Many times when we think about our moods, our emotions and our negative feelings, we think of those things in terms of our mind — this ambiguous, amorphous imaginary but omnipresent “thing” that dictates how we’ll feel on any given day, at any given moment. The mind feels sometimes like it’s a car we’re just a passenger in, a car that we can’t predict where it will drive. For a good few hours, we might be peacefully cruising down the highway taking in the sights and the next thing you know, the mind driver sees something that triggers a memory or a feeling in us that sends us careening off-road into some dark, barren wasteland. But the good news is we do have some control of the steering wheel! Heck, we have lots of control of it. And actually the very real part of the mind — the brain has a lot to do with how we feel and what we think. And the brain is malleable, it can be nurtured and changed.
A lot of emphasis has been placed on how we physically can affect our brain and mental health. There’s foods you can eat to boost your mood, quality sleep has been shown to have a very positive effect on mood and the gut-brain connection is only recently becoming more apparent. But there’s also thought activities and things you can do beyond those ideas that can lead to more positive, happier thoughts overall. And when it comes to mood, if you’re like me, any little boost is a welcomed one.
Practice Positive Self Talk
There’s actually a lot of psychological research to back the positive impact that the right kind of self talk can have on your mental health. We all know what negative self talk sounds like. It’s that nagging voice in our head, the inner dialogue that often goes to the worst-case scenario, is our harshest critic and causes us to have self-doubt and worry. But what if you could balance out…no, what if you could tip the scale in your favor to let the positive self-talk outweigh the negative. Some ways to add more positive talk into your life include:
- Being conscious of when negative self talk begins and consciously turning it to affirmative statements
- Practicing affirmations throughout the day. Two easy ones to repeat to yourself: “I am enough” and “I am loved.” Keep it simple!
- Be conscious of your feelings and respect them. It’s easy to get into the habit of dismissing feelings and turning blame inward rather than identifying the outward source of the negative feelings.
Mood Boosting Music
Another suggestion that has a lot of science to back it up is the power of mood boosting music. We all have favorite music that can put us in a good mood when “our song” comes on the radio. Another way to utilize music is to keep upbeat, brain stimulating megahertz sounds on in the background. Calming bells, chants and binaural beats can all subconsciously sooth our thought processes and may actually have the same restorative effects as meditation on our brains. There’s many videos available online that feature calming music to keep on in the background.
An area of neuroscience and psychology that is very intriguing and still gaining traction, but shows great promise is subliminal messaging and reprogramming the brain away from negative talk. The belief is that negative talk has been wired into our subconscious and that the subconscious holds great power over many of our daily thought patterns. Therefore, to affect real, lasting change, we need to retrain the subconscious to think other thoughts. This is done typically through hypnosis-like sessions that take advantage of the times when the subconscious is most receptive to learning: as we are falling into sleep, during sleep and upon just waking from sleep. Videos and recording of positive self-talk are available that can be listened to at these times.