Negative Self-Talk: A Depression Symptom You Can Overcome with Practice

John is a successful lawyer who appears to have everything going for him. He’s married with two children, a great house, and a well-paying job. However, John has always had in the back of his head thoughts that he is not good enough. Despite all of his success, John still thinks of himself as a failure. This negative self-talk is not just annoying, it can be crippling, and it effects John and the people around him. However, with practice, John’s negative self-talk can be overcome. So can yours.

Think Positive Thoughts

It might seem cliché, but thinking positively can help with overcoming negative self-talk. Instead of seeing the glass as half-empty, try to look at it as half-full. Some ways to think positively include:

  • Daily reminders of your strengths.
  • Looking back on times when you were successful, such as winning an award.
  • Surrounding yourself with people who have positive outlooks in life.
  • Remind yourself that you can get this done.

Diet and Exercise

There are many correlations between diet and exercise and emotional health. Eating healthy foods means that your body is getting the nutrients and energy it needs. Exercise helps to release endorphins which can contribute to mood. In addition:

  • Cooking a meal with others can help with one’s mood.
  • Setting and accomplishing benchmarks for working out can be reminders when you think you can’t make a goal.

Laugh a Little

One of the recommendations from the Mayo Clinic to combat negative self-talk is humor. Try to see the humor in everyday situations, even the ones that can be frustrating. Also, try to surround yourself with people who enjoy a good laugh, whether it’s fun-loving friends, going to see a comedy routine, or watching a favorite movie or TV show.

Practice Meditation

Meditation can be a powerful tool for combating negative self-talk. Including:

  • Focusing on something else: Mediation is a practice wherein you focus on your breathing. You can allow whatever thoughts happen to come into your head, but you don’t dwell on them.
  • Slowing down your thoughts: If you are having racing thoughts that lead to negative conclusions, the intentional breathing of meditation can help slow things down.
  • There is no failure: Meditation isn’t something you have to be “successful” at. People spend years of their lives meditating and developing a practice. Just trying mediation is a success, and there is no defined outcome. There is no win or lose.
  • Listening to your thoughts: Actually taking the time to listen closely and intentionally to your negative thoughts can be difficult, but it can help with discovering why you feel this way.

Spend Time with Your Pet

Your pet, such as the family dog, can be a great way to overcome negative self-talk. Your dog can provide unconditional love and acceptance, and all it wants back is to be pet, walked, or given a treat. Seeing how your pet interacts with you is a reminder that you are positive, capable, and needed. This is because your pet needs you in order to survive.

Volunteering for Others

Volunteering is another way to “get out of your head” and do something for others. They will appreciate your work, and it’s nice to feel wanted and needed. Consider these ideas for volunteering:

  • A local homeless shelter, food bank, or kitchen.
  • Working with Habitat for Humanity.
  • Building trails or doing conservation work.
  • Walking dogs or caring for animals through the Humane Society.
  • Doing something that helps harness your talents, skills, or training.

Overcoming negative self-talk won’t come easily. However, with time, practice, and using different tools, you can beat this symptom of depression and keep the negative self-talk at bay.

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