Mental health is a big deal to us at Alo. It’s what drove us to our mat, it’s what keeps us there, and it’s what impassions us to inspire more people onto theirs.
While we continue our personal journey of mental health, the month of May reminds us that we’re doing so alongside a global community of others. For over 50 years, Americans have observed May as Mental Health Awareness Month — 30 days in which we work to destigmatize the challenges that so many of us face with depression, anxiety, mood disorders, negative thoughts, and problematic coping mechanisms.
We’re all battling our own battles. But we’re also all battling. This month is about putting our heads together to share the resources in our mental health toolbelt — an important asset in our mental health journey — and join hands as we walk this walk together.
For the Alo Fam, we’ve found that squashing negative self-talk moves mountains when the inevitable anxieties of the human condition set in.
So often our brains convince us that the judgements and criticisms of our thoughts are reality. We rationalize the negative self-talk so much that we adopt it as our identity. Alo is here to tell you that you are you not your thoughts — you are so much more than them and then some.
Because this self-limiting cycle is more common than you think — in fact, it served as a huge catalyst for owner and founder of Alo, Danny Harris to take his first yoga class — we’ve put together a go-to list of our top 3 ways to cope with that inner critic, turn down the volume when it gets too loud — and maybe even befriend it.
Next time the negative self-talk creeps up, try out these tricks to press pause on that dialogue and beckon self-acceptance and self-love into your life...
The reason we’re constantly chasing more toes-on-the-mat experiences? Because yoga transforms racing thoughts and self-doubt into a conscious focus on the present moment.
Combining breathwork with the bends and twists our bodies allow empowers our minds to fully and gratefully take in the space that surrounds us, the body we showed up with, and the clarity of a decluttered mind. Alo Moves provides a beautiful collection of different ways to get our toes on the mat and pulse check our mental health on the days we need it most.
Although yoga is our pick of the bunch, we're always finding new ways to move mindfully and give ourselves some peace. Mindful movement looks different to everyone, so experiment, play, and allow your mind to center its attention on something new. Whether you’re joining us on our mat, taking a scenic bike ride, sweating it out to Bey, or shadow boxing your demons, breathe deep and pay attention to your blood pumping, your heart beating, and the breath that sustains you.
NAME YOUR INNER CRITIC
Our brains often trick us into believing that our true self and our inner critic are one — making it especially difficult to fend off unhelpful (and sometimes, downright mean) thoughts about our past, our future, and our ability to have what we need to be happy. When you fixate on these self-criticisms, what started as forgetting to call a friend somehow spirals. Now, the volume is turned all the way up on the voice calling you careless and telling you you’re unworthy of love — we know how quickly your inner critic gets you from point A to point B because we have our own inner critics.
As silly as it may sound: Name. Your. Inner. Critic.
By giving this negative voice in your brain a label, you create enough distance to discern that you are not those negative thoughts—which you aren’t, for the record (we know everyone needs a reminder).
Whether it’s Meddlesome Mary or Skeptic Sydney, labeling your inner critic helps you realize it’s a force outside of yourself. You don’t have to acquiesce to its assumptions and judgements. You don’t need to feel threatened by its presence. In fact, labeling your inner critic helps you realize how ridiculous a lot of your thoughts can be. You can interact with Meddlesome Mary any way you choose— you can even show her compassion. Meddlesome Mary may be misguided, but she’s trying to protect you.
Rather than processing Meddlesome Mary’s two cents as factual data, find peace in the fact that Mary is just doing her thing again and will soon pass.
For the days when Negative Ned monopolizes your thoughts, sitting in meditative silence seems like the prime opportunity for him to flourish. Metta Meditation, or otherwise known as Loving-Kindness Meditation, offers an alternative to sitting with our thoughts for those high-anxiety days.
This concentration practice is a Buddhist meditation that involves a conscious cultivation of love and kindness for others and in turn, for one’s self. Feelings of self-doubt and unworthiness feel like the black-and-white hypnosis boards—the more you feed into it, the deeper you go. Metta Meditation throws you a life jacket that pulls you out of the spiral by providing a specific, positive place for you to direct all of your attention.
Here’s how to do it: find a quiet space, get comfortable, focus on your breath, select a positive and kind phrase, and slowly, consciously repeat the phrase with yourself, your loved ones, your acquaintances, and the difficult individuals in your life as the subject.
May ___ be joyful. May ___ be safe. May ___ find peace.
It’s easier to show compassion and warmth for those around you but notice how a few minutes of this practice begins to shape the emotions you hold about yourself.
Be patient, let go of believing you’re not doing it right, and allow distractions to slip on by without discrediting yourself—love and kindness is the name of the game so let that melt into every one of your thoughts.
If you're needing some extra support (like we all do), try a guided Metta Meditation with Kirat Randhawa on Alo Moves or Caley Alyssa’s practice below.
Throughout your mental health journey, meet yourself right where you are, relinquish the expectations, and let go of judgements. Continually add to your toolbelt so that you’re jam-packed with tricks to separate yourself from your inner critic, calm your mind on the most anxious of days, and find calmness with a community of others journeying alongside you.
We’re constantly looking for new ways to keep our minds healthy, so share your favorite tools in your mental health toolbelt with the Alo Fam by tagging @Alo in your posts.