Last week I went to a yoga class for the first time in almost a month. While I’ve done a few home practices (mainly deeper, longer stretches), being in a studio was a literal breath of fresh air.
Toward the end of class we held some restorative poses before savasana. The instructor started talking about relaxing our minds and letting go of our worries. Then she said something that hit me hard.
“We all know that eating dozens of candy bars is bad for our health. But our mindset, our thoughts and the way we speak to ourselves have the power to do just as much physical damage. If we aren’t careful, our thoughts can become toxic. Thoughts and words can be our biggest healers or our worst enemies.”
Sometimes the universe can tell you things in an unconventional way.
It’s no secret that the last few months have been a rollercoaster for me. While there have been good things, the bulk of my time (and effort) has been dedicated to finding my way post-grad and addressing health issues. Both are processes that aren’t linear. Both have been taxing…physically, mentally and emotionally. There have been low moments when staying optimistic was/is a challenge and many days when I doubted myself and my worth. Tough but true talk.
Toxicity can manifest in different ways. While I’ve gotten very good at managing and eliminating the physical toxins in my life, dietary and otherwise, it’s only recently that I’ve tapped into the intangible. The mind-body connection is REAL! However, implementing positive self-talk and care takes effort…you can’t just say it, you have to do it.
While my situation might be very specific at the moment, the idea of toxic thoughts isn’t unique to me or this time in my life. No matter what you’re going through, when you get trapped in a cycle of negativity or comparison, other areas of your life suffer. Side note: it’s beyond my realm of knowledge and writing, but I know it’s important to recognize the difference between toxic thoughts and depression. Not the same.
Again, I’m no expert, but I’ve learned that self-care goes WAY beyond the occasional massage and afternoon nap.
While that stuff is nice (and necessary) the truly important aspects of self-care happen daily and often internally. It’s the small things we do, think and say. The candy bar equation was sobering for me. To think I’m doing so much physical work to heal my gut and then have my silly little mind do the damage? Not cool.
Replacing the bad with the good is one thing, but it’s also important to acknowledge why the bad was there in the first place.
Whether you’re in a rough patch or not, we have the power to treat ourselves more lovingly. Like many processes, finding what works is personal (sorry, no concrete lists here). For me, I know that literally repeating affirmations makes a difference, as strange as it sounds.
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Not every minute is filled with good or constructive thoughts because, frankly, I’m an emotional human of late. Yet, like one of those cliché statements that I love to hate, I know the tough times won’t last. My mindset and the way I’m learning to approach a situation is what will hopefully stick around.
As someone who has always been wound so tight (seriously, all the way down to my tight hips), letting go and approaching my health from a holistic view is a new world. A world that sounds kind of hokey on paper but is starting to make a lot of sense to me.
Susie @ Suzlyfe says
I was actually talking about this with Cassie yesterday–about being in situations where we start to believe the discouraging, defeatist thoughts that are in our head. I just read Katie (Talk Less, Say More) ‘s post for today and at the end there is a quote from Simone Biles that said I’m not the next ____, I’m the first Simone Biles. I LOVED THAT. Remember that you are the first of you, and write your own story!
Susie @ Suzlyfe recently posted…Past, Present, Future : A Quick Tribute
I saw that quote too! Loved it. This whole year of mine is a chapter of a bigger story.
ACKTIVE LIFE says
Stay positive, stay strong, talk it out, and keep doing what you are doing! AWESOME post girl! XOXO
ACKTIVE LIFE recently posted…Currently This August…
Thank you so much, Katie <3
Marina @ A Dancer's Live-It says
This is such an important post. It’s amazing how the mind can be more powerful than we think sometimes. I know I’ve struggled with toxic thoughts before, especially when I was around certain people. I then had to make a choice and remove myself from those people in my life who were spreading the toxicity. I’d rather lose a friendship than lose my mind!
Marina @ A Dancer’s Live-It recently posted…Things That Boston Taught Me
I’m glad you were able to recognize and make the change, Marina! I think our environment plays a big role in our overall wellness.
