Occasionally I get a feeling when I know I’m spending too much time “in my own head”. CBT and counselling taught me to be more aware, more counscious, of how I feel and what I’m thinking. Overall that’s a good thing, it’s helped me be more in control and spend more time ‘being’ rather than simply ‘doing’. Sometimes though, help it most certainly does not. Let me explain…
One night a short while ago I was writing my diary, just the same as every night. This night, however, I found myself feeling more and more grumpy, downtrodden and generally fed-up with life the universe and everything the more that I wrote. This was one of the times when I was too much “in my own head”. Talking myself around and around in a spiral of doom and darkness, focussing on the negative things in my life rather than the positive.
Incidently, it’s important to stop here and remember that this is a hugely positive step for me. What, it’s positive that I was feeling like crap? Well no, obviously not. The positive thing is that I recognised that I was feeling like crap, and I worked out why. That’s a little thing that psychiatrists like to call insight my friend. How cool is that!
Anyway, so that’s step one. Now I know what the problem is. Go me. That still leaves me with the small problem of working out what the heck to do about it. Well knock me down with a chocolate teacup if I didn’t know that too (this CBT thing might actually work you know). Distraction.
No, not that kind of distraction. I mean something to get myself out of my head. To take my mind off the negative thoughts. So what did I do that night… well I went to bed and fell asleep. Okay, I know, not the most imaginative distraction in the world. But I did better the next morning.
When I got up the next day, not only did I feel better, but I made a list of things that I can use to distract myself when I’m not feeling great because I’m “in my own head”. Here it is:
- Read a book, for at least 30 minutes
- Go for a walk, for at least 30 minutes
- Meditate, for at least 10 minutes
- Cook something
- Write about something I’ve done that I’m proud of, at least 500 words (I’m sure some of these will pop up on here some day!)
- Mindfully listen to some music, for at least 20 minutes (make sure it’s something that will cheer me up)
So there we go. I’ve been using these ideas for a couple of months now, and I can tell you that they really truly do work. Distraction is a genuinely powerful technique that can help deal with negative thoughts, depression, cravings, compulsive behviours to name but a few.
Perhaps you use distraction yourself? What are your favourite ways of distracting yourself when you’re feeling down?
All the best,