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Three Simple Steps to Chilling Out When You Are Having a Negative or Overwhelming Day


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“If you ask what is the single most important key to longevity, I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress and tension. And if you didn’t ask me, I’d still have to say it.”
George F. Burns

“Self-pity is easily the most destructive of the nonpharmaceutical narcotics; it is addictive, gives momentary pleasure and separates the victim from reality.”
John W. Gardner

Lately I have been very busy with working hard on the final part of my new course, Simplicity.

When you are busy like that at school or at work or just in life in general it’s very easy to from time to time fall into a couple of negative headspaces – such as victim thinking, feeling overwhelmed or just plain pessimistic – that make life and work more difficult.

In this post I’ll share how I usually to get myself out of such destructive inner places.

1. Releasing the stress.

Working out – I use free weight + body weight exercises – is my number one way to release stress and inner tension. If feel whiny or pessimistic then I put in maybe just 25 minutes of free weights as soon as I can (I have them at home so that makes is easier to get going with it).

That one step will most often work to feel stronger and better emotionally once again.

If that only works a bit I move one to…

2. Shift to a healthier perspective.

I usually do this one as the second step. But sometimes I use it as the first step and then I move on to or skip the exercise.

If I’m hung up on a smaller or medium sized detail or feel overwhelmed by something then I ask myself a question like:

Will this matter 5 years from now? This usually let’s me see that it doesn’t. Or that it is a very small deal in the long run.

If I fall into victim thinking I ask myself:

Does someone have it worse on the planet? Of course. So I should probably just chill out and snap out of the somewhat ridiculous, childish “poor, poor me” thoughts.

If I get irritated or angry at someone else then I ask myself:

How would I think and feel it if I were in his or her shoes? Putting myself in the other person’s shoes helps me to gain a more levelheaded mood and better perspective to solve a situation practically or to let it go. Instead of building a molehill into Mount Everest in my head.

If that doesn’t bring me fully around I move one to…

3. Focusing fully on rest.

I take a time out. I watch some fun comedies like the Simposons, the Office or Community and just laugh some time away. Or I lie down on the couch to read some fun or thrilling mystery novel.

And I do nothing more for maybe a half a hour or an hour. This is very important. I basically single-task and just focus on such relaxing – and for me fully absorbing – activities to 100%. This usually works wonders and lets me get back into the work with a relaxed and optimistic mindset again.

So find the activities that you get fully absorbed in – some sport, a walk, swimming perhaps or playing a video game – and take a fully focused break when needed.

Bonus tip: I remember to keep things extremely simple.

This one works when I get overwhelmed for example but is also one of my best tools to keep out of negative headspaces in the first place by focusing on what is helpful and nipping destructive thoughts patterns in the bud.

At the very top of a whiteboard on my wall I have written down: “Keep things extremely simple” (I also have this phrase as a desktop wallpaper on my laptop).

And whenever I feel I am making a thing bigger or more complicated than it is or I simply become confused or negative in some way I can look at the wall to help guide my thoughts back into a constructive and calm place.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Courtney May 15, 2011, 2:43 am

    When you are stressed, refocusing on what is truly important to you is at once both a great stress reliever and mood lifter. Give someone a hug. Go rub a dog’s belly. Take 10 seconds to just close your eyes and breathe.

  • Keith Cook May 20, 2011, 4:01 pm

    Thank you for sharing your insights and tips. I’m always learn something uplifting. One idea I’ve come up with is making a joy list. Listing all the things that bring me joy and adding at least one item a day. So whenever I get sad or frustrated, I can read over may joy list and reading all that positive reinforcement changes my mood. Thank you again.

  • Jennifer May 23, 2011, 7:10 pm

    The hard part is getting into a negative frame of mind when your at work. Most of us can’t nap, work out, or rest so it makes it hard. So a lot of times I just think to myself :
    1. This is only a feeling, it is not reality.
    2. This too shall pass.
    3. Find one small thing to look forward to.
    4. Know that I’m not alone.

  • Geraldine June 16, 2011, 6:29 pm

    Henrik, I shared a link to this excellent post, over at my new happy break blog:

    http://www.takeahappybreak.com/2011/06/for-days-when-you-wish-there-really-was.html

    I found this so helpful, I wanted to share it with my readers too.

    thank you so much! G