Five Ways to Manage Thought Spirals

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!

Getting Out of My Head

Some days I wish I could get out of my head. I don’t always know what I mean when I say that, but the sentiment is there. It feels like I live most of my life inside my head and every so often, I want to burst out. I’m sure actually doing so isn’t as dramatic as all that, but it feels like it would be. Being ‘inside your head’ is a fancy synonym for overthinking a moment or situation but when you do it often, it feels like it’s just the way you experience things. After quickly retreating inward for many weeks, I’d like to try getting out of my head, and here’s why.

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The Impact of Anxiety on Our Physical Health

Living with Generalized Anxiety Disorder has taught me so many things about myself. I’ve learned what some of my tendencies are, as well as what habits I fall into when it comes to coping mechanisms. I’ve learned about my triggers, what overstimulates me and what makes me anxious. But over the past few years, I’ve started focusing on other things connected to my anxiety. My GAD has always impacted my physical health, but it wasn’t something I often reflected on. Like other mental health disorders, anxiety can affect our physical health. Here’s how it impacts mine!

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Helpful Resources During Suicide Prevention Month 2022

CW: This post discusses suicide and suicide awareness.

Last week was the beginning of Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. This month is extremely important because it’s a chance to have honest, open discussions about suicide and suicide prevention. More so, it’s a good time to share resources for those who may need them, as well as people who are looking for information to distribute this month. These are resources that I’ve found in recent years, and I’m re-upping them to give people as many resources as possible.

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Metaphors for Mental Health: Lifting Weights

A couple of weeks ago, I started doing some weight training exercises for the first time in at least a few years. Lifting weights is something I’ve done on and off for years, but I’d fallen away from it for some time. But one day, kind of randomly, I went into the gym and headed for the weights. After the first session, my body was sore in places I’d forgotten I could be sore in, and these new exercises taught me a valuable lesson in how we can help ourselves adjust to things, not only physically, but mentally as well.

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Are We Really Talking About Mental Health?

I am tired. Tired of a lot of things, but today I’m sharing one specific reason I’m tired. I’m tired of seeing mental illness get weaponized. Tired of seeing mental health being brought up in bad faith, in harmful, disingenuous and shameful ways that undo the work people have put in for decades to shrink the stigma surrounding mental health. And because I’m bouncing back between rage and sadness (which is just what it is right now) over this and have been for sometime, I just want to express those feelings today, because they need to get out.

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Five Things I Do When I’m Not Feeling Like Myself

Earlier this week, I wrote about what I do when I’m feeling restless or “off.” I think this self-awareness is important for everyone who is trying to understand themselves in a better way. Getting to know yourself is a lifelong journey, and there are many chances to get to know ourselves in a better way, almost daily. I mentioned that there are some things I try to do when I’m not quite feeling like myself, so I wanted to share them today as a chance for reflection, and hopefully some inspiration to anyone aspiring to do the same!

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If We Know There’s a Stigma, Why Is It Still Here?

When it comes to mental health, one of the things that is discussed a lot is stigma. The stigma surrounding mental health and mental illness comes up a lot in this space, and it’s something that can become impossible to ignore. But as much as people bring it up when we talk about mental health, the stigma continues to exist and cause harm to people who experience mental illness or other mental health challenges. So today I want to answer the question: if we know a stigma exists, why is it still here?

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Closing Out Mental Health Awareness Month 2022

Every year when I reach the end of Mental Health Awareness Month, I try to reflect. I reflect on mental health in the state of my community, my city and my country, and I wonder if anything has happened this month that could lead to substantial change. This year, I have to say I’m a little discouraged. I know I’m usually a little more positive about mental health awareness, but after this month it seems like we have so much of it backwards. That’s why, to close out this month, I want to share why talking about mental health – the right way – is more important now than ever.

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Learning How To Take Time

I’ll be honest, friends: I’m tired. Physically, mentally, emotionally, I am exhausted. And I know I’ve said it before on this blog (and I’m sure I’ll say it again), but the world can really wear me down. It seems like every single week, something happens in the world that makes me sad, angry, upset or hopeless. And that’s without introducing anything from own life into the mix! While I haven’t really figured out how to handle these new challenges, I know what it starts with: taking time for what I need.

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