This weekend I was faced with some information that brought me down to a negative state of mind. In order to overcome this mental funk, I utilized various strategies known to create a rapid mental state change. As I reflected on this past week, I thought that perhaps others could utilize this knowledge for their benefit as well.
When I am talking about a rapid mental state change, what I mean is what you need to do to break your mind out of its negative state. We all have those moments, when we just can’t seem to break out of a negative loop. Sometimes we use a lifeline, call a friend, work out, whatever it might be, that we use as coping skills. But what happens if you can’t access these normal coping skills of yours? This is where it may help to have the knowledge to rapidly shift your state of mind, by shifting your mood.
Here is a list of individual methods I’ve personally used to overcome deep mental funks quite quickly. Some are my own, some I learned professionally through my training. While you can use some or all, each is meant to work independently, but ultimately, when it comes to changing your mood from one of despair to happiness, sometimes whatever it takes is perfect.
1. Jumping In
This is a technique I learned from NLP and one I use often, especially when I need an instant mood changer. It’s incredibly powerful when used properly. For this to work, you first need to stand in an area where you have a little room to maneuver, about 3-5 feet. Then tense all your muscles as hard as you can, from your feet to your eyes. Clench your teeth too.
Hold this for 30 seconds or so, while you imagine a time in your life when you were really happy. Allow yourself to remember what that happiness felt like, and make sure you can imagine yourself clearly in your mind’s eye. Once you can do all this, jump into the scene, literally jumping into the space of the ‘happy you’ and releasing all that bodily tension.
The shift in your mental state will be immediate.
2. Mood Music
Once you can feel the onset of the mental downgrade, you need to grab your iPod, phone or whatever it is you play music on and pop in some headphones. Have a go to song that you can use that will pull your mind out of its current state. Music has long held a respectable place in therapy. From ancient tribal drumming, to singing bowls, sound has a long track record of causing positive state changes in an individual. Pick a song that will uplift you.
The song will cause physiological changes within the body simply by the volume itself in your ears, but the mental processing required to focus on the song will break the mind of its constant negative chatter. Also, don’t think you’re limited to one song. If you’re a music lover, like I am, then have a playlist ready for times like this. The longer you can distance yourself with a distraction the better you’ll be in the long run. I use two songs: “Stuck in a Moment” by U2, and “My Way” by good old Frank Sinatra (I know I’m old school).
3. The Smile Photo
We all have that one ‘thing’ that makes us smile. Our proverbial snuggle blanket that we use to elicit warm and fuzzy feelings inside us. If you don’t think you have one, look at your Instagram feed and see what furry little animals or smiley babies dominate the screen.
Sometimes when we are in a negative mind spiral, we need to break the process, and introducing a positive visual stimulus distracts us long enough for our mind to skip that beat and we can pull it back on track. A photo of something you find adorable, a photo that always makes you smile will work for this. I recommend a physical photo, as it will create a further process for you to undertake and doesn’t have the same potential for negative side tracks as searching through your phone gallery might.
Be wary of using a lover for this, as anchoring that person to your happiness can have negative long term implications. Use a photo of something that elicits a positive mental state. It could be a cuddly kitten, a dog, your grandmother or grandfather. Perhaps a smiling baby or even exotic cars or nature scenes. Whatever you need to use.
4. Physical Factors
Sometimes a change in our environment can help change our mindsets as well. Physical environmental changes often force us to intake new stimulus which can override the mental frame we are in by forcing us to accept and process new information. By forcing our bodies into a new environment we can interrupt our thought cycles.
If you’re inside, go outside and take in fresh air. Go for a walk. Physical activity is another great way for your mind to be silenced. By engaging in physical activity you are creating a cascade of positive reactions in your body. A release of endorphins, serotonin, testosterone and other hormones that will help enhance your mental well being. The physical act itself, be it running, yoga or weight training, helps to connect your mind to your body. This can elicit a state of confidence which will help override negative mental states.
Another environmental trick I learned a little while ago is to rub ice cubes on your pulse points or chew on ice chips. The drastic temperature change can cause a shock-like reaction that shifts your focus.
5. The Metaphysical Shift
For those who walk the spiritual path and like to try and overcome their issues by introspective reflection, you need to adopt a mindset where the mental energy within you is not you. It’s a program, a virus of the mind that you inherited. It’s not YOU, but it is inside you. Take responsibility for adopting this mindset (let’s face it, you allowed it to happen) and realize that if you chose to have it inhabit your mind, you can simply choose to let it go.
For this, I often find it helpful to adopt a third person perspective of yourself. Step outside yourself and observe the feeling that’s in you. Realize you are simply experiencing it, that’s it’s not a part of you. Once you can make this distinction, work on clearing the negativity out with whatever means you have accessible to you.
The important point to remember in all this, is that using RMSC will not have a lasting effect if you don’t then reframe your mind to something positive. Changing the mental state is fairly easy, it’s keeping yourself in that new state that’s difficult to achieve.
The best way to do this quickly and easily is once you’ve broken the state of mind, you need to immediately reaffirm yourself with a positive self-affirmation. This is important as it will create a block in your mind that will inhibit the negative states from reforming. Think of it like this: each positive self-affirmation is like a small brick. The more bricks you can accumulate, the stronger your wall will become and the harder it will be for the negative states to return.
It won’t be easy, but armed with the above steps, you can now face your mental funks with a new tool kit.
Thank You. I Love You.