Earlier this week, I wrote about thought spirals, what they look like, and what we can do about them. Thought spirals can be tricky to deal with, but there are ways we can try and manage them. I’ve dealt with many thought spirals over the years, and these are some of the most effective ways I’ve found of slowing my brain down and getting back to center:
Acknowledge what is happening to you. Name the fact that your thoughts are spiraling. This might not sound like a big deal, but there is tremendous power in being able to define something, to name it or to understand what something is called. This is especially relevant when it comes to mental health, because we as a society haven’t always had healthy ways to define our experience, which lead to further stigmatization. If it feels like your thoughts are spiraling, it’s good to admit that. You might not be able to solve the problem in the moment, but knowing what something is can make it less intimidating.
Control your breathing (make sure it’s steady – check on your physical self in this moment). The link between mental health and physical health is a very real one, and our physical health can absolutely be impacted by mental health challenges. I know for myself, anxiety manifests itself physically, which means that an anxiety attack can sometimes impact my body as much as my brain. A good way to find some semblance of control is to regulate your breathing. Whether that’s taking a few deep breaths spending more time to find your breath, getting back to level is a great way to calm your brain down.
Ground yourself. Though this might sound similar to controlled breathing (and they are certainly linked), grounding yourself is much different. Thought spirals can lead to getting lost in our minds, which might mean we’re less in tune with what’s around us. Finding ways to ground yourself (here are some tips!) and remember who you are, where you are and what’s around you can help slow down that thought spiral.
Challenge one of the thoughts you’re having. A thought spiral can create a lot of different irrational thoughts, ones that can build on each other and make things overwhelming. But if we can isolate one of these thoughts and challenge it, we can try to lessen the impact of this domino effect. Challenge one of these thoughts by asking questions like is this true? Why do I think this is true? Attacking illogical thoughts with rational logic is good way that I slow down when my thoughts are getting out of hand.
Get someone else’s perspective. Mental health challenges feel isolating. Oftentimes, people think they’re the only person in the world who feels the way they feel. That can make someone feel helpless or hopeless, and makes it more of a challenge to reach out. Getting someone’s perspective can be invaluable, and can be a big help in many ways.
Now, over to you! What are some things you do when you’re dealing with a thought spiral? Is there anything you do that’s effective when dealing with a thought spiral? Let me know in the comments!