You know how almost every season, there’s always a new fashion focus, whether its certain colors, different style changes, but there is always something that they saturate throughout the media for us to buy. Why can’t they do this with things that can help with our mental health? I think we talk so much about the issue but to destigmatize it, why not have ways that we tell folks what goes together this season to manage how our thoughts can factor in to our feelings and behaviors.
Why isn’t that very popular on the news rotation? I would love to start this trend, so this brings me to what I feel goes together right now.
It’s been getting colder, Daylight Saving Time is over, and I feel that’s another story on its own. I don’t think we need it and don’t think its helpful with our overall fatigue which can trickle down to other factors of mental wellness, but I’ll stay on track.
So, for this season, what goes together in managing how you decide to react to certain things is being able to identify what evidence you have for thinking the thoughts you have and learning to take a pause before saying and doing things you don’t mean.
At times we really are motivated by the sudden rush of adrenaline and this makes us want to react right now, but NO, NO,NO, take a pause and think through things before you impulsively react. Our minds and the things we think about can play some not so great tricks on us, if we’re not fully aware.Some can have a hard time identifying how realistic certain thoughts are so that’s why it is important to identify what you’re doing now and then take the necessary steps to rectify the situation.
Some Tips to Keep Those Thoughts in the Present
- What do you know to be real right now? What evidence do you have for thinking this way in this moment? This may be the best time to take a step back, identify what you know and don’t know and then go from there. Feeding those thoughts that are merely how you perceive the outside world, without some evidence at times, needs to STOP here.
- Take a minute and distract yourself with another activity, then when you have had some time, come back to this thought, this moment and really identify if having this thought really fits with your current environment or is it something that is being created by the anxieties from how you normally perceive your world, which at times may or may not be accurate. You have to be realistic with yourself on how you coast throughout your day to day tasks to be able to identify areas that need some adjustment.
- Learn to observe, no need to judge a moment as right or wrong, good or bad, just be in the moment, that you’re having this thought and just observe. Just like you can observe the person sitting in front of you, or that bird that just flew on that tree branch, just be in that moment and observe. Be aware of this thought that you’re having and know that you don’t necessarily have to react to it in any way.
This is the season to identify what things don’t match up in your space and this is the time to do something about them. If your thoughts go off track at times, let’s work on reeling them back in, so you can be in this moment focusing on what matters right now because it is what you have some control over, right?
Thanks for reading,
So I give my clients quite a bit of techniques to manage their ruminating thoughts but I found myself at a loss yesterday. I guess it was just one of those days. My car started acting up and I could have calmly said, no big deal, I will take care of it tomorrow. Nope. I got annoyed with JW that moment for asking any questions, I went to look at YouTube for what it could possibly be, like I was really going to fix it once I figured out what it was.lol. Also, I went to bed thinking about it and I woke up with the same thoughts. I thought out several plans on how I was going to get it to the dealership, if I should call out from work for the day, if this was the end of my car, etc..le sigh
A common mistake we can make in these situations is not knowing how much control we can have over things we repeatedly think about in our head. We create unnecessary anxiety and stress with being for ourselves in these moments. The thing that happens is that we learn this behavior and it becomes harder to unlearn when we try to. We continue with what we know best and at times that isn’t good for our psyche.
If you ever have a similar moment, here are some options to try. You would think my daily meditations would have helped me deal with this situation a bit better but growth, is the word of the day.
- Learn to pause, because that’s really what we need, to take a breather, calm ourselves down and think through a possible solution.
- To find that solution, it takes coming up with several possibilities, choosing the solution that works best and giving it time to do its magic. If its not working out how you planned, switch it up again. Give yourself an allotted amount of time to see if something works to help with solving the issue that keeps coming up in your head. Also it doesn’t have to be the end all be all.
- There’s always room for meditation to clear your mind and adjust how you’re thinking about the situation.
- You can listen to Weightless by Marconi Union. I learned about this anxiety hack a few weeks ago and have used it to calm my nerves, especially while flying. I know there are various songs out there but this one I can get with. When you hear of research conducted by Dr. David Lewis-Hodgson of Mindlab International on ways that sound can impact our stress response, it got me intrigued and now I’m sold.
- Remove yourself from situations that could intensify your thoughts. Also, think about removing yourself from people to get a clear mind in that moment, to minimize getting annoyed and keep you from snapping at unexpected bystanders.
- Mindfully try to focus on one thing, whether it’s eating, walking or writing, to try to find some peace in doing one thing and being fully aware of whats going on in that moment.
- Get a work-out in, for all the great reasons you can think of, do something you like and that can keep your attention. After a work-out, it can help you see how insignificant a thought is, could help you come up with a better solution and just may help with just overall relaxation which is what we’re going for.
You have more control than you think in these moments and if you’re ruminating thoughts are taking you away from dealing with reality, then its asking yourself why you want to cause yourself this headache. It’s ok to slow down in these moments when you’re mind wants to go everywhere but what it needs to focus on. Create peace in your mind by being present about when you’re thoughts are out of control to be able to look at the one thing that can be done to manage the problem.
