“Our life is shaped by our mind, for we become what we think.” – Buddha
There are moments when we don’t feel happy, adequate, or capable; when we feel low and weak, down and out. Sometimes we let these moments get the best of us by letting all our worries and stress flood our minds with negative thoughts. Often those thoughts aren’t grounded in present reality; we allow ourselves to imagine possible problems and negative situations that have not and may never come to pass. Other times there just isn’t anything we can do in the moment to resolve the problem.
These are the moments when we need to stop the detrimental internal dialogue and focus elsewhere, to be distracted and redirected. Once we’ve cleared our minds, we are better able to make good decisions and get to grips with stress and fear. This has certainly been my experience. I have found that when I entertain negative thinking I feel worse and my imagination runs away with me creating ever-worsening versions of future possibilities. Lately, I’ve made an effort not to dwell and instead temporarily distract myself. This provides time to calm down and later revisit issues with a clear head. Here are a couple of activities you can do to distract your mind and redirect your energy.
Go back to the very foundation of caring for yourself and eat well. Focus on what you will eat today, what you’ll eat tomorrow, and for the rest of the week. Plan three wonderful, nutritious meals for every day of the week. Think about cutting sugars and processed food. Cook from scratch with ingredients that were once alive. Stock up on vegetables of all color varieties. Feed yourself and get back into a habit of caring for you from the inside. Drink water, drink tea. Meal preparation and cooking is meditation for the mind that can’t stop wandering back to the negative.
Wash your dishes. Because as shitty as it is to have to wash dishes, it’s a task that takes time and occupies your mind, giving you a much needed break from your thoughts. Clean your space. No matter whether that’s an entire home or one room, clean and organize your personal living space. Get rid of the stuff you no longer need or want. Make room. Make space for yourself to grow and change, make space for the new. Re-energize your home. Take a luxurious bath. Soak and soothe your body, exfoliate, and moisturize.
Go out into the garden and breathe. Listen to the sounds of the birds and check in on the plants you have growing. Pluck off the dead or yellowing leaves, check for pests sapping the life from your plants, and water them. Move plants that need more space for their roots, separate your bulbs so they proliferate. Take care of nature, help it blossom, and nature will do the same for you. No garden? No problem, do this next one.
Get out and move your bones. Stretch those limbs and expand your lungs. Walk to clear your mind and see something different. Go out, see what’s happening in the world, and catch snippets of conversations. Go walk in different locations; hear the crunch of leaves underfoot in the forest, smell the salty sea air on the promenade, eat with your eyes at the local market.
Delve into the stories of others and travel to places you may or may not have thought of visiting. Escape into words and worlds beyond your own. Get lost, pass time, and enjoy the ride.
Learn something new or hit the books again and dig deeper into something you already know to some level. Immerse yourself in information and experience to help you move forward or in a new direction. Learn something for the inspiration and reinvigoration that will surely follow. It’ll help you learn more about yourself and to see proof of all you are capable of. Be open and, you never know, new paths and avenues might open themselves up to you.
How do you cope with the negative internal dialogue that strikes us when we’re down?