As we enter the new year we enter a great time to start over and implement some new changes in our lives. There is a natural feeling of starting over every time we reach a new year, for whatever reason it just feels like new possibilities are on the horizon once we reach January 1st each year. So why not take advantage of that feeling and put in some action?
Where to begin though? When I sit back and reflect on what I want to change I can get very overwhelmed with the long list my mind will throw at me, it’s so much that I just end up changing nothing! I realized this year there is one thing I can change that is the root of most of my problems, I can change my mindset and how I talk to myself when my loud thinking mind is constantly telling me things.
Our minds are the most powerful things in the world, what have you thought about the past hour? Probably about 45 different things? Our minds are always on and if you’re anything like me a lot of it is negative. Give me a morning with just my thoughts and it can completely ruin the rest of my day.
A few months ago I was experimenting with ways to combat this overwhelming and loud negative thinking, I came to a pretty simple solution.
Something like positive affirmations always sounded corny and very self-help bookish to me. Surely telling myself I love myself wouldn’t do anything, right?
I started in the morning getting quiet and simply telling myself positive things.
“You’re doing great”
“I love my life”
“I am so grateful for my family”
“Today is going to be great”
Very simple, concise stuff. I found that when I did it, I felt as if I were tangibly battling the negative space that usually occupies my mind. It’s refreshing to do, you may have even felt good just reading my examples out loud. Find phrases that fit you specifically, say a few a day, I find the morning to be the perfect time to throw some compliments at yourself.
Create A Morning Practice
Logically, doing things in the morning makes sense because you want to set up your day for success. I used to wake up just in time to roll out of the bed, shower and head to work. When I would do that I would walk out of my house with something I like to call ‘garbage head’. My head is filled with all of this fear and anxiety about my day and what I have to accomplish, accompanied by the usual negative mindset and it’s an awful way to start the day.
I started getting up a couple of hours before work now, that’s not necessary but it’s what I have chosen to do. I’ll go for a walk for at least a mile and then do some other practices to truly give myself a great launching pad into the day.
My favorite has been meditation. I was always intimidated by meditation because I thought it could only be done one way and any other way would be counter-productive. I have discovered through research that meditation is whatever works for you. You simply want to get still and quiet your mind down.
Every morning before I head to work I sit at my dining room table, put on some calm music while closing my eyes and just try my best to be still and quiet. Does my mind still race? Of course. You really get to see how powerful your mind is when you are actively trying to silence it but still can’t. It’s truly fascinating.
I simply focus on my breath to quiet my mind down and just see where the meditation takes me. Sometimes it brings me to a place of gratitude where I can reflect on my life and how much I appreciate certain aspects of it. Other times I will be cheering myself on and telling myself that I believe in me. It can go many directions but it is always a positive one.
Find Your Practice
I am simply laying out what I have done the past several months that has resulted in having many more positive days. We all are unique in our own way, find what works for you when trying to create a positive space for you to walk in throughout your day. Trial and error until you naturally form your own ritual in the morning.
The best part about doing these types of positive reinforcements are that they don’t take up a lot of time and are completely free. The mind can be our worst enemy because of the power it withholds, thankfully with some awareness we can channel that power to become something extraordinarily positive with some simple actions.
What positive daily rituals work for you?
Cait Fields is an outreach coordinator at Stout Street Foundation, she has been in recovery from drugs and alcohol for 5 years and is a major advocate for mental health awareness.
Image courtesy of Samantha Gades.