Positive self-talk

How do you think about yourself?  Do you sometimes use phrases about yourself that actually describe mental health issues? The urge to use extreme descriptions probably comes from social media, where there’s a tendency to exaggerate, to avoid being ignored.

Maybe it is time to reflect…..

Ask yourself – would you use these terms about yourself in your mind, or in casual conversation?

I had a breakdown.”  Would a better description be that you cried for a while over something upsetting?  There could be a confusion here with the expression, “I broke down in tears”.   That’s a healthy reaction to something sad.   An actual breakdown is much more serious and in some cases it could involve hospitalisation.

I was depressed.”   Perhaps a better way to describe your feeling would be to say that you were understandably sad about something that’d got you down, and then managed to pick yourself up and carry on with normal life fairly soon?  Depression is a medical condition that lasts longer than a few hours – many people who suffer from depression do so for months or years.

I had a panic attack.”   A better way to describe this might be to say you felt stressed about a worrying situation, and wondered how you were going to deal with it?  A panic attack usually leaves someone unable to manage daily life for an extended period.

It’s hard to have a balanced view and feel you’re coping, if you’re using extreme labels for normal reactions to the things life throws at us.

I’m normally a happy, bubbly person.  Being ‘down’ just isn’t me.”   It may be better to think whether this really is the case?   Perhaps feeling upset (one of the range of normal emotions) is something you find hard to tolerate?  We all prefer being happy, but being human means feeling all sorts of different things from time to time. Now and then we all experience sadness, disappointment, anger, loneliness, grief, and other so-called ‘negative’ emotions.  How would we appreciate happiness, if we never felt anything else?

A different approach to your self-talk could be to focus on your feelings in a mindful way.   To find out more about Mindfulness, have a look at our leaflet:   http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/counselling/Mindfulness_2015.pdf

There are ‘Life Tools‘ talks on Mindfulness each term, which can help you accept your current emotion and recognise that it’ll pass – important for your wellbeing.

What is this mysterious thing called Mindfulness ?

So, you’ve heard this word ‘Mindfulness’ a zillion times now and are curious about what it actually is and whether it might be something that can help you get through the stressful moments that inevitably happen during your life at University.

being 'mindfull' in the Harris Garden

Well here are the basics :

Mindfulness has its origins in the Eastern traditions of Buddhism but refers to a secular practice of meditations and relaxation exercises. Mindfulness means quite simply being aware of what you are experiencing in the moment as opposed to the mindlessness with which we ordinarily approach the day! How many of us run from one task to the next never really concentrating on the actual moment but thinking ahead or behind of us, maybe multitasking and not really listening to each other or to our own experience of the moment. If you recognise yourself in this description then Mindfulness may help.

So how can it help me ?

People who practice mindfulness regularly, even for a short time each day notice the following benefits :

  • Less anxiety
  • Less depressed
  • Better memory and concentration and
  • Less easily upset by everyday things that go wrong
  • Better sleep patterns
  • Better problem solving skills improved immune system so fewer bugs!

mindfulness photo buildingBut I haven’t got time to practice relaxing and awareness …..

Well of course you do have a lot of things to balance whilst at University, studying, making new friends, learning new skills, looking after your own finances, eating healthily and getting used to independent living away from home. However putting a small bit of time aside each day, maybe 5 minutes, can benefit you in the longer term and help you to manage all the other things a bit easier.

So how do I find out more?  Mindfulness photo view out of window

Well there are lots of free resources on line that enable you to listen to a mindfulness meditation in your own time at home, for eg: www.franticworld.com  or www.stressreductiontapes.com  and if you just put mindfulness into a search you are bound to be able to check out other options you may prefer.

There is also a ‘Life Tools Talk’ on Wednesday 18th November at 1.00pm in Palmer Building room 103 – “ An Introduction to Mindfulness Part 2-Keeping Going”. ( Don’t worry if you didn’t attend part one, it doesn’t matter – you can still come along and find out more.)