When it comes to treating an unwell mind, one of the greatest powers that we hold is the ability to redirect our thoughts and behavior. This is not a gift that comes naturally to many of us with mental illness. We have to train our minds to correct themselves when we start having unhealthy thoughts. Much like you would positively redirect a child who has made a wrong decision. We use kind words to ensure that the children can be successful in making the right decision – even though they are not making it currently. This redirection and sort of “being my own parent” has been an important and incredibly successful part of my recovery.
Our minds are literally our entire existence. If we can relearn negative mental habits by slowly correcting ourselves (and being incredibly patient), then we can ease our suffering
The idea behind this method is that with your thoughts, you create your own reality. Our minds are literally our entire existence. If we can relearn negative mental habits by slowly correcting ourselves (and being incredibly patient), then we can ease our suffering. Eventually, opening our minds to recovery by using what we can control to our advantage. If we can replace these bad habits with good habits (which is the best and one of the most effective ways of breaking a bad habit) than we regain some control over our existence little by little.
Here are 5 Ways to Redirect Your Mind –
1. Treat Yourself as a Friend
When we hear that our friends are being treated badly by others, no matter our own mental weaknesses, we stick up for them in whatever way we can. Sometimes it’s by confronting the person who offended them and other times it’s simply reassuring our friends that they are good people and deserve good things. When our friends speak negatively about themselves – we correct them by telling them how incredibly important they are to us. Being your own best friend means correcting yourself when your mind starts to attack your own sense of worth. It means looking at yourself in the mirror and staying, “Actually, no, I’m perfect the way I am and just who I need to be.” It’s telling yourself that you’re smart when you feel like you’ve disappointed yourself academically. Being your own best friend is one of the most positive things that you can do for yourself. When my mind starts to swirl down it’s negative spiral of self deprecation, I say to myself, “You are speaking about someone that you love.” Just to remind my inner monologue to be kind + thoughtful.
2. 4-4-4 Breathing
This breathing technique may seem simple and superfluous, but it’s actually an incredible tool to have in your self-care arsenal. Taking a few moments to do this breathing exercise can greatly impact the way you’re experiencing the world in that moment. Essentially, all you need to do is close your eyes then inhale through your nose and into your belly for 4 seconds – hold it for 4 seconds – and then exhale for 4 seconds. This is a form of Yoga Breathing or Pranayama and is actually taught to Navy Seals due to it’s effectiveness in lowering stress levels. So, whenever you feel yourself becoming a the will of your anxiety or stress – remember this practice. Save the GIF above to your smart phone to use as a guide.
3. Zone Back In
“Zoning out” or more professionally + clinically named, Dissociating, is a common symptom of Depression, Anxiety, PTSD, ADHD, and other mental diagnoses. It’s primarily our minds way of protecting us from stressors and triggers. So, at it’s core – dissociating is our mind putting up it’s defenses to shield us from danger. Unfortunately, it becomes a habit of the brain to remove itself and those who suffer from dissociation often find themselves doing it in safe situations that should be enjoyable and felt fully. Instead, they’re felt feeling numb to the joy around them and apart from reality – unable to focus on conversation or tasks. Grounding techniques are often useful when these spells happen. “Grounding” is a term used for the experience of reconnecting with your body. Some Grounding exercise can be as easy as using your 5 senses to touch, see, smell, taste, or hear the environment around you. Typically exercises involving touch are the most effective. Another way of “zoning back in” with ground techniques is speaking facts out loud about yourself. “My name is Megan. I am 25 years old. I live in North Carolina.” “I own a business. I have a cat.” Affirming your existence and what makes you, you can bring you back down into your body where you need to be.
4. Speaking Your Wellness Into Being
We often underestimate how powerful our words are. How telling ourselves affirmations out loud like, “I am well.” “I am thriving.” “I am on my way to success”, can empower us with the confidence we need to make it through the day. I’ve always been a fan of the phrase, “Fake it, ’till you make it.” Not that you shouldn’t be real with people or yourself with your issues, but there’s something enduring and healing to me about the idea of living the life you want even before you have it. You will have the life you want and it’s eventually going to be yours for the taking. So until then, speak it into existence. Empower yourself with positive verbal affirmations – even if you don’t believe them yet! With time, you’ll realize that these affirmations have been redesigning the world around you.
5. Do Small Activities that Bring Happiness.
Whether it’s dancing and singing while you make your breakfast or watching your favorite movie, do things that bring you joy. No matter how small, studies show that even complimenting someone else on their personality or appearance makes us feel better. Being kind makes us happy. Doing activities that naturally increase serotonin can provide us with little redirections when we need it. Getting outside for at least 30 minutes a day is also a vital part in increasing serotonin levels. If getting outside isn’t possible, consider investing in a light therapy lamp. One of the most important things you can do for serotonin production is getting your gut in good shape as the majority of it is produced in the digestive tract. One study showed that even “liking” someone’s instagram photos can give us a little boost.
These are just a few ways that I redirect myself and create the world around me. I’ll be doing another post soon about ways to change your diet to treat your mind and reviews on supplements that have worked for me. All of these things may sound really silly at first, but when they become habitual and start to replace your bad habits, your reality can make major positive changes.