Tuesday, January 17th, 2017
The holidays are long gone and the days spent cosying up by the fire seem like a distant memory. Two weeks have passed and it may feel like you should be back in the swing of things - ready to take 2017 by the horns.
However, you might feel like you're struggling to find motivation, and that the return to the grind is making life feel like Groundhog Day. You may also find yourself slipping back into negative thought patterns that you had temporarily managed to escape over the holidays.
This isn't surprising! As if working life weren't enough to fire up stress, London life seems to exacerbate it. Long commutes in a packed tube, the feeling that you have no time for yourself and the impression that everyone is super successful can't be helping you to stay upbeat...
In times like these, it's easy to forget that changing your mindset and beliefs can really help to make you feel much better. Remember, there must have been a reason why you chose to live in London at one point, and there must also have been a reason why you chose your job (if not - maybe time to look for a new job/city?).
The first steps to improving mental wellbeing are to recognise your thought patterns and to learn to not engage with negative thoughts. This might sound abstract and difficult to implement, but the exercises below will really help. As with everything, you will need to repeat these exercises on a regular basis in order to train your mind - but even a little every day will make a huge difference. Making these exercises a habit also means that you are more likely to revert to them in times of crisis, rather than feeling lost and not knowing how to feel better.
1. Understand how worrying works
– It often feels like worries come from the outside and that you have no control over them. However, the reality is that worries may be triggered by external events, but it is your internal dialogue that keeps them running.
– We often focus on the "what if" of different scenarios, which only creates more worries. Understanding that your mind is creating this "worry spiral" is key to putting things into perspective.
2. Make a list of negative thoughts
– List each of your negative thoughts and consider whether you can do something about them. If the answer is yes, write down actions that you will take to address it. If the answer is no, let it go and agree to come back to it at a designated time-slot, and only for a limited amount of time
– Writing your thoughts on paper will not only help to let them go, but will also give you some perspective on them.
3. Recognise thought distortions
– Just because you believe something, it doesn't mean it's true! When a negative thought comes up, ask yourself whether you are distorting it in any of the following ways:
Black and white thinking (i.e. believing there is no in-between way of seeing things)
Personalising (i.e. believing you are to blame for something)
Filter thinking (i.e. only seeing the negative side of a story)
Catastrophic thinking (i.e. assuming the worst possible outcome)
Doing this will give you perspective and train your mind to re-frame your thinking.
4. Do something you love
– Make sure that you are doing something other than commuting from home to work and back. Find an activity which fulfils you and stick to it. Whatever it is make sure you do it regularly.
– This really helps to channel your energy away from stressors and into something that makes you happy - you will see results immediately!
5. Dig a little deeper
– Have you noticed that your negative thoughts come and go? You are more likely to have negative thoughts if you are not feeling good about yourself or are discouraged by something. This demonstrates that feeling negative about your body is something more connected to your emotional state than to reality.
– As yourself the question: How am I feeling? Do you feel like you're not good enough? Has someone made you feel inadequate? The moment you understand what the issue is, you can start doing something about it.
Want more tips? Check them out here
Margot is the founder of YourMind, a platform created with the belief that everyone should have tools and help to look after their mental wellbeing and become the best version of themselves. On YourMind, you can speak to high quality therapists via Skype at affordable rates, wherever you want. You can also find easy, friendly and effective tips for your mental well-being.