Using mantras and affirmations in counselling
As we reach the end of our second week lock down I'm sure many if not all of us have been having many uncomfortable really weird feelings right now. The low-lying fear and anxiety that perhaps gets more intense at night. That feeling of having no control of helplessness. The disorientation, that it feels we're actually in some Jason Bourne movie, we will wake up from this. Its all been a dream …. Actually a bit of a nightmare. Some feel the physical symptoms such as tightening of the chest or the inability to sleep or concentrate.
Our Lives Disrupted
School and work closures around the world look like they might stretch on for months. Which parent has been prepped for home schooling? That alone sounds like a parents complete nightmare. As many parents try to stay calm I fear we may produce a generation who will try to move to the other side of the world as soon as they are able (and it is deemed safe).
What about those year 11’s who have spent years dreaming of leaving school? How will this effect them as they grow and mature into adults? For those of us school a distant memory, we all remember dreaming the day we could leave school right? The volatile markets and sudden job losses have added a layer of economic insecurity that wasn’t a factor in many people’s lives just a few weeks ago.
Meanwhile, the rates of CV19 are rising exponentially, creating worries about what day-to-day activities are safe - those activities we took for granted only a few weeks ago. For those at highest risk of complications or already ill, there’s the fear of getting sick, or sicker. In the worst cases, there’s the grief of losing loved ones.
How Our minds have been disrupted
Covid-19 hasn’t just disrupted how our lives work, it has changed overnight how our minds work. Our minds are now switched on to perceive everyday life …. Doing your weekly shop, picking out vegetables at a farmers market, having a home delivery, your partner coughing too near you …… these are all now a threat possibly to our lives. Things in the Western we have all become to expect. Some may say even taken for granted.
We’re constantly drawing on past experiences to make predictions about the future. There is no rest unless we were to sit isolated in a anti-bacterial scrubbed padded room. That with or flight feature of our brains is now working in overdrive - the constant threat to our lives. Then theres the fact many of the things that we have learned to expect are suddenly different. We’re trying to adjust to a new set of a rules, a new set of circumstances. A new way of life.
Our Mental Health - Will affirmations help?
Life during a pandemic has even the most resilient facing new levels of stress. Maybe we are more impatient, more cautious, more argumentative, more angry.
Mental health professionals call it adjustment disorder, or symptoms that occur in people who are having trouble coping with everyday life as a result of a major disruption or loss.
So its no surprise that for many our mental health will suffer. Our closest relationships may be stretched to the limit. And lets not forget those who live alone - the number of people living on their own went up by 16% to 7.7 million between 1997 and 2017 in the U.K. Loneliness and isolation being a real worry.
What can we do? Affirmations in counselling? Really?
In the here and now, as hard as it may sound - the one simple thing most of us can do is be grateful. And if your spirit is as bright as a crumpled, tangled kite - missing your usual way of life you can stoke your spirit by using affirmations and mantras.
Even when home schooling, shopping with caution, juggling working, the worlds economy set to crash, a sense of no control - there is still always an opportunity to connect with your truest. By repeating inspiring affirmations and mantras will encourage you to reconnect with yourself daily. It can help with anxiety and stress management.
It can take you to a quieter place - no matter if you are surrounded by chaos.
"A mantra truly is a vehicle that takes you into quieter, more peaceful levels of the mind."
~ Deepak Chopra ~
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MANTRAS & AFFIRMATIONS
A “positive affirmation” is a term often used interchangeably with mantras; however, the two have vastly different origins and applications. Positive affirmations were developed in the 1970’s by neuroscientists, incorporating a modern understanding of psychotherapy and linguistics in order to consciously rewire thought patterns towards more desired outcomes. Affirmations can be stated anytime and tend to be complete sentences addressing something we wish to have or be as if we already have it in the present moment.
Examples of positive affirmations include phrases such as “I am whole and perfect the way I am,” “I am overflowing with abundance,” or “I am radiating with love.”
Becoming Friends With Them
They can be done anywhere - out aloud, in privacy, in the woods, in the bathroom, on the loo, in the car, with the family & children or in isolation. To begin with they can sound a little weird - practising in the mirror whilst pulling funny faces and saying them in different voices breaks the ice .... I personally think making friends with your mantras and affirmations is important. so some fun with them is fine The beauty is they can be anything you want them to be ..... To help get you started if you feel a little stuck you can download my list of affirmations below.
Often in counselling sessions with clients teaching the client new strategies such as mantras and affirmations can improve a clients self-efficacy
These two affirmations "Tell Yourself A Different Story" and "Progress not perfection" were the affirmations which really helped me to move forward from grief due to the suicide of someone very close to me. They were personal to me and I still use them in my life. I am sure you will find your own affirmations & mantras .... thats the empowering thing about them!