In the evening, sometimes my brain decides it doesn’t just want a pint of Ben, Jerry’s, it also wants to rehash everything that didn’t go well during the day. It wants to critique an answer to an email that could,ve been written more thoughtfully. Or shame me for the way I looked on video during that fifth zoom meeting, clearly needing more under-eye concealer.
That inner critic can be brutal. And relentless. So, what can we do to quiet that belittling voice, quell those negative thoughts? Here are a few small-scale, practical tips.
1. When you find yourself fixated on what went wrong that day, shift your focus to what you got right instead. Ask yourself, “What went well today?” In fact, if you do this every night, you will rewire your brain to get out of that former bad habit and create a new, positive one. For more on rewriting your neural pathways, try reading Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself_ _by Joe Dispenza.
2. Try the five-minute pause moment. I refer to it that way because, admittedly, I have never been much of a meditator. It’s challenging for me to turn off my brain and just sit. Without thinking. About anything. Not going to happen for an extended period of time. However, I did find that I am capable of a five-minute break. I either put on a short, guided meditation (like those from Headspace for which you can customize the length) or some instrumental music and just breathe. For only five minutes. Literally. It works wonders to divert my thinking. And you don’t have to be a professional yogi to do it.
3. Call a peer mentor. (Yes, that’s right, call. You don’t need to FaceTime or video chat. Just talk.) That peer mentor could be anyone from a trusted co-worker to a close friend to a former colleague. Someone who holds you accountable when you are spiraling, helps you find the good in a situation and can reinforce positivity when you need it.
Photo credit: Photo by Marcus Winkler on Unsplash