If I can learn one useful tip from a self-help book, I usually consider it a good buy. One of the most helpful tips I’ve learned and one that’s now part of my toolkit for maintaining my own mental wellness has to do with our thinking and how it can either hinder or help us.
We can all feel negative and low from time to time and one of the things I failed to realise until fairly recently is that trying to solve problems while you’re feeling down is not only ineffective but tends to make matters worse. The vital thing seems to be to spot what’s going on in your head and to become attuned to your thinking. Easier said than done, you may say. However, we all have an internal barometer which can tell us when something’s not right with our thinking—namely, our feelings. If we don’t feel either on an even keel or happy (ignoring understandable times of trauma and loss), chances are very high we’re engaging in negative head chatter. This can encompass negativity towards ourselves, another human being or situation we find ourselves in.
When we’re in one of these downers, negative thinking begets negative feelings and these in turn beget increasingly more negative thoughts leading to a downward spiral that becomes ever harder to climb out of. Trying to think our way out of a problem when we’re feeling like this usually ends up with faulty judgements and actions—not to mention hostility towards our partner or family. So instead, if we can learn to spot the negative chatter and any negative action replays we’re indulging in we can consciously decide to stop thinking and start doing instead. Here’s where housework, exercise or watching funny cat videos is the perfect way to distract ourselves (distraction isn’t just for toddlers). We can learn to spot the thoughts and say to ourselves: ‘Enough thinking, get busy and come back to find a solution once the blues have gone’. I also tend to do this in parallel with using another tool—practising an attitude of gratitude. It’s proven to boost serotonin and lift our mood. Indeed, in my experience repeating grateful statements—even though it’s the last thing we feel like doing—can actually can transform our mood.
What mental wellness tools do you use?
June 16, 2016
Note: If you’re a practising addict (drugs, alcohol, binge-eating disorder or bulimia) the first step to mental wellness is abstinence from the addictive substance. Only then can these tools be effectively implemented. www.aa.org, www.na.org, www.kaysheppard.com , www.recoveryfromfoodaddiction.org
This material should not be taken as medical advice or diagnosis, you should always consult with a qualified medical practitioner before starting any health programme or if you have any concerns about your health.