We’ve all been there and we will all be there again at some point. Our mindset will shift into a dark period of negativity where we feel as if Life is conspiring against us and nothing is going in our favor. It feels as if we’re mentally stuck and can’t get out of our own way.
When that time comes, we can go down one of two paths. The first path is to continue the spiral of negativity, which often manifests in the following ways:
Persistent negative self-talk using absolutes:
This always happens to me.
I never have any luck.
Nothing is going right these days.
Coping/escaping with things that don’t serve you well long-term:
Low energy and constant fatigue
Consistent negative mood
Lack of motivation and purpose
Spiralling down the path of negativity is obviously not where you want to be. Now, before we get into the second path, let me say that I am not a psychologist, psychotherapist, social worker or hypnotist. What I do have is personal experience helping myself and others pull themselves out of a prolonged funk and get back on track. Here are a few simple strategies to get “unstuck” that I believe can work for you:
TRAIN. This is where you should start in my humble opinion. Do not overthink this. Grab your gear and head straight to the gym. Once you are there, commit the next 45-60 minutes to training with intensity. The body part and exercises are up to you. All I suggest is that you strength train for 40-45 minutes. After you’re finished, I guarantee you will feel better than you did when you walked into the gym. Science supports this as well. Training influences the release of “feel good” hormones such as dopamine and serotonin, which will help to improve your mental state.
CREATE A HAPPY LIST. As hokey as this sounds, it works. I suggest doing this shortly after your workout, while your mental state is still high. Using a low-tech pen and a sheet of paper, write out as many things as possible that bring you joy and happiness. This list is personal to you, so don’t think about anyone reading it and/or judging you. Take as much time as you need and try to fill up the sheet of paper with as many things that bring you joy as possible. As you are writing, take a moment to be aware of your emotions and mindset. You may be surprised to find that the simple act of writing out what makes you happy, will make you happy. And when you are happy, you’ll find it easier to think creatively and find a solution to getting unstuck.
ACT. Review your happy list and choose something that brings you joy. It could be playing with your kids, reading, laughing with friends, or playing video games. Whatever you choose doesn’t matter. Choosing and taking action is the point. Don’t think anymore. Do.
Notice that all three strategies have less to do with thinking and much more to do with action. Thinking often gets us into trouble and can be the source of our problems in the first place. The next time you hit a mental plateau and are starting down the path of negativity, default to the three strategies above. Stop thinking and start doing.