First Aid when you are feeling low.

There are times when life catches us out, and our mood plummets. I’ve been thinking about some easy tips that can help deflect us from gloomy thoughts and low mood. I hope these three first-aid tips may help…

 
(1) Physiological control:
Stress is physical and its effects are actual physical consequence. Agitation, shallow breathing, raised pulse – the hormone adrenaline is flowing – and is physically felt.
 
Taking physiological control helps to calm, soothe, and slow down overthinking and racing thoughts, as well as pacify bodily systems hyped up by stress.
 
Breathe deeply and exhale shallow de-oxygenated air held in the lungs. Getting fresh air inside you will invigorate you. Ground yourself by naming and touching things around you, talk to yourself by naming what you can see and touch nearby, and even smell, if you have flowers or other aromatics nearby. This all deflects the mind — and as your mind can only deal with one thought at a time, intentional distractions shift the focus away from what was causing you stress and lessens their effect on you..
 
 
(2) Relate to someone
If you have a supportive partner, family member or friend, do tell them you are feeling low – they don’t need to know the details, only that you’re just feeling a bit low and would appreciate them being there for you, even for just a moment. Distractions through conversations also shift your focus away from stress. Everyone gets stressed out now and again, and everyone knows what it’s like. So, as we do far more for others we care about than we ever do for ourselves, just ask! Most will be grateful to you for calling on their support — even though your social anxiety may be sky-high and you may be reluctant to “burden” others; but the truth is that we like to be asked for help as it makes us feel valued, and gives us a shot of dopamine, the feel-good hormone.
 
Not convinced? A great way to “test” this is to try it out when you are NOT stressed. You can just say you’re feeling a bit down and could do with some support: nothing major, just a bit fed up — and see what happens. This is not to suggest trying it with everyone in the office! But trying it once or twice when you’re NOT feeling too deflated — or perhaps when you feel it might happen soon, and you may well be surprised just how supportive people can be. So when you really DO need help, you will know it’s literally there for the asking, rather than your inner critic telling you that you’re best not to bother anyone because no-one really cares.
(3) Regain your perspective: what has worked for you?
Do remember the words of Michael Montaigne: “My life has been full of misfortunes, most of which never happened.” If you can anticipate a worst-case scenario and know you can deal with that – you’ve massively empowered yourself. You KNOW you can cope. This deflects pressures and stresses from getting to you. Also, recall great moments in your life – really get fully back there to that fantastic time/joyful moment, and chest-bursting moment of pride. We’ve all had them, even though you may have forgotten! We don’t recall happy memories so much as re-create them. So make a conscious effort to recreate happier times. And, as you can only focus on one thought at a time, you take control and choose the thoughts you DO want to focus on, rather than the ones you don’t.
These aren’t intended as anything other than a “quick fix” to deflect those gloomy thoughts and deflated feelings. But hopefully they will give you ideas of practical steps you can take to move from thoughts controlling you, to you taking control of your thoughts.

Overthinking is over-rated

So much of our mental anguish seems to lead from overthinking and thoughts out of control. Can there be anything as troubling as the thoughts that take up residence in our heads and never leave?

Overthinking is particularly draining — going over the same issue again, and again, and again, and again… Why do we do this? If we lost our car keys and found them again after frisking ourselves a few times, and revisiting all the places we’d been to since leaving the car, we would never dream of repeating the search once the keys were safely to hand. So why would we spend time re-visiting thoughts that keep whirling around in our head? Do we imagine that we might somehow stumble on a detail that we have previously overlooked? Are we frenetically seeking a subtle omission? And supposing we indeed do find that missing element? How would we know? Chances are we’d look for something else as well.

Worry is not a friend. We might think that by being sensitive we’re keeping an important issue in the forefront of our mind. But show me someone who worries and I’ll bet your last Euro/dollar/pound/rouble that worry achieves nothing worth worrying about. We don’t trip over mountains. But little stones in the way seem to have a knack of destabilising us. Is that why worriers find it hard to get off to sleep? What better time for thoughts to race around in our heads when the lights and TV are switched off?

Do we think that we need to keep thinking because we need to keep thinking?

No. We need instead to stop thinking and let go. We also need to stop substituting analysing and planning for taking action: most of the time it’s far better to “ready, fire and then adjust the aim” rather than continually aiming. Doing is always better than thinking about wondering what we need to consider worrying about doing. But our minds often won’t let us let go. We revisit the past; we mentally stumble around in the future. One thing that perpetual overthinking seems to do is keep us locked into the past and the future, but rarely keep us focuses on the present. That’s thr power of uncertainty. Most of the time we let our thoughts do our thinking for us.

Why not learn how better to manage your thinking better and regain control?