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12.13 - December

Emotional well-being
C'mon, get happy: 3 ways to spin your self-talk

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By Arleen Fitzgerald, L.I.C.S.W.
(Click for author bios in About us)

Can an upbeat sticky note pasted on the bathroom mirror make a difference in your day?

Experts say yes. Positive messages and self-talk may boost your energy, lower stress, improve your mood and even help you achieve your goals. One trick is to catch yourself saying or thinking things that bring you down — and teach yourself how to turn them around. Here are three ways to spin your inner voice in your favor.

1. Put it in writing
Fold a sheet of paper down the middle. On one side, jot negative thoughts that come into your head. On the other side, rewrite the negative into a positive statement. For example: "I didn't accomplish much today" becomes "I worked hard and had a good laugh with Chris — what a great day!"

2. Learn new lingo
Negative thoughts often grow from words like can't, should or must. Brainstorm some new words and phrases that are positive and action-oriented, such as I can do it, I'm good at this and I've got this!

Look for ways to describe your feelings with upbeat words, such as:
  • Happy
  • Healthy
  • Peaceful
  • Loving
  • Enthusiastic
Pepper your day with these positive thoughts — even if it feels awkward at first. With practice, you may find that they squeeze out the old negative ones, helping you feel better and more confident.

3. Give yourself a pep talk
When you struggle with a problem, are you hard on yourself? Next time that happens, stop — and take a few minutes to ponder the situation. Ask yourself questions such as:
  • Have I gotten through something like this before?
  • Will it matter tomorrow? Next week? A year from now?
  • Is there something I can learn from this?
Then, give yourself the same words of encouragement you'd give a cherished friend facing a similar challenge.

Another idea: Start a journal of the positive things in your life. You can pull it out when you need a pick-me-up.

Would you like to learn more strategies for improving your outlook — and living more positively? Your doctor may be able to recommend a counselor for you to talk with.*

*Check your benefits plan to see what services may be covered.
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Quick tip

'You make me smile, kiddo!'
If you have children, you know that little ears are always listening. So, take care to point out the positive in them — and teach them how to turn downbeat thoughts into happier ones. Just as important: Watch how you talk about yourself when they're around. Nurturing your own self-esteem can teach kids to value theirs, too.

Tap into people power

Positive relationships can give us a boost. Here are a few ways to appreciate —and benefit from — these healthy connections:
  • Write about the wonderful people in your life in a gratitude journal.
  • Share good news with friends — and celebrate their accomplishments, too.
  • Give someone you love a hug.
  • Reach out to an old buddy you've lost touch with.
  • Send a note of thanks to someone who was kind to you.