10 Simple Strategies To Stop Sinking Into Negative Thoughts On A Rough Day
By Rachael Taylor
Believe it or not, I'm writing this today while slowing sinking into a cold. I'm not dead yet (as the famous Monty Python knight shouted) but I know my body well enough to see the writing on the wall.
The problem is, I’m a multi-passionate business owner and I've got plans! I love working with my clients and firing up my creativity each and every day, but when I don't feel good I find that my mind starts to lower its guard.
All of a sudden, negative thoughts that are usually easy for me to swat away are bombarding my brain and twisting my mindset far away from its norm.
That's when I realized there was no better time to talk about how to not let your mind sink into negative thoughts on a rough day as I fight the good fight this very moment.
As someone who has been battling chronic fatigue and pain since teenage years, negative thoughts and their power are no stranger to me. I've been studying the power of the mind and applying different mindset strategies for years with the intention of mastering my reactions, and choosing what my mind focuses on each and every day.
There are days when it's easy to stay connected to the positive, but I find that on rough days I'm most tempted to sink into negative thoughts. I've also found that these are critical days for my mindset and the same goes for you too. Mastering your mindset on the rough days is how you grow stronger and get to the next level.
If we're not careful, one negative thought allowed to run free on a rough day will turn into two days, then three days and before we know it, an entire week will go by and we've been completely derailed from the original plan.
At that point, negativity evolves into self-disappointment for not following through on and the shame spiral starts.
I know we all feel this; I'm just saying it out loud. There's nothing worse than being disappointed in yourself. Some of us with perfectionist tendencies may feel this stronger than others, but for women in business I've found that many of us share a level of frustration turned inward for not being "farther along" or "doing less than scheduled".
We are experts at beating ourselves up and unless we master our mindset, will spend our life centered on what's wrong in our life and stay in the same place - frustrated, disappointed and fueled with criticism.
I'm not interested in having that be my life or my story and since you're reading this, then I know that neither are you.
Therefore, I'd like to teach you several different strategies that help me stop sinking into negative thoughts on a rough day. It's in the rough days, when we stand our ground and take command of our thoughts and actions where the transformation happens and the magic lies.
Keep in mind that any of these strategies that I'm teaching you can be customized for your needs and adjusted when needed. I recommend you invest time into all ten strategies in the beginning and over the next 30 days see which ones’ work well for you. Choose your winners and go conquer your negative thoughts from there.
1. 24/7 + 360 Calendar Reminder
At the top of the digital calendar I use I have a long banner with the sentence or mantra I'm currently working on committing to heart and getting down in my belief system. This sentence does vary and evolve depending on what I'm going through, but it always remains at the top of my calendar. I usually make it a different color to catch my eye and I practice saying it out loud several times every day. On rough days when I feel myself sinking into negative thoughts, I make sure that I read it out loud until I sense a change in my attitude and body language. Our mind needs the repetition to break out of the negative cycle and replace old beliefs with new ones.
2. Start The Day Right
Start every morning with a simple sentence, "Something good is going to happen to me today and something good is going happen through me today." Even if you're already deep into negative thoughts, this sentence shows the universe and your mind that you are choosing to look for good throughout the day despite your circumstances. Rising above negativity starts with choosing to rise above it. I say this phrase in bed before I get up or in the shower every single morning before my mind has a chance to fill up with clutter and criticism. It gets harder as the day goes on as life gets more complicated or messy, choosing what kind of day you're going to have before it all starts has more power than you think.
3. Word Adjustments
Your words have incredible power and while we can't control the topic of the several hundred thousand thoughts in our mind, we can use the words we say to change what our thoughts focus on. The more you practice this, the better you'll get at it - you only have to start. It's simple, when you have a negative thought about your ability, business, potential or circumstance, say out loud "Nope, that's not my story. I'm shutting that down and choosing to believe that I have everything I need within me to overcome this problem and reach my goal." By physically saying it out loud and repeating phrases like this, you will adjust your thoughts and stop sinking in negativity.
4. Automated Assistance
Similar to the digital calendar phrase are something I like to call anchors - physical and automated reminders that are constantly in place to help reprogram my mindset and snap me out of negative thinking. For me, I use phone alerts with little messages to encourage and lift me up. I vary between calendar events with reminders and phone alerts, but I always have at least one in place. I do this because I can't anticipate when I'm going to have a rough day and keeping out negative thoughts will become more challenging. By automating these alerts, I create pattern interrupts that remind me to snap out of my funk and get back on track.
