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How to Get Out of a Negative Rut. Podcast Episode

Does your life ever get knocked sideways with a bout of negative thinking? Mine sure does! Today I want to share with you some of the tips and tricks that I use to make sure I don’t spiral down the “negative plug hole”.

Why Is it Important to Get Out of a Negative Thinking Rut?

It doesn’t matter what your goals are. Healthy eating, weight loss, healthy living. Even work related goals. A bout of negative thinking can lead to self sabotaging behaviour. It’s at these times that we give into emotional eating, throw in our exercise regime and become less productive at work.

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Me a Few Years Ago

A few years ago, I used to suffer with big bouts of negative thinking. I’d get frustrated with something. Then it would spiral out of control. I’d pay attention to all those negative thoughts in my head. What started with frustration at a small task would escalate into “my life is a disaster” and “I can’t do anything!”

Even worse, in an attempt to ask for help, I’d go and share my disaster with my husband. Not only did I sabotage my morning at work, I sabotaged his as well!

Over the years, I’ve learnt to manage my bouts of negative thinking. It’s not that they don’t ever turn up. It’s that when they do, I’m ready with my armoury of tools so that I don’t slip down the plug hole!

Me a Few Days Ago

Again, something small triggered a bout of negative thinking. Accompanied by a bout of negative emotions. I’m not sure whether I’d call it “despair”, “fear”, “despondency”. You get the idea. It was there in the middle of my chest.

Soon the negative thinking had infected my entire life. I’m a bad mum, an awful wife, my life is going nowhere. Does that ever happen to you?

Step 1 Recognise the Negative Thoughts and Emotions

There were several clues that I was slipping down the “negative plug hole”. I was busy ranting about things that weren’t going well to my husband.

“I think you’re just having a bad day,” he said. Which was a big fat clue right there.

Next I noticed myself getting more upset that normal with every day annoyances. Here in Spain it’s a daily occurrence to be nearly run over on the zebra crossings.

That day I found myself waving my arms in protest. Giving into emotions generally escalates them. Today I found myself giving into them.

I also saw myself getting upset with the kids.

There Are 3 Things You Can Do With Emotions

It sounds tempting to just ignore emotions that we don’t want. But life doesn’t work like that.

When we have big or negative emotions there are 3 things we can do:

  1. Give into emotions. Throw your toys out of the cot. Shout or scream. Acting from a place of anger (or whatever emotion) is giving into them.
  2. Distract ourselves from emotions. Distracting ourselves from big emotions can be a useful tool. But you need to be aware that you’re doing it. For example, eating can be a way of distracting yourself. Not great if you want to maintain healthy eating habits. Keeping yourself busy is another way of distracting yourself. The key is to be aware of what you’re doing. Keep checking in to see if the emotion is still there.
  3. Sit with the emotion. Be aware of it but don’t give into it. This can be difficult to do in reality.

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Step 2 Tools to Combat Negative Thinking

I have several tools that I use to help me not spiral down a negative thinking plug hole.

  1. Meditation and yoga help me focus my mind away from all those negative thoughts.
  2. Listening to music helps me feel the emotion without spiralling into the negative thoughts.
  3. Knitting is an example of an activity that uses the right side of your brain. One of those activities that you can do on automation to help relax yourself.
  4. Massage machine. I have a massage cushion that I love to help me relax.
  5. Go to bed early to make sure I’m well rested. Tiredness will add to my negative thoughts and emotions.

Step 3 Check in on the Negative Thoughts and Emotions

During the day and the next day, I check in on myself to see if the negative thinking and emotions are still there.

The next day, there’s still a remnant. Which means I could still spiral down if I don’t pay attention.

I do my “smiling walk” and some positive thinking until I realise the negative thinking and emotions have gone.

Step 4 Maintain Self Care

When you’re out of the grips of a negative rut, it’s important to maintain self care. This looks different for different people but the 4 pillars are the same.

  1. Nutrition
  2. Exercise
  3. Sleep
  4. Emotional wellness

New Me Challenge

If you’d like some help with making changes, why not come and join my 5 Day New Me Mindset Challenge? Find out more here: https://www.drorlena.com/new-me

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Dr Orlena Author Bio

Dr Orlena is a health coach. She helps busy mums go from "I can't lose weight" to feeling fit and fabulous. Find out more about her here.

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