From the minute we wake up in the morning to the hour we pop back into bed, women are being overcritical about themselves, from everything from how much money they earn to what they look like.
A recent U.K. study carried out by Weight Watchers found that one in seven of the 2,000 women who took part would overly criticise themselves throughout the day, with the average woman putting herself down around eight times per day.
Even more worrying is that half of those negative thoughts popped into their heads before 9.30 a.m.
Those harming thoughts aren’t just terrible for our self-esteem, ladies, but it can also have a real impact on our physical health.
Negative thoughts can increase stress and anxiety which can lead to hormone imbalances, cause damage to the immune system and accelerate the ageing process.
Thinking negative thoughts might just seem like an emotional problem, but it can have very real physical consequences.
Psychology researcher Barbara Fredrickson from the University of North Carolina found a surprising link between thinking positively and improving the ability to search and find possibilities in our lives.
Just as a child finds joy in building a fort out of cushions, she is able to learn skills like teamwork and physical skills. The same goes for us when we think positively: Our minds open and our skills increase, which brings value to our lives.
But how can we bring joy to our lives through thought? Well, here are a few ways to make sure those pesky negative narratives don’t creep into the mind too often.
1. Practice mindfulness
When a thought pops into your head about how you didn’t go to the gym today, or how you feel while getting dressed in the morning, take a look at that thought for a moment and dissect it. Is it the truth? Or are you being too hard on yourself? If you are, let those feelings and thoughts go and think about something positive that is going on instead.
One of the best ways to clear the mind and bring some positive space into our lives is through meditation. For 10 minutes in the morning or the evening, sit in a comfortable spot and focus on your breathing. This will give you some great insight into the types of thoughts that are passing through your mind. Take a look at them for a moment and then let them go.
Take some time out to do or say something that will put a smile on someone else’s face and have a think about how it made that person feel. Pretty great, I’m sure. Now, think about how you could compliment yourself more throughout the day. It could be something as simple as acknowledging your hard work or your perseverance, or that kick-ass dinner you cooked last night. We all need a good pat on the back sometimes.
Take some time out each day to jot down what it is that you’re thinking and feeling. Start off with writing “I feel…” and list off everything you’re feeling. If you get stuck for what to write, just return to “I feel…” and go from there. Even if all you feel is stuck for what to write, write that down. Once you’re finished journaling what you feel, read over it and consider what your thought pattern and mindset is like. If it is overly negative, be mindful of that for the day to see if you can give your thoughts a positive spin.