Mental Health Month: Challenge 2 Thoughts of Gratitude

Ready for your next challenge for Mental Health Month? Great!! This week’s challenge focuses on the thoughts we have. As we go about our daily lives it can be easy to forget the positive experiences we have. Life on a day-to-day basis isn’t about winning the lottery or buying a new car or landing your dream job. Life from day-to-day is about smaller things, a smile that brightened your day, one last big hug from your child before he or she heads off to school, and getting a work assignment done and checked off your list of to-do’s.

Gratitude is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the state of being grateful; thankfulness” (from merriam-webster.com). We can be thankful for any of a number of big and small moments and my goal is to help you improve your mental health by taking notice of the wide range of positive experiences. Taking note of that which we are grateful for is associated with increased mental well-being.

It is easy to miss these small moments as we wait, pray, and/or hope for “bigger” moments to occur. So I challenge you to start taking notice of, and being thankful for, these small moments in your everyday life. As a guide, you can download this free Thoughts of Gratitude Worksheet to help you keep track of the things in your life you are thankful for. At the beginning of the day you can write down those events for the day  you are looking forward to and are thankful for (for example, a job opportunity, great weather, family time, etc.). You also have the option at the end of the day to record events that had occurred that day that were positive. For bonus points you can fill out your Thoughts of Gratitude Worksheet both day and night!!

So I challenge you to record at least once a day those things that you are grateful for in your life.

Mental Health Month: Challenge 1 Reduce Extreme Language

The words we express are a direct reflection of the thoughts that are being said in our minds. One way we can begin to change our inner negative thoughts (or, negative self-talk) is by monitoring and changing what we say out loud.

“I’m so stupid.”

“I can never do anything right.”

“Nobody likes me.”

“You are always yelling at me.”

“This is the worst day ever.”

These are examples of things we might say even though we mean something different. This pattern of behavior can become negatively impactful on one’s thoughts and mood because of the emphasis on extremes. When we say words like “never”, “always”, “nobody”, “worst”, etc. we begin to normalize the extreme and therefore lose sight of the “middle of the road.”

Let’s rework these statements to reflect what is really meant.

“I’m so stupid.” –> “I can’t believe I made this mistake.”

“I can never do anything right.” –> “I get frustrated when I make mistakes.”

“Nobody likes me.” –> “It feels like I have no one to talk to right now.”

“You are always yelling at me.” –> “It hurts my feelings when you raise your voice to me during our arguments.”

“This is the worst day ever.” –> “This has been a very difficult day for me.”

So your challenge is to get rid or your extreme language. Be mindful of the words you are using and try to say exactly what you mean. Use this Extreme Language Worksheet to record the extreme language you find yourself using. After recording the negative statement, be sure to write down next to it what you actually mean.