When was the last time you talked to yourself out loud?
It's not a trick question, and your answer is probably not too long ago. Just this morning, I reminded myself out loud to pack my lunch before I left for work.
Psychologists call speaking to yourself this way external self-talk, and it's by no means a bad thing.
Studies actually reveal that pretty much everyone does it, especially while working through a tough task.
In fact, you should probably talk to yourself more often, because there are a lot of healthy benefits.
1. You'll Think Faster
While other studies show that talking to yourself can improve your mood, it also seems to help you think faster.
Naming something or someone out loud seems to help our minds visualize it, which is called the feedback hypothesis by researchers.
In a study, subjects were asked to find a picture of something in a group of images. When they were allowed to name the object, they found it much faster.
So if you're always muttering "keys, keys, keys" before you leave the house, give yourself some credit, it's actually not a bad idea.
2. You'll Feel Happier
Giving yourself a pep talk out loud might sound narcissistic, but it's a proven way to lift your mood, which has a number of health benefits.
Happier people tend to live longer, happier lives and benefit from positive health outcomes, like lower blood pressure and healthy blood sugar levels.
An easy way to lift your mood is by sharing three things that made you happy today out loud in conversation with yourself. It's impossible to stay grumpy or sad when you're looking back on something that made you smile.
And this habit pays off in the long run, because research shows even patients with conditions like AIDS and Type 2 diabetes live longer if they practice positivity.
3. You'll Solve Those Nagging Problems
As we've already shared, talking through a problem out loud as you try to solve it helps your mind find the solution more quickly.
Researchers say that the distance you put between yourself and your thoughts when you say them out loud helps find objective solutions to your problems.
Talking through a problem with yourself is surprisingly close to having someone else guiding you, and solutions always seem obvious when somebody else suggests them.
And this method has proven results: Studies of kids taking tests found that students who spoke to themselves positively scored higher than students who didn't.
Another study of motivational self-talk even found that basketball players who cheered themselves on demonstrated better motor skills, which is proof that talking things thought makes just about anything easier.
4. You'll Feel Less Stressed
It's no secret that stress can do a number on your body.
Stress isn't just a feeling, it also encourages the release of stress hormones, which can raise your blood pressure, keep you awake at night, make your body store fat, and cause plenty of other unpleasant side effects.
Health experts say talking to yourself when you're feeling stressed out is not only perfectly normal, but can also be very helpful.
The key is to make sure that your outside voice is encouraging.
Try to spend a few minutes each day talking through what you accomplished that day, and what you plan to do tomorrow.
Use positive, encouraging language, and notice how much better you feel about yourself.
5. You'll Feel Less Anxious
Whether or not you've been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, this nagging feeling can interfere with your daily life in all kinds of unfortunate ways.
But a study found that subjects who psyched themselves up with a positive speech experienced less anxiety, and performed better at certain tasks.
Surprisingly, researchers also learned that how you talk to yourself makes a difference.
Speaking to yourself in the second or third person, as in "You can do it!" or "John can do it!" helped the most.
That's probably because it felt like the pep talk was coming from someone else, instead of just the subject's own thoughts.