Stop Negative Self-Talk: How to Reduce Anxiety With Positive Thinking
Spring is just around the corner. The warmer weather may have you thinking about positive change, so take the change of season as an opportunity to do a spring cleaning, not only of your home but also your mind. Start by changing up your negative thoughts and inner monologue (otherwise known as your “self-talk”). The more positive your thoughts are, the less stress and anxiety you’ll feel, coupled with a host of other health benefits.
What Is Positive Thinking?
Positive thinking is all about having an optimistic outlook. It means focusing on the positive and approaching anything negative with a productive attitude. Positive thinking is not ignoring the bad things in life, but instead tackling them head-on.
How to Recognize Negative Thoughts
Everyone engages in self-talk. Self-talk is the stream of thoughts going through your head throughout the day that you don’t necessarily say out loud. Self-talk can be positive, negative, or neutral. It may be based on logic and reality or on misperceptions and emotions.
The first step towards changing negative thoughts and self-talk is recognizing them. This takes practice, but isn’t too difficult. You simply need to become aware of your regular thoughts as they arise. Pay attention to how you talk to yourself and consider whether these thoughts are based on facts, or are negative responses derived from emotion. Try to notice your thoughts through a curious lens and without judgement.
For example, you make a mistake at work that delays the completion of a project. If your immediate thought is, “I’m such a failure, and I’m terrible at this job,” you’re engaging in negative, emotion-based self-talk. A more positive and productive thought might be, “I could have managed my time better on this project or followed instructions more closely.” In the latter example, you are not denying the reality of your mistake, but you aren’t being overly critical either. You are focusing on facts, which will help encourage productivity and problem solving .
How Positive Thinking Improves Health
The above example shows how damaging negative thinking can be. How likely are you to make improvements in your work if you speak to yourself hyper-critically? Positive self-talk can be much more motivating and actually improve your mental and physical health in several ways, such as:
- Reducing stress and anxiety
- Reducing depression
- Increasing energy and focus
- Improving sleep
- Boosting immunity
- Improving overall life satisfaction
- Improving cardiovascular health
- Increasing life span
- Providing better skills for difficult times
Changing Negative Self-Talk
Old habits die hard, but with persistence and practice, you can change the negative voice in your head and reap the benefits of positive thinking. Take these steps to make positive changes:
- Be aware. Start listening to that inner voice, even when it’s tough;
- Name the voice. It helps to consider your inner critic as another person. Give it a name, like Negative Nellie, so you can separate your negative thoughts from productive ones;
- Challenge your thoughts. When you have a negative thought, challenge it. Change the perspective and consider what others would say to you in any given situation;
- Reframe your thoughts. Once you’ve challenged the negative thought, reframe it. Instead of saying, “I can’t do this; it’s too hard,” say, “I’ll break this down into smaller, easier tasks to get it done.” Your inner voice can make all the difference!
Making the change from negative to positive self-talk is not easy. It takes time and practice. Try adding in some daily mindfulness meditations with BetterSleep. These will help you become more self-aware and put you in the right frame of mind for shifting your attitude.
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