Brie @ Lean, Clean, & Brie says
Love this and it is so true. So often we try to fix things, like our diet or exercise, but still let those toxic thoughts creep in that really do a lot more harm to us. For me trying to rid myself of those toxic thoughts is a constant work in progress, but taking the time to work on it is better than nothing and does my body a whole lot of good. <3
Brie @ Lean, Clean, & Brie recently posted…Mint Chocolate Chip Chia Pudding
It really is a constant work in progress! I think that’s the case for everyone, whether we admit it or not.
This was so well written, very introspective, and beyond beyond beyond important for me to hear at this time in my life. Eliminating toxicity from my relationships has been something I’ve been struggling with lately, but this is a good reminder that I can always start inside my own head.
Danielle @ afloat on a full sea
I’m so glad you’ve been able to recognize the toxicity in your life too. In this together :)
Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine says
I think out thoughts ARE the biggest thing we need to work on and be conscious of. Our minds and thoughts are the most powerful things we have. The toxic thoughts and mindsets we get stuck harping on are what hold us back and if you don’t find a way to let go of all that toxicity, yea, it poisons us and only we have the higher power to start working on that even though it can be so hard!
Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine recently posted…Gluten-Free S’mores Pancakes
That’s exactly it! It’s easier said than done, but reeling in the thoughts is so important for overall wellness.
Sara @ Oats & Rows says
What you said about finding what works is SO TRUE- it is so personal and one way does not work for everyone. Once you get through the trial and error and put yourself first, you will find more and more peace. Great post, Emily!
Sara @ Oats & Rows recently posted…Body Shaming and 3 Tips to Not Let It Bring You Down
Thank you, Sara! The trial and error phase is real, but I think it’s paying off.
Sarah @pickyrunner says
Self-care is something I’ve never been very good at but I’ve worked at it. It seems selfish at times but occasionally I just need to do things for myself. Maybe that’s buying myself frozen hot chocolate on the weekends even though it’s not exactly budget friendly, or maybe it’s something as simple as sitting by the pool. Negative thoughts are so toxic and I’m guilty of it myself. I admire how seriously you take self-care though. You WILL get through this rollercoaster and find that job that clicks. It’s hard when it’s something you never thought you’d struggle with after doing everything “right” for so long. It’s a huge blow to the self-confidence so reminding ourselves that we are smart, successful, etc. is important to push out those negative feelings. you’ve got this <3
Sarah @pickyrunner recently posted…New England Summers
I feel like I’ve been ultra-selfish lately when it comes to self-care but it’s keeping me (mostly) sane. This whole time/experience is something I never thought I’d struggle with, but I know that it will all come together <3
Amanda @ ExploringLifeAndThings says
I love this. I was actually listening to a podcast this morning about how much our thoughts really do affect so much. It’s crazy but so interesting and true.
Amanda @ ExploringLifeAndThings recently posted…A good July
I find it really interesting too! One of those approaches to health that is often overlooked I think.
You are so right. There is no point being physically healthy but mentally a mess. I have recently learnt just how much our minds can affect our physical health because I made myself feel incredibly sick with worry the other day.
Megan recently posted…Relationship advice: creating friendships that last
Exactly! I’m sorry you had that experience but hopefully we can both harness the power of our mindset for good things <3
such an important topic, and one that many people shy away from. We are human, we have these thoughts from time to time. I think it is great you recognize them. Now just working how to cope with them and change them is the next step!! Loved this <3
Alyssa recently posted…Take Care of your Temple Tuesday #2
Thank you, Alyssa! One of those deeper posts that is hard to share so I’m glad people have been able to connect to it.
This is so true, and I think I need to be aware of where those thoughts come from. We were listening to a sermon on Ephesians 6 and spiritual warfare, and the last few days I’ve really been feeling like I’ve been fighting an intense battle, and I think I was so humbled by the fact that I was not in the Word enough and equipped for all these toxic thoughts and lies that the devil puts into my head. But through Christ, I can have the victory!
Thank you for reminding me just how important it is to think in the right way. I struggle with my thoughts a lot, and this was such a good reminder.
Thank you for sharing that, Emily! I think we all can fall into a negative mindset at times, so you aren’t alone.
heather @Lunging Through Life says
How true is this! We are so focused on physical things that we often forget the emotional underlying aspects. Sometimes we just keep supressing the feelings so we don’t deal with them or enough so we forget they are there, and our thoughts have total control on our behavior and how we feel!
heather @Lunging Through Life recently posted…My Absence From Group Fitness + Need Your Help!
