By Lily Cooper
Professional Writing Major, College of Humanities and Social Sciences
Have you ever heard of positive psychology? It is the scientific study of the strengths that enable individuals and communities to thrive. It has three pillars which include: positive experiences, positive individual traits and positive institutions. It is important to understand these emotions to understand the contentment with the past, happiness in the present and hope for the future.
There are many activities that a psychologist can do to help their client, depending on their situation and mental health. However, these exercises can be used to help anyone with their self-esteem and mental health and will be able to positively affect them in many ways.
Have your client write themselves a letter starting with an aspect of themselves that they dislike and criticize such as appearance, career, health, relationships, etc. Instruct them to write it in detail about how it makes them feel.
Then, have them write another letter from the perspective of a kind friend who loves them. What do they say? How do they encourage?
After writing the letter, have them set it aside for a little while before going to review it. Have them read the compassionate words from the “friend” and how loved they are. Whenever they are feeling down about this aspect of themselves, they can pull out the letter and remember how accepted and loved they are.
Best Possible Self
Set a timer for ten minutes and have your client write and imagine their best possible self in the future. What would their life be like? What things would they have achieved? What do they want in life?
After the timer goes off, reflect on their feelings and answers to what they want their best possible self to be. Ask if it inspires them to do better in the future, how it motivates them and how it affects them.
Three Minute Break
We can all get stuck in a negative thinking cycle. Our thoughts will circulate a mile a minute and an immediate result of sadness or frustration can appear.
A great exercise to have your client practice if they experience this is the three-minute break which involves three steps:
- Ask yourself, “Where am I? How am I?” and “What am I thinking?” This distracts the person and focuses their attention on something other than the patterns of overthinking.
- Focus on breathing.
- Focus on your body as a whole and evaluate your breathing and surroundings.
Using this exercise can help calm down the mind and doesn’t take too much time out of the day to do. Have your client practice this in your office and suggest they do it in their free time.
Keep a Journal
Writing is a great way to get thoughts out and calm the mind down. Have your client get a journal or notebook and write down their thoughts, experiences and anything else. During sessions, you can ask your client to reflect on their writing and what they are going through on a day-to-day basis.
Are you interested in learning more about our online counseling programs? If so, visit the College of Humanities and Social Sciences website or use the Request More Information button.
- Harvard Health Publishing. “Positive Psychology in Practice.” Harvard Health Blog, http://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/positive_psychology_in_practice.
- “9 Positive Psychology Exercises to Do With Clients or Students.” Positive Psychology Program – Your One-Stop PP Resource!, positivepsychologyprogram.com/positive-psychology-exercises/.