You know the difference between problem solving and never stopping to worry about something. You know how some annoying problem gets in your head and under your skin and just won’t go away. Whether it’s the house or the kids or the job, that upcoming test at school or an assignment at work, you just can’t stop worrying about it. You ruminate, which is a negative way of thinking that is common to both anxiety and depression. Ruminating takes a lot of mental energy but gets you nowhere, like revving your car’s engine while in neutral. It will, however, keep you from thinking clearly and solving your everyday problems effectively.
Negative thoughts can spiral out of control in your brain, resulting in situations that are badly confused and ridiculously muddled. Here are some natural stress relief ideas, suggested by mental health professionals, to help you break the cycle and to see your problems more clearly.
Talk to a Friend
Talking a problem over with a friend is a relatively easy fix. Simply thinking out loud, organizing your thoughts into actual words and sentences can make the problem much clearer, and another person can offer a completely different perspective. The feedback you’ll get from your friend will shed light on new possibilities, alternatives you hadn’t considered.
As you’re speaking about your problem something else happens, something very interesting; namely, externalizing leads to right-sizing. What seemed like a tremendous issue really wasn’t that terrible after all.
Most importantly, remember a problem shared is a problem cut in half.
Write it Down
Another way of doing much the same thing is writing those negative thoughts down on paper. That will help you organize and clarify the problem. Then when you read them back at some later time you’ll start to see solutions. Indeed, it’s good to take a break after writing them down. Sleep on it. Proper sleep is always good for you.
Now that you have a better understanding of you concerns and your problems are better elucidated, you’re ready to start developing a plan. There are several ways to prioritize what needs to get done next; here’s what the experts suggest:
- Time: What must get done right away? What can wait?
- Resources – Do you have the knowledge and resources to deal with it now? If not, there’s little point in worrying about it. However, you should think about acquiring that knowledge and those resources in the fullness of time. Some issues must be dealt with eventually.
- Control – Is the problem within your control? If not, nothing will be gained by agonizing over how to change or control it. Think of ways to manage it instead, and how to work with the problem.
These sorts of questions help you deal with the important things that are within your control, while allowing you to put other matters to one side for a while. It also highlights areas where a little more research and information would help. Now you have some realistic options, and no longer feel overwhelmed by trying to deal with everything before everything else.
Take a Break
It’s always useful to step back and try to see the big picture. Of course your problem is very important to you or it wouldn’t be causing so much angst. But think about what would really happen if you could stop worrying about it for just a little while. Would there be an immediate catastrophe? Probably not.
We rest after strenuous exercise so we can return with renewed vitality. Your head cluttered with problems needs a rest in much the same way. Return to your problem refreshed, most likely with a better mental image of your problem.