Who is this voice inside my head?
One of the fundamentals of human experience is thought. The frequently continuous stream of language happening in your own head. While that voice might seem innocuous it can be devastating over time the same way a river can wear away rock. In yoga we call this chitta vritti.
What is your inner voice saying? I will admit- mine gives me a lot of crap! Make it a point today to pay attention to what that voice is saying. What is the content, quality, and consistency?
“But it was in this moment, lying in bed late at night, that I first realized that the voice in my head — the running commentary that had dominated my field of consciousness since I could remember — was kind of an asshole.” — Dan Harris
Without even noticing it often that voice is giving us constant negative feedback and criticism. This can be especially pronounced with people who suffer from anxiety or depression. Is your own head a negative feedback loop or echo chamber? Here are a few ways to stop it:
1.) Physical exercise! The benefits of this practice are numerous! Cardio can not only help boost your natural "happy' chemicals but it can also be a break from whatever it is that is stressing you out. Double benefits if you are in nature. Try going for a brisk walk near trees and practice noticing your surroundings- the quality of the light, the sound of the wind through the leaves, the smell, etc.
2.) Along the same vein: forest bathing. There truly is something about being in nature that is rejuvenating.
3.) Adopt a dog! Dogs always live in the moment and are great at offering love and support. Additionally, taking your dogs for walks can be combined with the suggestions above. Make sure to get a dog that matches your activity level- if you tend to be a couch potato don't get a Husky because they need miles and miles of exercise everyday.
4.) Practice some asana. One of the key features of yoga is the union of the mind and body through the physical postures. By focussing the voice in your head to your breath, your posture, your dristi, your mudras, bondas, etc there is no room left for negative self-talk. Make sure that you go to a qualified yoga teacher though, and not just some franchise down the street that focuses on the physical gains.
5.) Meditation! As I mentioned in the last post practicing meditation & mindfulness is a great way to change your thoughts, brain structure, and life. Bringing mindfulness and awareness of your present presence is key to all of these suggestions. Here is a guided meditation that is less than 5 minutes and we all have time for that.
6.) Check your drinking- and I'm not talking about water. While popular culture is rife with "drink responsibly" and "studies" about what amount of which alcohol is "good for you" the reality is it alcohol is much higher risk than reward. If you already struggle with mental illness it is even more problematic. Perhaps you identify as a "social drinker"? Try keeping a journal for a few weeks documenting your alcohol consumption and feelings. I, myself, in the past found that my daily glass of wine was an emotional crutch for a unhealthy work situation. (DISCLAIMER: if you are seriously dependent on alcohol do not go "cold turkey" but check with medical professionals since the withdrawal can be fatal).
Chances are we all "self medicate" but you have a choice as to what you are doing it with: wine or exercise? Choose healthy habits to replace the unhealthy ones. Every time you crave a cigarette go for a quick jog/walk around the block. That voice might tell you that you "need" something but just take a breath and a moment to check that "need". When that innervoice is being an asshole notice that it is being an asshole and try not to take it personally.
That voice isn't YOU. Feel free to tell it to fuck off <3
Kelsey enjoys researching and discussing. These posts are based on her research and are open for discussion! Enjoy! (For the record the credit for the title goes to one of Kelsey's favorite authors: Douglas Adams).