If I’m honest, that’s not an easy one. Especially these times, the coronavirus has two apple sides to bite for me. On the one hand, I can focus more on myself, doing things I love and learning to be more mindful, on the other hand, I have too much time with myself. And, as you all know, sometimes you are your worst enemy. Here are some great tips and methods I have read in the book Declutter your mind by S. J. Scott and Barrie Davenport “to stop worrying, relieve anxiety and eliminate negative thinking.”
How do we get in this negative wheel?
There are 4 main reasons.
Maybe you would say, no I’m fine I don’t have to work I’m relaxed the whole time. Good. But for me, this time of isolation can be devasting. While we are off work we think we have to be productive even if it’s after the end of work. Then there is the news which is overloading us with negative information day by day, minute after minute. We are worrying more, are more stressed and sometimes alone. Information overload, physical clutter and endless choices, etc. lead to generalized anxiety, panic attacks and depression. Coupled with other worries somatic issues like sleeping problems and stomach disorders could occur.
Paradox of choice
Barry Schwartz has coined this phrase while he found out that an increased choice leads to greater anxiety, indecision paralysis, and dissatisfaction. I don’t know about you, but while I started the Kon Marie Method and have seen this huge mountain of clothes, I would have loved to kick it back into the drawer.
I was so overwhelmed by the mess.
Famous people like Barack Obama noticed that too, so he decided to only wear grey and blue suits. Why? Because he has more important decisions to make than what to wear.
Too much stuff isn’t new at all since Marie Kondo turned our consumer world upside down. Not only our home is cluttered, but also our mind. We are wondering how other people feel, where they at, how a beautiful life they have and don’t understand that we are thinking about trivialities. We don’t want to miss anything new. It won’t make you feel better being confronted with information, pictures and so on. On the contrary, it leads to mental and emotional exhaustion.
If you need some motivation to start decluttering, Marie Kondo has a series on Netflix where you can do it with her together as I started, or you listen to her audiobook on Spotify or watch YouTube videos. You will see that everything that you don’t use, want or like is in your head and clutters this space.
The negativity bias
Do you feel that you are more sensible and attentively when it comes to negative stimuli? Why? “You had to overestimate threats, underestimate opportunities and underestimate resources” because you needed to survive in the stone age. For that reason, the human brain is hardwired to overthink, worry and view situations more negatively.
“Any negative thought that enters your mind feels real, so there is an impulse to accept it as reality. (…) You may be hardwired to think negatively, but you don’t have to accept this predisposition.”
What can you do to become better at identifying your thoughts?
“Mindfulness requires retraining your brain to stay out of mental clutter from the future and focus instead on the present moment.”
Methods of how to declutter your mind
Personally, I would recommend Headspace, I use it as well and the beginner’s guide is free. I like it because it is guided so I know what to do.
- Reframing negative thoughts
One thing I learned is that you are not your thoughts.
Notice your thought patterns and interrupt them.
- Be the watcher separate yourself
- You are not your thoughts. Don’t judge them just witness there is something. Observing them rather than attaching disempowers the thoughts and emotions they foster.
- Name it.
- “I’m lazy and unproductive” -to -“I have the thought I’m lazy and unproductive.”
- Know your triggers. When are you feeling this way? What makes you feel think negatively? Social Media, less sleep, etc.
- Distract yourself.
- Something that brings you back to the present or just change your attention. Here is a list of feel-good series and documentaries.
- Teach your old mind new tricks
- Replace the thought
Don’t think like all or nothing. When a negative thought arrives like “I’m lazy” then replace this thought with a concrete example that contradicts it. For example “I have cleaned the kitchen today.”
- Practice acceptance.
What about those thoughts when there is a legitimate reason to worry? Like the coronavirus now.
“When you struggle against the reality of a bad situation, you’re adding another layer of suffering to your psyche.”
By saying I accept this thought you don’t endorse it, you just stop fighting against it and you are capable of…
“Determine any actions to take to improve or rectify it.
Seek out anything positive you can learn from it.
Find ways to get support as you are enduring it.”
- Take mindful action.
For example Journaling.
Do something creative: draw, play an instrument, dance.
Learn something new.
Construct something by hand.
Last but not least, here are my tips which helped me that aren’t of this book:
- Every day I write down what was positive for me, for example, having a nice talk with my neighbor, a romantic date night with my partner, the first flowers in spring. All positive experiences, whether they are small or big, help me to train my mind on finding more of these.
- Have something you are passionate about, so you wake up every morning. I had this phase where I slept till 2 pm, mostly every day, because I quitted my studies and had no job. It was devastating for me. Therefore, I needed an appointment or project which could help me to find some sort of routine. I found a job and tried new things, so I can find out what I like, and here we are, on my blog and I love it.
If you want some more articles on how to feel better, here is one for negativity and the first one for finding your triggers. This book has so many more benefits also on how to declutter your life, setting goals, simplifying and so on.
What I am into right now:
Music: Noah Kahan – False Confidence
Book: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
Daily: being more in nature, learning more about myself, dancing and playing online games with friends like Scribbl.io.
Have a nice evening and stay safe, Annie ❤