So many of us seem to be good at kicking ourselves when we are down.
I am not feeling good about my job at the moment, so while I am feeling down I will also remind myself about how I haven’t exercised for ages, how I haven’t spoken to my best friend in a week and what a terrible friend I am. And then don’t forget that I haven’t eaten as many vegetables this week as I should have and there is still my savings account I need to set up and has been sitting on my to do list for months. And of course there is also my overflowing email inbox that is telling me how much of a procrastinator I am.
And on and on we can go…
What started as not having a good day has turned into I am a bad person and look at all the reasons I am a bad person.
That negative spiral has a way of getting out of control very quickly. We all feel it and we are all capable of stepping out of it before we start piling on the unrelated crap that we use to keep us down. Each of those things are just thoughts and we can easily stop them, but sometimes that is easier said than done.
So here are the ways that I keep myself from entering that spiral:
Get up from where I am sitting when I start feeling like crap and start entering the spiral and go somewhere different. This is often as simple as getting out of my chair and getting a cup of tea. Or walking into a different room. The simple act of moving myself from the place where the thought started is often enough to move my thoughts on.
Fresh air makes everything better for me. Just getting out of a building and into the fresh air helps me get a different perspective. If that movement hasn’t worked and the simple fresh air hasn’t worked then it may be necessary to pull on some exercise gear and go for a walk. Or get on my bike, or go for a swim.
Lie down and go to sleep
I often find that my negative spirals come on when I am tired and potentially overwhelmed. So going to my bed, getting under my duvet and just putting my head on the pillow helps me move to a different space when I wake up – whether that be 15 minutes, 2 hours or 8 hours later.
I turn to my partner and say “I’m starting to head down a rabbit hole” at which point he will acknowledge it and then we will start a discussion or conversation about something else. Acknowledging the thoughts is often enough for me to be able to move on.
For me it is about finding ways to stop the jamming of my thoughts on the negative emotion and fueling that fire. Thoughts come and go naturally, so if you don’t fixate on them and fuel that negative spiral you will be having new (and possibly refreshing) thoughts within minutes. I’m not perfect at this yet, but I am so much better at stopping that downward spiral than I used to be.
Do you feel your negative spiral coming on? What works for you? I would love to hear your experiences and tools. You can also take a look at my first aid kit for other things I turn to when having a bad day.