One of the things that has always puzzled me is how we can project our own insecurities on others. Could it be that we haven’t dealt with our trust issues? Maybe we haven’t come to terms with accepting how we look? Or is it just we haven’t been able to find satisfaction in our own lives? In these moments we start to transfer this not so great energy onto others, without even thinking about it. I know for me something I would do was judging. I would talk about how someone was, how they possibly dressed and the list could go on until I realized I don’t have an issue with the people I talk about, I had an issue with me. There were certain parts of me that I wasn’t happy with at that time and I lashed out by thinking I was making myself feel better by talking about others focusing on certain areas that I wasn’t pleased about in my own life. I realized for me to stop doing this, I needed to make some changes and for me that included taking care of my physical health, watching my diet, and being an active participant in my own life instead of letting life pass me by.
Also, when I started to give judgmental advice, not allowing others in my life to make a mistake, or just judging them for not seeing things that were affecting their progress, that was it for me. That told me there was something that I had to do because this isn’t how I should be. As a psychotherapist, I couldn’t be one way with my clients and another way with family/friends.
Our automatic thoughts during this time is key. Your automatic thought can go straight to what occurred in your past and you repeat this cycle of projecting past issues onto innocent bystanders. In any case this is the time to do something more with those thoughts. Believe that you can do more and act on doing more. Check those insecurities at the door, check those automatic thoughts as well. We automatically think what we have experienced so to unlearn this it will take work but you have that time. Be honest with yourself and what you project on others and be mindful of the not so great things you say about yourself/others. That right there can truly lead you to identify what things you don’t like about self and working through ways to manage that.
A few things to do to leave those insecurities at the door:
- Be aware of when you’re doing this, stop and catch yourself in the moment and restructure this thought.
- Ask yourself why in this moment are you thinking this specific thought?
- Journal these moments and find a pattern
- Plan to get out of this way of thinking
- Do something about it, get your life in order, work on yourself, basically build yourself up like you need to
I wanted to touch a bit on how much of a difference it makes when we change our mindset on how we perceive things. The plan was to go into the week thinking about things a bit differently than I had been to get a different outcome. Some thoughts really don’t deserve all the energy we give it. There is so much power on how our perspective on things are and once we master this we realize the control we can have over our thoughts and our behaviors. I’ve learned a few things in changing my perspective this week and really wanted to share because of how good I’ve felt.
So a few things I’ve done recently with some reasons why.
- Started going to bed at a set time: This was something that I did consistently when I first moved to Maryland and I guess as I got busier with things, this routine went away. I’ve made it a point to go to bed around the 930 pm mark and it works for me. I know sleep is important for me and I know getting a full nights rest helps me function better the next day. This has helped me wake up naturally around the same time in the mornings without the use of an alarm, which has been good.
- Implemented a morning stretch routine: I read an article about what we should do when we first wake up and one of the suggestions was stretching. It can help with waking your body up and getting some circulation going. I get loosened up and it helps me relax as well. Its become my own time to just be present, be still and focus on nothing else but me. Benefits to stretching can be found here. I do a 10 minute yoga routine that you can find here along with a few more here and here.
- Use of a grounding exercise: These are exercises that help you stay in the moment. One of the ones I have used lately, is putting my legs up against the wall. While lying on the floor on my back, I get as close to the wall as possible, then I put my feet up straight against the wall, hope that makes sense. This is a way to slow your heart rate down and just really be still. You can be in this position for 5 minutes. After this, I usually will still keep my feet up and will think about how I want the day to go and then let a few quotes marinate in my head, before I get up. This moment for me is just being still before I start the day with how chaotic it can get, this is my little moment before I speak to anyone or just start getting ready for my day.
- Listening to inspirational music: I’ve adding this back into my morning routine as I take my shower and get ready. A nice tune with a positive message to match, has always been something that can make me feel good in the moment.
- Take some steps back: To not impulsively respond to things, this works for me. If someone has done something, normally I want to react and its usually not the best response. I’ve started to stop myself in the moment and just shift my focus towards something else. I return to what I need to return to once, I feel I’ve calmed down and thought about an appropriate way to respond and then go from there. It’s been a learning process in stopping myself from reacting with what I want to do but learning to wait, has really helped with me making sure I’m not allowing things that don’t deserve that energy to get it, if that makes sense.
- The art of minding my own business: If something doesn’t pertain to me, doesn’t affect me in some way, I try not to focus on it. I know how invested I can be in situations that may not have anything to do with me and I feed off of that energy. Welp,not anymore, I can’t continue to do that and still be able to manage all the things going on with me.
- Stopped looking at work emails: I get anxiety about seeing a bunch of unread emails but I’ll be fine. The say the best way to manage your anxiety is continuous exposure so I need to understand that things can wait. I wanted to make sure I was on top of things and looking back, most of the messages, could have waited until I got to work the next day. It was a bit weird at first but after work, I’m done with that for the day. My attention needs to shift on to getting home, relaxing, reading, etc. Basically it needs to be on other things, we spend a good amount of time at work, so we need moments to de-stress because we have to do it all over again the next day. Right?
- Allow myself to be Lazy: When I get home from work, I sit on my bed. I give myself time to lay down, think about nothing but just this moment of not having any responsibility. It may last a bit longer than expected but I need it and I allow myself to have these moments.
So far this has been a good plan for me and hoping you see something that could be helpful for you.
Thanks for reading