I try to keep a positive attitude and see the glass half full, but I would lie if I said it’s easy.
Wherever I turn, I see people suffering. I turn on the news and I see helpless people escaping from wars. I go on FB and I’m caught in a political drama between friends who support different parties. I meet up with a friend and she complains how crappy her job is.
I can’t help absorb some of this negative energy. All those negative thoughts swirling around in my head make me feel hopeless. They take down my confidence a notch or two. They’re like a cancer eating away at my hopes and dreams. What’s the point of going after them when everything is bound to end up horribly anyway?
Whenever I feel like this, I know it’s time for a mind detox. Here are my favourite 5 ways to detox my mind of all negative thoughts and get my mojo back:
1. Do A Brain Dump
Do you ever feel like your brain just won’t shut off? I can’t tell you how many nights I’ve spent tossing and turning in my bed, thinking of all the things I had to do the next day, worrying about what was going on in the world or wondering what project I should pursue next.
One of my favourite ways to free up some mind space is to do a brain dump. I literally dump anything that’s swirling around in my head on a piece of paper.
It’s incredible how light your mind feels when you can see your thoughts in black and white. You suddenly realise what your priorities are and what you can let go of.
- Grab a piece of paper and write down EVERYTHING that’s on your mind right now. Need to do the laundry? Write it down. Are you thinking of offering social media consultations to small businesses? Jot it down. Are you worried about what you’ve just heard on the news? Put it on the list. You get the drift.
- Grab a black pen. Cross off anything that’s not necessary, that you can’t take action on in the near future or that is unreasonable for you to do now.
- Look at what’s left. Are there any things that fall into a similar category? Group them together. For example, I use “work,” “home,” “personal,” and “errands.”
- Take another piece of paper and divide it into four quadrants: Urgent And Important, Important But Not Urgent, Urgent But Not Important (ie, social media or emails), Not Urgent And Not Important.
- Put what’s left on your list in the appropriate quadrant.
That’s it! Now, you know what to focus on and can forget about all the rest. It’s not taking up brain space anymore.
2. Go On A Media Diet
Every time I turn on the news it feels like the world is going to end. Children are brutally killed in wars. Hurricanes destroy entire cities. The economy is tanking again.
I don’t follow the news anymore. It’s not that I don’t care about what’s going in the world. I do. I’m just tired of all the constant stream of negativity.
There are so many bad things going on in the world and we should talk about them. But what about all the good things that are happening too?
The heroes, like doctors in war zones or volunteers at your local shelter, that every single day do their best to help those in need, away from the limelight?
The small acts of kindness we all do every day for our friends, neighbours, even strangers? The young women and men who are chasing their dreams and succeeding against all the odds?
When you only hear about the bad, it’s so easy to get depressed and feel helpless, like nothing you do matters. What’s the point of looking for a job when the economy is this bad? Why hustle if you think that small town girls can’t make it in this tough world, anyway?
Would you feel that way if the media reported about the industries that are booming even in a tanking economy or the women who have turned their passion into a career?What you feed your brain matters. Feed it a negativity diet and it'll think you can never amount to anything. Nourish it with positive thoughts and it'll make you thrive beyond your wildest dreams.
Go on a media diet. For the next couple of weeks, avoid any TV programme, magazine and website that makes you feel sad, depressed and like giving up. How do you feel when you aren’t constantly exposed to all the negativity?
P.S. If you really need to stay up to date with world news, limit your consumption time to 10/20 minutes a day. The rest of the time, ignore the news or consume content that makes you feel good about yourself. This isn’t about ignoring the world. It’s about getting a more balanced view of what’s really going on.
3. Say Goodbye To Toxic People
The best thing I ever did was leave behind Negative Nancies and Pessimistic Petes in Italy to start a new life in London. Now, I don’t have to put up with “friends” who think I’m crazy for pursuing a writing career instead than taking an office job or hang out with a relative who only moans about how bad she has it.
I know it’s not nice to say, but the people you surround yourself with can make it or break it for you.
When you’re spending time with people who settled for a crappy job or a crappy relationship and keep complaining how unfair life is, you absorb those negative mindsets. You start believing that life for the likes of you will always suck so there’s no point in trying to change it.
But when you surround yourself with positive people? People who are hustling to live the life of their dreams, who are passionate about what they do and face problems head on? That’s when you start believing you can do it, too. And you will.
- Grab a piece of paper and divide it into two columns. On the left, jot down the names of negative people you could easily cut out of your life, like that old friend who calls you only when she needs a favour. On the right, write down the names of negative people you can’t avoid, like your mum or a colleague you work with everyday.
- Cut out of your life all the people on the left column. When they call, simply tell them you have other plans and can’t see them. Unfriend them on Facebook. Don’t feel guilty. No one has the right to infect you with their negativity. If you don’t want to put up with it, don’t.
- Spend less time with people on the right column. You can’t stop spending time with your mother (and I would never suggest you do), but if your daily calls leave you feeling sad, can you catch up only once a week? Before taking the plunge, try saying something like, “Mom, I love you but your negative outlook on life and constant stream of complaints is making me feel sad and depressed. Can we try and talk about positive things and see the silver lining in everything that happens? Otherwise, I’m afraid I will have to call you less often.” It’ll be tough at first, but overtime, your mum will make an effort to be more positive so she can stay in touch with you more often. Win win.
Your mind has a mind of its own. Once it starts worrying about something, it blows it up all proportions. Keeping thinking about it just feeds the monster.Instead than dwelling of what's wrong, figure out a way to calm down your mind.
My fave way to calm down my mind is meditation. I lie down on my bed, open Insight Timer (my fave meditation app) and focus on my breathing for the next 15 minutes.
Breathe in. Breathe out.
At first, my brain doesn’t want to cooperate. It stubbornly insists to remind me of my woes. That’s fine. When that happens, just gently bring your focus back to your brain.
Best of all, focusing on your breath is something you can do at any time. Even without the app. Even without lying down.
Whenever that coworker is annoying you again or you’re worried about something, take a few deep breaths. They’ll calm you down quickly.
5. Take Some Me TimeSelf-care isn't a selfish luxury. It's a precious necessity.
When you’re overworked, don’t sleep well and feed your body only junk food, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Even the smallest task feels like a mission impossible. You slip up and your confidence takes a hit. Now you see everything in a bad light.
Every day, carve out a few minutes for yourself. I like to take an hour before bed to read a good book. If I feel very stressed on a certain day, I’ll relax with a bubble bath.
You can go for a walk. Dance around to your fave music. Whatever relaxes you and recharges your battery. You won’t be of use to anyone if you don’t take care of yourself first.
Over to you now. How do you detox your mind of negative thoughts? Share your tricks in the comments below.