THE SECRET SUPER POWER OF TALKING TO YOURSELF
Living alone for the first time, I’ve discovered something surprising: I’m a chatterbox. All day, every day, I talk my own ear off. I do it to motivate myself (come on, let’s finish this!), to calm myself down (just breathe), and sometimes just to pat myself on the back (you crushed that workout!). I do it so often, in fact, that I grew a bit concerned. “Shayla,” I wondered aloud to myself, “are you weird?”
Turns out, I’m not that weird at all—in fact, talking to yourself, in your head or out loud, is extremely common, says Ariana Orvell, a social psychologist at Bryn Mawr College. There’s even a name for it: “self-talk.” According to Orvell, “self-talk” differs from plain ol’ thinking in that it’s self-directed, using either the second- or third-person point of view.
Thinking: “I’ve got this.”
Self-talk: “Come on [insert your own name], you’ve got this.”
Not only is self-talk normal, it’s also effective. Studies show that it creates a psychological distance that can help regulate your emotions, ease social anxiety and alleviate public speaking fears, and help to reframe or reappraise negative situations. “When people take an outsider’s perspective to talk to themselves, it can powerfully alter the nature of their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors—helping [them] act in line with their goals,” Orvell says.
Of course, tone matters, too. For the self-critical among us, speaking kindly to oneself might feel as natural as eating soup with a fork, but researchers say it’s key.
Sports psychologists have found that athletes who speak kindly to themselves improve their physical performance. Self-talk that empowers you is even more effective: Rather than saying “What are you doing?” switch it to “You can do this!” If your goal is NOT to do something, saying “You don’t scroll TikTok for hours” is better than “You can’t doom scroll” (because using don’t versus can’t imbues the speaker with a sense of agency and control).
So go ahead, give yourself that pep talk in the mirror! You just might find you have some helpful things to say.
There’s so much stuff out there. So we asked Naj Austin to tell us what deserves our time/dollars/brain space. A serial entrepreneur who works at the intersection of technology, well-being, and community, Austin founded Ethel’s Club, a wellness platform for people of color. She’s currently the CEO and founder of the audio social app Somewhere Good. Check out her picks below.
The Qi whole flower teas are not only delicious and aesthetically pleasing, but making a cup literally forces me to slow down—the flower even blooms while it steeps!
The Grind Culture Detox by Heather Archer has helped me bring slowness and aspects of wellness into our work culture.
Annika Hansteen-Izora’s “Communal Dreaming 1” print is a helpful visual reminder that my personal wellness is so intertwined with my community’s.
Taking care of my plants feels like the only time I’m not looking at a screen! It also gives me a chance to appreciate and intentionally take care of my home every morning. I have learned so with the help of resources like @plantkween and Planthood.
WHEN IT COMES TO IMPROVING YOUR MENTAL HEALTH, EXPERTS SAY “WING IT”
According to several recent studies, birds are good for your brain. Birdsong, especially, has been shown to help decrease stress and have a restorative effect. Ready to take flight, but not sure where to start? Laura Erickson, host of the For the Birds podcast and author of 100 Plants to Feed the Birds, recommends these sites for all your bird-learning needs:
All About Birds
Your first stop. It offers recommendations on everything from birdhouses to binoculars, guides to popular species you can identify using its companion app, and answers to burning questions like, “Why don’t birds get cold feet?”
If you want feathered friends, you’re going to need to know what to serve them when they come over for a meal. This site provides a thorough guide to seeds and feeders.
Native Plant Finder
Once you know the bird species local to your area, you can entice them with their favorite plants. Just don’t upset the native ecosystem in the process. Consult this site for info.
Celebrate Urban Birds
No backyard? Not a problem. This site offers bird-watching tips for city dwellers.
Okay, this last one is from us. It’s equal parts educational and hilarious. (And yes, we are on BirdTok.)
➚ Are women getting angrier?
➚ Who gets to have a good night's rest?
The link between poor sleep, class, and social injustice.
➚ The future looks bright (if sticky)
Scientists have come up with a new concept called “cellular glue” that can heal wounds, regenerate nerve damage, and repair vital organs.
➚ Well, this is ribbiting
There’s a podcast that spotlights a different frog species every week.
See you in two weeks! 👋
Prism Postcards takes the cringe out of wellness. It’s smart, inclusive, and funny. Sign up and get it delivered to your inbox every other week.