When we feel like crap, there tends to be a shift in our sensation of mental space. No one is happy all of the time. It is the dips in mood and experience which makes life the adventure it is. But some days, you just feel like crap, and all your brain can offer is “but you have no reason for this.”
Thanks brain. You tried.
So here are six tools to try out, the next time your monkey mind is full of emotional crap.
1: Brain Dump
The first step is always to actually face whatever’s going on. Avoidance doesn’t help, and if you feel like crap, you’ve got nothing to lose by thinking about what may be contributing.
My favourite way is to set a timer for 60 seconds, grab the back of an opened envelope and biro, and write down everything going though my head at that moment.
If you like writing stream-of-consciousness or “dear diary” conversations, then go for it.
If you like lists, just bullet point the categories of item: * bills * mum’s birthday * health appointment *work project 3.
Once it’s all on paper, it creates a little bit of pressure of HOLDING it all, and remembering everything. Feel free to jot down items any time you feel overwhelmed so you can stop worrying about it, and clear a little bit of that space for vital information, like your favourite name for a pet lizard.
2: Make a Plan or List
Once you have a list of the issues, you can plan a solution for at least a couple of them.
* mum’s birthday can become a calendar appointment at 9pm tonight “buy mum’s present online.”
Anything you can either cross of the list immediately, or put a solid, concrete, practical plan into action to make progress on it in a timely manner will help ease the intensity of your thoughts.
Sometimes, when we’re feeling crap, it’s because we’re thinking about things that aren’t current: bad memories of the past or worries about the future. Perhaps it’s because we’re thinking “why do I feel so crap?”
Stop thinking, and distract yourself. For some people, putting on a comedy clip on youtube is enough to snap us out of the moment. For others, drawing or a hobby will help break that moment.
We are social beings, and one of the key things to build up that sense of positivity is contact with others. It can be as easy as texting a friend, or sending a video of baby goats racing to a friend online. That sense of connection naturally have the impact of making us feel less alone, and can impact the intensity of negative emotions.
Let yourself feel a bit crap, and curl up on the sofa with a nice film, or let yourself have a nap. Especially if you’ve tried the things above and still feel like shit. Let yourself rest for a bit, in case that helps. We so rarely let ourselves breathe.
Focusing on how we feel emotionally, and on our thoughts, which often say unhelpful things, can sometimes increase how we PERCEIVE those feelings. Behaviours, or taking action, is often the best way to create mental space. Washing up a plate, dancing to a song, doing 5 press ups on the living carpet, or even just pacing up and doing. Get your body moving, take an action from that list we made above and get that sense of progress flowing.
Of course, this list is not exhaustive of every option, but these are some good places to start when you just aren’t feeling great, and want to have a break from the emotions.
What do you find helpful in clearing mental space?
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