Stress is often unavoidable. Most people deal with some stress every day. It’s normal and to be expected, and that’s why so many different stress-management techniques have been touted and researched in today’s world! One of these techniques is self-talk, which is the method of speaking to yourself. Even better, you can use self-talk to reduce stress.
Having conversations with yourself can feel awkward when you first start trying to do so, but many of these discussions are crucial to your greater wellbeing. This includes their importance to your stress levels, as these talks give you the chance to address problems in your everyday life to manage them positively.
But how can you have those conversations? What if your inner voice is exceptionally harmful, or what if you’re just not seeing results? The secret may lie in surprisingly subtle things! Here are the three best ways to use self-talk to reduce stress.
1. Step Outside Of Yourself While Using Self-Talk To Reduce Stress
People are often kinder, fairer, and less biased when viewing and talking to other people instead of themselves. Think about it – how often have you been supportive or understanding of a friend’s predicaments and behavior, and how often have you not afforded that same positive thinking to yourself?
You know yourself more than anyone else does – your weaknesses, strengths, darkest secrets, and worst moments are ones you are all privy to. That can make you biased against yourself, making it hard for you to be fair or give yourself the same compassion you’d give to a loved one.
This is why stepping outside of yourself is an integral part of having conversations with yourself to reduce stress. It allows you to view yourself as a separate individual to be less biased against yourself as if you’re talking to a friend. It sounds a little silly, but it works. Even if it takes a while to get used to. Here are some tips for stepping outside of yourself:
Referring to yourself in the second person when you talk to yourself is useful for stepping outside yourself. Studies show that this manner of self-talk is beneficial for self-confidence boosts and stress reduction. Essentially, this involves using the word “you” instead of “I.” This allows for the flow of a more organic conversation style. For example, say things like, “Why do you feel this way?”, “I know that you can do this,” or “How do you think we can solve this problem?”. These phrases bring down stress more effectively than using “I” language.
· Take Different Perceptual Positions
Perceptual positions are a kind of neurolinguistic technique that involves reflecting with different perspectives outside of your own. Research indicates it has positive effects on understanding situations with more complexity and nuance, which can help ground you in reality and away from unnecessary stress. When you’re done seeing things through your perspective when faced with a stressful situation, start shifting to other ones. If other people are involved, consider their perspectives and where they come from based on their experiences, feelings, and thoughts. Then, after that, imagine yourself as a fly on the wall or as an outsider looking in and witnessing these events unfold. You’ll gain a more uniquely well-rounded view of a situation and will likely find it less stressful now that you see it more clearly!
· Don’t Judge Yourself
Self-judgment often occurs because you’re biased against yourself. But remember, you have to step outside of yourself! You’re an interviewer or a friend, listening to support yourself. Let go of the guilt, the shame, or the other negative emotions that come with the subject of the conversation. Those feelings, for now, aren’t yours – you’re just the bystander looking in, with no knowledge of your own past regrets and mistakes!
2. Use Questioning Self-Talk To Reduce Stress
Interviewing yourself is a better way to manage stress than using positive affirmations, according to studies. The interrogative format of asking questions to yourself is a useful exercise for reducing stress because it helps you achieve the following outcomes:
- Encourages your brain to begin seeking answers automatically, taking an active role in problem-solving and self-awareness instead of a passive one.
- Allows you to develop better metacognitive abilities, which are beneficial for enhancing learning and give you the chance to put forth better stress management techniques based on your experiences.
- Helps you to better process thoughts in an unfamiliar scenario, allowing you to move past stress responses and towards problem-solving, according to studies.
- Gives you the chance to internalize the learning process of picking up new behaviors, which can teach you ways to manage stress or action-based changes that help reduce the risk of everyday stress.
- Distracts you from the stressful situations that you face.
- Lets you learn more about yourself interestingly and engagingly that may grant new insight into understanding your stress responses.
