Automatic Negative Thoughts—or ANTs. We all fall victim to negative thinking from time to time. For example, have you ever been in Pilates class when suddenly the instructor says, “Let’s hold a one-minute plank!” Suddenly, all those ANTs start running around in your head. Maybe you start telling yourself that you’re too out of shape, that a minute is impossibly long, that it’s going to hurt, etc. Those negative thoughts can get so strong that you actually talk yourself out of doing a great plank!
My friends Dr. Daniel and Tana Amen first introduced me to the concept of ANTs. Dr. Amen explains that when our brain has a negative thought, it actually releases chemicals that make us feel worry, doubt, doom and despair. To combat this, you have to learn to turn those negative thoughts around and focus on positive thoughts, so your brain releases feelings of positivity instead! Negative thoughts can also inhibit memory, so you may be tricked into thinking, “Why am I even doing this stupid plank!?” instead of remembering all the great, positive health benefits of this awesome exercise.
Learning to acknowledge and stop negative thoughts, and then changing your inner-voice to, “I can totally do this!” will keep you going strong your entire workout.
Here are some other tips to help you build up a more positive mindset to take on the world:
- Practice positive affirmations. My favorites are: “I can,” “I will,” “It can be done,” “I will succeed!”
- Hang around other positive people. Just like it’s easier (and more fun) to stick to a workout routine or eating healthy when you do it with friends, the same goes for thinking and living positively! Surround yourself with positive people and energy as much as possible, and you’ll be more likely to follow in their light!
- Read and watch positive things. Everything from guilty-pleasure tabloid magazines to political news coverage has an effect on how we feel and think, and exposing ourselves to a constant stream of daily doom-and-gloom can undoubtedly get you feeling down! Try to limit your exposure to these negative stories, or at the very least balance them out with uplifting ones.
- Sit and stand tall. Ever heard of “fake it ’til you make it?” Proper posture helps you feel confident and healthy. Lucky for us, Pilates is a great way to improve your posture and get you standing a little taller!
- Engage in physical activity. Working out releases happy, smiling-inducing endorphins. Having a bad day? Get in to the studio and get a sweat in with your Pilates pals! I guarantee you’ll leave feeling better both physically and mentally.
So get those ANTs out of your head, and challenge yourself to push harder during your next workout, because you can—If you think you can!
To your health,
ABC Pilates Studio Manager & Instructor