It’s the second week of January, and if you’ve already broken those New Year’s resolutions, you’re not alone. Research shows that only eight percent of people successfully keep them. Instead of beating yourself up and putting added pressure on yourself at a time when many suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, why not incorporate ways to improve positive thinking throughout the year? Some ways to accomplish this could include working with affirmations, setting behavioral activation goals, or keeping a journal of inspirational quotes.
Affirmations are simple, positive statements to challenge negative beliefs. Research shows that working with affirmations can lower stress and improve resiliency, optimism, self-concept and self-esteem. Affirmations usually start with “I will”, “I can”, or “I am” and conclude with what you wish to accomplish. For example, someone who is struggling to set boundaries with others, may benefit from the affirmation: “I am in charge of how I spend my time and energy.” Someone wishing to improve self-talk could say, “I will treat myself as I would a good friend.” There are many examples on line, and I would suggest finding some that speak to you. Make a list of several of them to read over three times a day.
Another way to positively motivate yourself is behavioral activation goals. This is a small list of goals (ideally three to four) that you can accomplish in a day. For someone suffering from depression, they could be as simple as: 1) Shower by 10:00 a.m. 2) Eat three healthy meals. 3) Schedule a therapy appointment. Write them down and cross them off as you accomplish them. This gives a sense of accomplishment and mastery. After basic self-care goals become a habit and part of routine, more goals can be added.
Keeping track of quotes you find inspiring can be another way to boost mood. These can be found everywhere: books, song lyrics, online. One of my favorites came from a fortune cookie! “A calm sea does not make a skilled sailor.” Another one was made for me by a friend. It is simply the word “breathe” painted in a calming blue on an index card. Collect them and write them down. When you’re having a bad day, read through your favorite quotes. It is also helpful to tape quotes and affirmations in a location you will see daily as a visual reminder.