One thing is for certain: we are our own harshest critics. As people, we are so quick to look at ourselves and criticize what we see in the mirror; it’s instantaneous. Rather than immediately thinking, “Wow, look how pretty my eyes are,” we immediately jump to “Damn, I really need to lose 5 pounds.” But here’s something to think about: you would never say “You’re fat,” “You’re ugly” or “You could really lose 5 pounds” to a stranger, so why would you say something like that to yourself? What’s even worse is that these thoughts usually begin first thing in the morning when we get up, go to the bathroom and look at ourselves in the mirror. A lot of people have morning routines that include weighing themselves on a scale where the first thing they do is set an expectation for themselves. If those expectations are not met, the mental suffering that follows could be horrible.
The initial waking moments are the most crucial, as this sets the tone for the rest of the day. If those moments include such negative feelings, thoughts and emotions towards ourselves, then we have already lost the battle. Realize it or not, the rest of the day is subconsciously centered around the fact that we didn’t like the number on the scale or we were not happy with the way our skin looked in the morning. There is not one person walking on this planet right now that has not thought negatively about themselves in one way or another. While it may affect some people to a much greater extent than others, learning to recognize when we are in a poor mindset and implementing strategies daily that will work to combat these negative feelings is something everyone should work on. This will boost our overall mood throughout the day and a create a more positive outlook on life. This is not an issue just one or two people may face, these negative thoughts affect everyone to some extent. Learning to recognize this frame of mind will take some time, but here are some strategies that may help.
- Listen to music. If you have read my blog posts about facts about me, one of the first things I love to do in the morning is put on my headphones and blast music. You may not necessarily need to blast it or dance around quite like I do, but create a playlist of your favorite songs that you know will always make you feel better no matter what. You could even have this at the ready on your bedside table so you can throw on the headphones as soon as you wake up without even getting out of bed. This will immediately boost your serotonin levels, or the happy hormones that promote positive vibes and will get you in that hype mood before finally getting up and walking into the bathroom.
- Find a good podcast. If you are not a music person, maybe this would be a nice alternative. Find a podcast you can listen to that talks about the things you love most, or one that talks specifically about bettering yourself and creating a positive mindset. As long as it is something you would enjoy listening to, it will also boost those serotonin levels and create a positive morning mindset. These are also great to listen to throughout the day to keep positive thoughts flowing through your brain.
- Try taking up yoga, meditation or some sort of class that will focus on breathing, especially if you are someone who suffers from higher levels of anxiety. There are numerous scientific studies showing the health benefits of activities that are centered on the focusing of the breath, so why can’t you be the one reaping from these benefits as well? (Don’t believe THE Ohio State graduate? Don’t be lazy and do the freaking research on your own. You’ll see.) This also will also potentially open up the opportunity to join a club or become a member of a group of like-minded individuals. You may find that a lot of the people practicing yoga or meditation started doing it for the same reasons you are now. The sense of belonging to a group of people and creating new bonds stemming from a healthy environment would have a whole range of benefits on its own. Not to mention it would make going to a gym or fitness center fun and more enjoyable if you are someone who has never gone before.
- Make a healthy breakfast. The only way that your mind can be set right is if you provide your brain with the proper nutrients it needs in the morning to prepare for the day ahead. While Eggo waffles or a bowl of cereal are both extremely delicious, those high levels of sugar with virtually no nutritional value will lead to a short spike in insulin followed by a crash. Try opting for something with higher levels of healthy proteins and fats, such as eggs with cheese, an avocado toast, or greek yogurt with berries. A breakfast full of essential nutrients will allow you to feel full and satisfied for a longer period of time without the crash from a sugar high. How can you expect an engine to run efficiently if it is not being fueled properly?
- Create a morning routine. Having a structured morning will only reap positive benefits. When your mind is set in a productive routine, there is virtually no room for the mind to wander into dark places full of negative thoughts and emotions; ensuring success for the rest of the day. This does not have to be long or include anything crazy, but getting in the habit of doing the same things in a particular order will create structure within the inner workings of the mind. It will not take long before these things become habitual, and once your mind gets into a habitual flow, it will be very easy for your mind to stay in a realm of positivity; especially if this routine includes one or more of these strategies I recommend 😉
- Set reminders in your phone. Just like those apps that go off every hour reminding you to do ten push ups or a minute of jumping jacks, set reminders on your phone to go off throughout the day so that you are reminded before you walk into work of just how smart and capable you are to excel in your current position and reach new levels of success you haven’t before.
- Confide in a loved one. For some, these inner demons are a lot meaner, more powerful and can even go as far as provoking a level of high anxiety and even depression. If you are someone who finds that these thoughts consume your brain and even lead to a depressive state, do not be afraid to tell someone you are closest to. Recognizing these feelings and talking through them with someone you care about most will help significantly. Trust me, that person will help to remind you of just how incredible and how loved you are, just for being you.
- Pray. This does not have to be a long prayer. Just take a few moments of your time when you wake up to thank the Lord for a few things you are most grateful for, rather than focus on the things you wish you had or wish could be changed about yourself. Ask Him for help during times of self doubt and for help in finding inner peace and happiness. I promise, He will answer.
Over time, negative thoughts and emotions flooding our brain affects our lives in more ways than we realize. Starting the day off with an unconfident mindset will show in your actions. It may be easy for some to hide their emotions initially, but over time this will take a toll on your system and how you feel on the inside will radiate on the outside in ways you will not realize on your own. Your posture will lack, your voice will not sound confident, and you will be less likely to smile. Taking some time now to create a routine that helps develop a positive mindset will be the best thing you ever do. The hardest part is finding what habits will work for you and actively making the time daily to do them. Once this is done, it just takes time, practice and patience. Soon, your family and friends will notice you smiling more or that you are standing up taller than usual. Your neighbors may even notice a kind of “glow” or aura about you. My advice? Don’t wait for your next anxiety attack or mental low point after a bad weigh-in to realize you need a change in habits. Start creating a healthy morning routine for yourself that includes activities that promote positive thinking. More importantly, hold yourself accountable and MAKE SURE YOU DO THEM. As I said before, it will be hard at first…but the benefits that will come from them will change your life, guaranteed.