During times of immense stress and uncertainty, how are you treating yourself? Are you full of kindness or is your mindset focused on negativity towards yourself?

Recently, I have noticed that the way that I speak to myself when I become stressed or worried has been very unhelpful. I get frustrated with myself when I feel as if I cannot complete a project, or when I feel as if I cannot focus. I tell myself how irresponsible or unproductive I am.

When I woke up one morning recently, my first thoughts were about how many different tasks I needed to complete for the day. I did not even take the time to stretch, to just lay awake for a moment or take note of how grateful I am for simply waking up safe in my home, while so many others do not have that luxury. Again, my negative self-talk was beginning to start it’s ugly routine for the day. But that morning, I felt done with that typical routine and pattern. Instead, I decided to speak out to those thoughts and say,  “Enough!”. I chose to lie in bed for a few moments, and begun my mindfulness practice in the morning rather than the evening. I had skipped practicing mindfulness the last couple of weeks, as I felt I could not get myself to sit down with my thoughts, as I was so stressed. However, encouraging myself to simply lie down, relax, and practice mindfulness, was extremely helpful to shifting my mindset that day. After practicing gratitude and kindness, I immediately felt less stressed and uncertain about the day. When we feel stressed or frustrated, we can lose sight of what we have that helps us throughout the day. Often times, I notice that when I am so frustrated with wanting to be somewhere further along than I already am, I forget about just how far I have come. Take this as a challenge to look inward, when you notice yourself engaging in negative self-talk, take a look at where those words are coming from. One of my favorite perspective taking activities is reflecting upon where I am now, versus where I wished I was when I was younger. Right now, as a graduate student of clinical psychology, studying Marriage and Family therapy, I am exactly where I wished to be eight years ago. My freshman year of high school, I only dreamed of being in this position. Yet, here I am today. I got here despite the negative self-talk along the way, I made it. Think about where you are now, how long have you wished to be just where you are? Would the “you” right now, engage in the same negative self-talk with your younger self? I highly doubt it.

Right now, we are in the midst of a pandemic. Treat and talk to your “pandemic self” as you would to a younger version of yourself. Give yourself kindness during this time. Focus on what you actually need to do. Can that project wait another 5 minutes, just so you can focus on gratitude practice or mindfulness? Give it a try, and see how different you will feel. Never neglect your needs for that of completing projects. You deserve more than that.