5. Gathering Inspiration
I absolutely love looking at things and people that inspire me, it helps widen my view and increases what I believe is possible for my future. On days when I'm starting to sink into negative thoughts, I turn to podcasts that I know will encourage me and I open up Pinterest to find stories and quotes that I can connect with. I can learn through many different mediums, but my favorite will always be reading - listening is a close second - so scrolling through Pinterest isn't a time waste for me. I use it not only to find adorable pictures of animals and fun decorating ideas, but also to focus my mind and build myself up on those rough days. It's a built in cheerleader that I can access at any point throughout the day.
6. Take a Shower
There's something to be said about taking time for yourself and letting a shower be a place of serenity, not only a place to get clean. On days that are rough and your fighting off mental attacks from criticism, use the time you spend in the shower to slow everything down. It almost becomes a very informal meditation, you can focus to the water on your skin, the sound it makes, how controlling your breathing to get water on your face can calm you down. The best part is you're not adding stress to your day by giving yourself more to do, you're simply using an existing activity in a different way.
Stress has a tendency to live in our bodies and cause tension. This tension is only adding to the mental strain you face on a rough day and can make stopping negative thoughts harder than it needs to be. I find that when my body doesn't feel good, I naturally don't feel good in my mindset. Stretching is the simplest way to move stress out and invite peace in - receiving a positive benefit from this only requires you to spend 10 minutes on it. That may sound like a long time, but I promise it's not. Just even pausing what you're doing (like reading this) and closing your eyes to stretch your neck from side to side will help you. If you do nothing else, start there and build upon the stretches you do as you create the habit.
8. Up Your Cozy Factor
There's something to be said about feeling cozy, warm and comfortable that soothes the soul and relaxes the mind. When you're having a rough day, wear something that gives you that special comfort feeling that nothing else gives you. If you have a job where a strict dress code is enforced, switch into your comfy gear when you get home. For me, I have special fuzzy socks that keep my feet warm and allow me to go about my day without feeling cold, uncomfortable or stiff. Increasing your personal cozy feeling could be anything from a full outfit to a simple accessory - it could also be wearing something that makes you feel powerful and bold when negative thoughts start running through your mind. It doesn't matter what makes you feel cozy, the important thing is that it gives you that feeling.
9. Find Laughter
Laughter really is the best medicine and can quickly turn around a rough day. Your laughter can come from anywhere - a book, friend, movie, television show, article, funny pages, cartoons, etc. By letting yourself laugh and feel something other than negativity about your circumstance, you're giving your mind a much needed break from being under all that stress. You can stop yourself from sinking deep into negative thoughts by allowing yourself to find happiness and joy, even in tough times. My partner naturally makes me laugh, but I'll also turn to a funny television show or much-loved book to switch my thoughts over to something else. Sometimes, something as simple as taking a break can be the very thing you need to stop sinking.
10. Food As Fuel
Keep in mind that food is our body's natural fuel - without it, we cannot function and operate at our best. When that happens, our minds become more susceptible to giving into negative thoughts and sinking fast. On rough days, don't forget to feed yourself but watch out for sugar and simple carbohydrate cravings in the form of bread, caffeine, alcohol and dairy. When our body is stressed, it works to find the fastest and simplest solution to feeling better - sugar. The problem is, our blood sugar (energy levels) will bounce up and down all day from spiking from a sugar high and then crashing a few hours later. By making sure you're eating protein and vegetables, you can curb cravings and keep your mind and body balanced with food.
Remember, running a business and finding your entrepreneurial feet may seem hard, but you've got what it takes. You wouldn't have the dream if you couldn't reach it.
It is going to require growth, it may be uncomfortable and it most definitely will feel scary some times, but that's not going to stop you.
Keep reaching and growing for your dream. After all as a baby, walking was hard for you. Trying to ride a bike, memorizing your multiplication table in grade school or learning to drive a car was all something you initially didn't know how to do, but you mastered.
In fact, you learned how to do all of it and then some! Business is the same way.
Right now it may seem scary and hard, perhaps bigger than you, but please believe me when I say that you are the one who's bigger. You are on this path for a reason and you’re doing a great job, keep up the amazing work.
The next time you find yourself sinking into negative thoughts, use these strategies to reset your mindset and have a mental guardrail against criticism and anything else that threatens to stop you and your big business vision.
Remember, being an entrepreneur is a big adventure with limitless possibilities and potential but it requires you to grow, be bold and pull on courage to stand up to what’s in your way. Growing to a new level may not be comfortable, but it’s always worth it.
You have this dream for a reason and it’s the perfect time for you to chase it! Enjoy the journey and trust the process.
From one entrepreneur to another…