourself and your life in a different way. Just like any process of change, it takes time and practice for these affirmations to sink in and “stick” as part of your thought pattern.
The effectiveness of positive affirmations in certain situations is backed up by science. A study recently published in Psychological Science explores the neurophysiological reactions that help explain how positive affirmations help people deal with threats to self-integrity. Another study by researchers from Carnegie Mellon University (published in PLOS ONE) determined that positive affirmations protect individuals against the negative effects of stress on problem-solving abilities. In addition to scientific research, there is a large body of anecdotal evidence that people feel more optimistic about certain aspects of their lives when they use positive affirmations.
How do I increase the effectiveness of my positive affirmations?
There are several things you can do to increase the effectiveness of positive affirmations. Saying the affirmations out loud gives them weight and signals your subconscious mind to take them seriously. To increase the effectiveness of positive affirmations, make a conscious decision to think positive thoughts throughout the day. Challenging yourself to find one positive thing about each situation also helps. At the end of your day, review everything you did, your conversations with people, your reactions, etc., and think of at least one positive thing that came out of it. These positive thoughts will “prime” your mind to accept the positive affirmations, thus making them more effective. When you dedicate yourself to this process, before long, you’ll notice that you feel better and that you are able to approach life in a more positive and productive way.
What are some examples of positive affirmations to try?
The great thing about positive affirmations is that they can be tailored to your specific goals or general in nature. Here are some general affirmations you can try.
I love and accept myself.
I listen to my inner wisdom.
Wonderful opportunities are out there for me.
I surround myself with loving people.
I sleep soundly and awaken refreshed.
All my problems have a solution.
I am loved.
I am good at ______.
I am valued and respected.
If you’re interested in learning more about positive affirmations, I invite you to listen to my guided relaxation recording that focuses on positivity, Uplifting Guided Relaxation. http://www.atimeforexpression.com/recordings-1/uplifting-guided-relaxation
Kate Britt, “How to Change Your Mind and Your Life by Using Affirmations,” Tiny Buddha, http://tinybuddha.com/blog/how-to-change-your-mind-and-your-life-by-using-affirmations/
J. David Creswell, Janine M. Dutcher, William M. P. Klein, Peter R. Harris, John M. Levine, “Self-Affirmation Improves Problem-Solving under Stress,” PLOS ONE, http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0062593
Lisa Legault, “Self-Affirmation Enhances Performance, Makes Us Receptive to Our Mistakes,” Psychological Science, http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/news/releases/self-affirmation-enhances-performance-makes-us-receptive-to-our-mistakes.html