Positive self-talk

Reflection helps us to make sense of our experiences and evaluate the care we provide as nurses, midwives and students. When reflection becomes unhealthy self-talk, it may have a negative influence on our behaviour, mental health and outlook and the situations we face daily.

If you are feeling overwhelmed by negative thoughts and would like to chat to someone you can call our confidential support line 24/7 on 1800 667 877.
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A key role as a nurse or midwife is to advocate for those in our care. Sometimes it gets hard for people to remain positive in times of pain, grief and uncertainty but we try our best to keep hopes high and promote positivity. Often nurses and midwives don’t do a great job at instilling hope and positivity within themselves, due to stress, exhaustion and carer’s fatigue. 

Self-talk – what is it?

Self-talk is the conversations you have with yourself in your head. It can have a powerful influence on your behaviour, your perception of the world and the way you react to everything.

The practice of positive self-talk can lead to improved self-esteem, improved management of stress, enhanced wellbeing and may reduce the impact caused by depression, anxiety and personality disorders (Health Direct, 2015).

Positive self-talk:

  • improves self esteem
  • helps manage stress
  • enhances overall sense of wellbeing
  • can reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety and personality disorders 
  • reduces the risk of unhealthy behaviours
  • promotes optimism and fosters hope.

Negative self-talk can hold you back, result in pessimism and make you miserable:

  • causes pessimism
  • affects your confidence
  • diminishes your sense of wellbeing
  • can lead us to unhealthy coping mechanisms e.g.: substance use, self-harm
  • affects the way you deal with challenging situation
  • puts strain on your coping mechanisms
  • enhances feelings of worthlessness, fear and guilt.
Breaking the cycle of negativity

There are many reasons for people having negative thoughts. Experiencing stress, being overworked and illness or injury are just a few factors that can tip people into negativity. It is important to ‘check in’ with the commentary in your head on a regular basis to combat any negative thoughts and conversations, reduce their length and the effects they have on your wellbeing. Often prolonged negative thinking can be a symptom of or lead us to depression and or anxiety, and reduce your ability to cope with everyday stressors.

Here are some ideas for you to think about when checking in on the conversations you are having with yourself:

  • How often do I say I can’t?
  • Are the conversations I’m having with others generally positive?
  • How do I look at the glass of life – half full or half empty?
  • How much time do I spend feeling sorry for myself?
  • When things haven’t gone right what happened?
  • Am I surrounding myself with positive people or negative people and what effect do the people around me have on my sense of self?
  • Am I having a negative or positive effect on the people around me?

If you’re not sure how to check in with yourself, give us a call at Nurse & Midwife Support on 1800 667 877 we would be pleased to chat to you about this because your health matters.

Positive affirmations

Affirmations are positive statements that can help motivate the mind in times of uncertainty and doubt. They can inspire and reverse the effects of negative self-talk. Chanting or repeating affirmations regularly during your self-talk can help enhance positive conversation in your mind, boosting your energy and positively impact your behaviours and actions (Sasson, R. 2017).

Keep a positive reminder close

Print off a positive affirmation and keep it with your lanyard or clip for your keys or swipe card to refer to if you’re feeling overwhelmed or negative thoughts are fuelling your internal conversations.

Positive affirmation exercise diagram

The 90/10 rule

The 90/10 rule is a simple principle that can have a great impact on your reactions to situations. It states that in life there are the things you can and the things you cannot control.

Ten percent of things that happen to us or around us are out of our control. Your shift being cancelled, a last-minute radiology cancelation for a fasting patient or a prescribing error on a medication chart can be frustrating. The way we react to these frustrations is really what determines the outcome of things that are out of our control. This means that you hold the power to the way you describe your day and the way it ends. Ninety percent of the things that happen to us are a result of the way we react to the uncontrollable 10 percent (Covey, S. 2013).

Do you react in a positive way or do you react in a negative way? Think about how this impacts your day and the way you feel at the end of a shift. Reflect on what each day looks like and try to think of the 90/10 rule next time something happens that you can’t control or change.

What can I do next?

Why not read some of our other articles on ways to promote a positive sense of health and wellbeing.




Healthy eating

Our service provides free and confidential support 24/7, to nurses, midwives and students Australia wide. If you would like to speak to someone call 1800 667 877, or you can request support via email.

If you would like to know a bit more about the service before getting in contact — take a look through accessing support.

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