If it’s relevant, you can ask yourself questions about how to solve a problem or how well you’ll be able to manage new situations and responsibilities. But if you’re looking to reduce stress in general, you can also ask yourself any questions at all that are positive in nature or geared towards self-improvement.
- What are some of my proudest achievements?
- What are some of the most fun and happy moments I’ve had in my life?
- Which things currently keep me from my goals, and how can I work towards them?
- What are some of my best qualities, and how do they equip and benefit me?
- What are some of my weaknesses, and how can I address them, build on them, or change them?
- Which things in life make me feel satisfied or fulfilled?
- What failures have I faced, and how did I move past them and learn from them?
- Which challenges have I overcome, and how did I endure them?
- What are some of the fears I have that scare me, and are they grounded in reality? If not, how can I fight them? If yes, how can I work with them?
Of course, you can also use second-person language for these questions and combine perceptual positions with this interrogative method! However you choose to do it, these questions can reveal your inner strength and educate you on how to best move forward in your life. The more confident you feel in yourself, the less negative the effects of stress are, and the greater your positive thinking can flourish! You can write down your answers to your questions and reflect on them later if you need to.
3. Hold Yourself Accountable
Many people struggle when trying to have conversations with themselves because they need to hold themselves accountable. Unlike when speaking to a loved one that you respect or care about, talking to yourself opens the unfortunate opportunity for you to brush things off or refuse to answer yourself.
For this reason, the need to hold yourself accountable during these conversations arises. You cannot hold a conversation with yourself if you don’t reply to yourself, after all! Avoiding your interaction can lead to even more stress building in the background as you deny or repress your emotions and thoughts. Not great!
So far, you’ve been made aware of the importance of being kind to yourself and asking yourself fair and helpful questions, but there’s also an element of self-talk that must be strict and firm. Here are some things to do to hold yourself accountable when having conversations with yourself:
· Set Aside Time For Self-Talk To Reduce Stress
In today’s busy world, it’s often necessary to schedule self-improvement sessions so you can always be sure that you have time for them. This means that even having conversations with yourself must be scheduled. Think about it like a get-together with friends, except you’re spending time with yourself! That needs to go in your calendar if you want to make sure that you keep that date. This will ensure that you don’t skip out on critical stress-reducing conversations. It’ll also make sure that you don’t feel stress build up when you have time for those sessions. This time should be considered sacred and shouldn’t be canceled or moved around. It’s just as necessary as all your other appointments!
· Record Your Conversations
If you want to improve and better manage stress, you need to be able to remember where you were, see how far you’ve come, and make adjustments to your methods with reflection. The best way to ensure that you’re doing this is by recording your conversations with yourself somehow. You can do this by keeping a journal, making voice recordings of your interviews, or even taking notes of yourself as you go as if you were attending a lecture or meeting. This ensures that you’ll be able to revisit past conversations and reflect on them, guaranteeing that these stress-reducing self-talk sessions are genuinely doing what they’re supposed to and aren’t going to waste.
· Always Be Honest With Yourself
It can be hard to confront the realities of yourself when you have your self-conversations. There are aspects of yourself that you might want to deny or repress, and it’s easy to lie to yourself when you’re led by the desire to suppress everything. That’s why you must hold yourself accountable with your honesty yourself. Don’t be afraid to get honest about what you feel, what the roots of your problems are, and why certain things affect you so much. There’s no shame in addressing ugly truths to move forward in life, and without addressing them, your stress levels won’t go down.
It’s important to have conversations with yourself, no matter how difficult those conversations are. Continual self-talk of a healthy variety fosters constant self-improvement, development, and growth. It gives you an intrinsic source of feedback and accountability that can be a potent part of your everyday life.
On top of that, self-talk can help you reduce stress. These conversations boost your confidence, help you address big problems, and provide you with a method of processing stressful situations, emotions, and thoughts. So step outside of yourself, ask yourself questions, and hold yourself accountable in your self-talk. You will feel proud of your progress.