Most people are quick to treat physical pain and injuries yet easily ignore psychological pain until it can have lasting negative consequences. We are always hardest on ourselves.
When your own inner dialogue shifts toward self-destructive patterns or maybe you just have a case of the “blahs” here are some immediate steps to practice self care and get you back on track.
1. Take care of your basic needs first.
Stop what you are doing and take care of your basic needs first: H.A.L.T
- Hungry – Eat something!
- Angry – Can you let go of this gripe?
- Lonely – Call a friend, put on a funny show, reach out to another voice to counter the negative one that is your own
- Tired – Many times our worst thought patterns take place at night. These spirals are best when they are shelved for the night and addressed in the morning after a full night’s rest.
2. Take a 2 minute time out.
There is scientific evidence that allowing a 2 minute distraction from a negative thought pattern will allow the subject to reset into a more positive mental space.
Find a small practical task that needs to get done anyway. Take out the trash, water the plants, feed your goldfish, or organize your sock drawer. Whatever is bothering you will still be there when you are finished but you may be able to take a more logical approach or even leave that well-worn path of self-depreciation completely.
Don’t believe it? Here is an incredibly powerful TED talk by Psychologist Guy Winch on this subject:
If this is a more persistent struggle for you check out this blog by the same author:
In much the same way that dental hygiene involves brushing our teeth and flossing every day, and personal hygiene involves cleaning ourselves and taking care of physical injuries when we sustain them, emotional hygiene refers to being mindful of our psychological health and adopting brief daily habits to monitor and address psychological wounds when we sustain them. Currently, our general neglect of our emotional hygiene is profound. How is it we spend more time each day taking care of our teeth than our minds? We brush and floss but what daily activity do we do to maintain our psychological health?
He advocates a much more proactive approach than most of us take. First we must recognize the pattern, then initiate constant damage control, finally we have to understand the lasting effects that emotional damage can cause us.
Our present actions do not have to be dictated by past events, but we do have to learn how to move forward a little at a time each day.