1. Positive affirmations- I have a little book where I write all my affirmations down. At the beginning of 2018, I made a list of some things that I wanted to focus on and achieve: relationships, health, mental health, car, success… for each one of these topics, I made at least 10 affirmations for each.
Each month I focused on at least one topics and I made affirmations per topic. I said the affirmations each morning and it helped me remember my stay focused. Thoughts really do become things and I was able to tick off a lot of things on my list!
Fast forwarded to the beginning of this year, having witnessed my thoughts come into fruition, I made a new list. Each morning, I read my affirmations aloud and repeat them to myself several times throughout the day. Saying positive affirmations out loud will work in your favour, trust me!
2. Keeping fit- I love working out! I love the process and accomplishment of getting through a strenuous workout. I love seeing results. It gets my day going and it also wakes me up. If I am feeling low, I go to the gym and I push myself.
There are several studies to prove that exercise does indeed contribute to the improvement of our mental health!
“Almost 50 studies have been performed outside the psychiatric clinic, examining the effects of programmed exercise on anxiety as it arises in individuals with medical complaints, among the elderly, after stress, or in the general population. In all of these applications, it is clear that regular leisure-time exercise can offer reliable reductions in anxiety while also promoting feelings of wellbeing.”(1)
In addition, “The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) says that for mild or moderate depression, structured and supervised exercise “can be an effective intervention that has a clinically significant impact on depressive symptoms”(2)
In order to get the ball rolling I would suggest a workout routine that you can change and adapt based on your fitness goals. As I am always working out, I keep in mind that I will get MY ideal body. My aim is to inspire and motivate others when they see me working out. If I can do it so can you!
3. Writing- Journaling is great! [ I will make a separate post of this] Writings your feelings down is an effective way to express yourself. I don’t journal day in and day out however, a few times a week, I make an entry in my diary and my gratitude book. In my gratitude book, I like to write down what I am grateful for.
4. Listening to music- If you listen to upbeat music such as Soca, it really does help improve your mood. For me, it takes my mind off how I am feeling. When I’m listening to SOCA it makes me think of sun, summer and the carnival. It really takes me to the islands (in my mind). It’s hard to be sad when you’re listening to carnival music. It makes you want to get up and get moving.
5. Dancing- (Storytime) When I was younger, I used to go to dance class every week. Not only did it give me something to look forward to, but I met people who loved to dance as well. Although I don’t go to dance classes anymore, there is a high possibility that you’ll catch me dancing at some point throughout the day. When I’m dancing, I usually make fun of myself which makes me laugh. Laughing at yourself is the best medicine and in all honestly, I think I’m hilarious. The studio audience in my head is having a great old time.
6. Getting more sleep- There are many studies published stating that a lack of sleep has a dramatic impact on our mental health.
“Studies using different methods and populations estimate that 65% to 90% of adult patients with major depression, and about 90% of children with this disorder, experience sleep problem”.(3)
I used to 5/6 hours of sleep if I was lucky. I struggled to get to sleep at a decent hour, so I usually went to sleep around 3am or thereafter. After a night of partying/clubbing I would go home and go straight to sleep. I would usually have a lecture in the morning not to mention that I would ensure that I go to the gym prior to going to university. In addition to that, I always woke up throughout the night, plus I’m a light sleeper so when my flatmate(s) would enter the flat I would wake up immediately. That was a recipe for disaster.
In other scientific news, the use of electronics before bedtime DOES NOT HELP!
“One of the most recent studies was published in PNAS has found evidence that this could be the case. They took 12 volunteers and put them under different conditions before going to sleep. The participants read for 4 hours before bedtime which was at 10pm for 2 weeks. For the first week half of the group used an e-reader, and the other half read from paper books. This was done for a full week. Then the scientists switched the two groups for the second week. Those who had e-readers now read paper books, and the paper readers now read from electronic devices. They noticed that melatonin – a chemical that helps regulate our sleep patterns – was reduced by 50 percent in those who read with electronic devices. These levels also suggested that circadian rhythms had been delayed about an hour and a half.
The readers of electronic devices also took about 10 minutes longer to go to sleep and also had about 10 minutes less deep sleep – or REM [Rapid eye movement sleep is a phase of sleep in mammals and birds, distinguishable by random/rapid movement of the eyes] in the night. The participants also reported feeling not as alert the morning after.”(4)
I am guilty of it. Checking Instagram before going to sleep is a habit that I am trying to break. I’m pleased to report that I have been getting better.
To get better sleep, the national institute for health and care excellence (NICE) (5) recommends that we find the underlying cause that is impacting our sleep, referring to therapies to target the cause, regular exercise and better sleep hygiene (no use of electronics before sleep, going to sleep and waking up the same time every day). Try it! For 2 weeks have a set bed time, unwind an hour before going to sleep by reading a book and/or listening to music, exercise at least 3 hours before and refrain from using electronics devices before going to sleep.
7. Meditation- Bringing this into my daily routine has really helped me. As soon as I wake up, I meditate for 5-10 minutes. I sit up on my bed, cross my legs, close my eyes and focus on my breathing. I use an array of breathing techniques however I mostly use the 7/11 method. As I breathe in I count to 7 then as I exhale I count slowly to 11.
Visualisation: I envision love going through my organs and throughout my body from my feet to my head. I think of a quiet beach, me lying in the sun and only being accompanied by the sound of the gentle waves crashing on the beach. Bliss! Just having some calm and stillness before the day gets started keeps me positive and focused on the day ahead.
8. Get rid of negative energy- This comes in the form of things and PEOPLE. If you constantly have negative, pessimistic people in your life it will start to effect you in one way or another perhaps without you even realising. I used to have people around me that always focused on the negative side of things, you know the glass is half empty. This had a detrimental effect on my confidence and self-esteem. I was constantly blaming myself for the way people treated me.
If you want to focus on growing and loving yourself and all that you are DO NOT have people around you waiting on your downfall. Thoughts become things so speak positive thoughts into existence and don’t let people distract you from your vision.
9. Make lists- Before I go to sleep every day, I make a list of things that I need to accomplish the following day. This way I keep organised and motivated to keep ticking off things as I go through the day.
10. Get help- That was a big step for me in 2017. I accepted that I need help to overcome my feelings of anxiety. Sometimes I believe that I get in my own way which I am learning to hold myself accountable for.
And with the help of my counsellor, I learned to accept the things that have happened which I don’t have control over and that I can no longer change. It also gave me lifelong homework- WORK ON YOUR MINDSET. If you keep telling yourself negative thoughts such as “I can’t do it, I’m not good enough” that is what you will attract.
If you do not have access to a counsellor perhaps it may be a clever idea to find a trusted adult i.e. someone in church, family member that you feel comfortable talking to and that you can confide in. Letting your feelings out really does make a tremendous difference. It may take some time, but you can do it!
Thanks for reading.