Yes! I have been so focused on the physical side (which is very important too), but the mental is on par.
Love this – wonderfully written and an important reminder. Self care in this form is constant and can be exhausting, but speaking and thinking kind words has such an impact on our lives and wellbeing. I’m glad you spoke up about it!
Abigail recently posted…habits
Hi Abigail, thank you for your comment! I really used to think self-care was just for the body, but the mental aspect is so important.
Claire @ My Pink & Green Life says
Stress and positivity really do play such big roles in our physical health! I know that my IBS flareups often happen when I’m really stressed out about an exam or a paper at school. Take care, Emily–the rough times will pass! <3
Claire @ My Pink & Green Life recently posted…Learning How to Do Nothing
Stress is the silent killer! So scary to think of the power it has if we let it take over.
Bethany @ Accidental Intentions says
YES. I think this is enormously true – and also as enormously difficult as saying no to candy bars when you really want them! Your mindset (and thoughts) affect every aspect of your life, and it’s so important to recognize that and do what works best for you to keep them at bay.
Bethany @ Accidental Intentions recently posted…Chicago Marathon Training Week 10
It influences everything! Our demeanor, how we present ourselves in public, how we feel physically, etc. Really difficult to implement, especially during a rough patch.
Ellen @ My Uncommon Everyday says
Wow. This rings so true – I physically feel so much worse when I’m in a bad mental place – but it’s so hard to actually do. Since I spend so much time focusing on the physical things I can do to improve my health, it’s a little embarrassing how little time I spend working on my mindset. Thanks for the reminder.
Keep doing your thing and taking care of yourself, friend. Everything will click in time ❤️
Ellen @ My Uncommon Everyday recently posted…Paleo Zucchini Bread Pancakes
It really is hard to do! It takes a conscious effort for me, at least right now. Thank you for your sweet words <3
Allie @ Miss Allie's Kitchen says
This is so great and it was a needed read. I’ve been really struggling lately with some body image and issues that I’ve never really dealt with and i actually started writing down some thoughts yesterday into a post. Totally nervous to share something like that. You’re absolutely right. We wouldn’t fill our bodies with sugary candy, so why do we fill them with nasty thoughts when we want to feel better.
Allie, thank you for your comment and I’m glad you can relate. Writing is incredibly therapeutic, whether you choose to publish or not <3
Great post-I think getting rid of negativity and toxic thoughts is just a work in progress for me.
Lauren recently posted…On Travelling Solo
Oh yes, me too. No question.
Sarah Grace Spann says
Wow yes to this all! I believe SO much in the power of the mind and the thoughts you think. I go so into depth with that all in my book because it played a huge role in my own life, first negatively and then positively :)
It’s crazy the effect our thoughts can have on our life, physically and mentally.
P.S. I’ve been meaning to reach out to you because I found out we have a mutual friend :)
I think one of the most important things we can do for ourselves is just NOTICE when we start thinking negative thoughts about ourselves. Realising that thoughts like “Ugh, I’m fat” even *are* negative thoughts is the first step towards removing such harmful perceptions and treating ourselves with the love and respect we deserve.
Nicola recently posted…Make the Most of a TINY Freezer
You’re so right! If we don’t even recognize and decipher the difference between these thoughts then we can’t work to heal.
Miss Polkadot says
First off: big hug to you! While my experiences are – obviously – different from yours I was/am in a similar place and can relate to the struggles. Navigating post-grad or -school life is SO hard. In our day and age [yes, I’m aware I sound like the older folks here] with its inconsistency [i.e. not staying in one job or place for long, loosing friends, making new ones, …] it’s probably even more strenuous – mentally and physically. When things don’t go as planned it’s so difficult to not get down on and blame ourselves or stop the negative thoughts from flowing in. I wish I could offer a magical solution but I think it’s about consciously making an effort to see the good, remind ourselves of what we have succeeded in already and surround ourselves with positive and encouraging people.
Miss Polkadot recently posted…Week in review: Filling the happiness batteries.
Thank you so much for your comment <3 This post-grad time is confusing and challenging in ways I never imagined before. I guess I had to experience it to really understand. I love what you said about reminding yourself of previous success. I need to do more of that.