Yes, we are in the middle of a pandemic.
Yes, people are sick and dying.
Yes, there is a lot of fear and anxiety for each of us on a personal level and rippling through the collective.
Our brains, in the presence of fear and anxiety, like to present us with a multitude of worst-case scenarios to spin out over.
This is its job! Our brain tries to keep us safe by presenting us with all of the ways in which things can go wrong.
And this can feel completely crippling. It can stop us from taking the actions that we need to take to help ourselves and our communities at this difficult time.
I’d like to share a methodology to manage your mind during stressful times so that we can pull ourselves out of the spiral. We don’t need to live there in our minds.
Here’s the methodology that I like to use for managing my mind:
1. Do a thought download. This means do some free-writing for 5-10 minutes. Get allllll of those thoughts that you’re having out of your head and down on paper. Don’t edit yourself. Don’t even worry about if it makes sense, reads as full sentences etc.
2. Reread your thought download. Underline any thoughts that stick out to you. Trust your gut on this. You’ll know the ones that you need to underline.
3. Take one of the underlined thoughts and ask yourself why this thought is coming up. Keep asking yourself why until there are no more layers to peel back. Usually, it takes about 5 why’s to get to the bottom of a thought. This is your root cause analysis.
4. Apply thought work to that root thought. This can help you understand what feelings are coming up around the thought, and how those feelings are driving the actions you take and the results that you have in your life. Some of the methods of thought work that I use are The Model developed by Brooke Castillo or The Work by Byron Katie.
* The goal of thought work isn’t to avoid feeling your feelings. It’s important to process whatever’s coming up for you so that you can powerfully move forward with a thought or reframe that will serve you and change your outcomes.
By doing thought work, we can stop ourselves from living into the spiral that our brain offers us, especially during stressful times.