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The use of mantras — or coping statements — dates back thousands of years to ancient India, where sacred syllables or phrases were repeated to aid in meditation and spiritual enlightenment. And they’re something that we can still all easily use today.
When we’re going through a difficult time, it can be helpful to have a mantra to say to ourselves to keep us calm, replace untrue or negative thoughts, or to reassure ourselves.
What’s even more helpful is having a mantra that is unique to you.
So how do you go about developing it? Here are four tips I like to give my clients:
1. Be specific.
Imagine you are speaking directly to the experience, thoughts or emotions you are struggling with. Is it anxiety that is weighing on you? Anger? Self-doubt? Use language to specifically acknowledge and address what is bothering you.
2. Be brief.
Remember that you’re using the mantra when you’re going through a hard time, so you want it to be short, accessible and memorable. As you’re getting started, you might try writing it down in a journal or on your phone to remind yourself.
3. Be reassuring … and realistic.
Include language that reassures and grounds you while remaining truthful. It can be helpful to acknowledge the difficulty you’re experiencing while simultaneously holding hope or balance, rather than denying the discomfort or distress.
4. Be you.
It’s important to use language that resonates with and sounds authentic to you. It can be helpful to think about situations in which you’ve supported someone else: What did you say to them? Or maybe someone has helped you in the past and their words have stayed with you: How did they phrase their support?
Some examples of mantras to give you an idea are things like:
“This is uncomfortable, but I can handle it”
“These are just thoughts, not reality”
“This too shall pass”
Next time you find yourself in a stressful situation or feel anxiety coming up, take a deep breath, repeat your personal mantra quietly to yourself and notice how you feel.
If you're interested in learning more helpful techniques to support your mental health, therapy can be a great resource. Schedule a call with a care advisor to learn more or book a matching consult appointment today.
If you or someone you know is seeking mental health care, you can reach out to our Care Coordination team at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (415) 202-5159.
If you or someone you know is experiencing an emergency or crisis and needs immediate help, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. Additional resources can be found here.