As someone who regularly suffers with depressive episodes that seem to stretch on for months, I’ve learned a thing or two about having to dig myself out of a hole and reset my mind.
Cultivating a positive mindset doesn’t mean that you’re always jumping for joy, but it can help you deal with problems, mental health related or otherwise, that pop up along the way.
Positive thinking and performing what I call a ‘mindset reset’ is crucial to clawing my mental health back after a depressive episode.
Here’s how I usually do it.
How to reset your mind
It’s important to note here that I’m only speaking from personal experience and what works for me may not work for you.
Therefore, seeking professional help is a must.
Find what works for YOU and keep doing it.
#1. Practise regular self-care
Practising regular self-care is so important for resetting your mood and mind. However, it’s the first thing we put on the backburner when we’re feeling depressed.
Self-care doesn’t have to be extravagant or expensive. Just make sure you’re taking care of your personal hygiene, eating regular meals, sleeping and getting exercise.
When your needs are being met, you feel infinitely better and more positive.
#2. Set goals and intentions
Having goals is great but in order to really reset yourself, plan out HOW you’re going to achieve them. Put a detailed plan of action in place and break it down into logical, actionable steps.
Set clear intentions and plot out how you’re going to fulfil them.
Be intentional with your planning and firm with yourself.
Having goals that you can actually SEE yourself achieving is really motivational and can keep you going in even the darkest times.
I set five-early, yearly, monthly and weekly goals and break them all into actionable steps.
Other activities you can do to help fulfil your intentions and reach your goals are:
- Visualisation (visualising a scene from a goal I want to achieve as if I’ve already achieved it)
- Scripting (writing a scene from my ultimate goal as if it’s already happened)
In my workbook and course combo, Master Your Mindset With Journaling, goal-setting is one of the key points I teach, as this is massive for motivation.
#3. Practise positive thinking… even if you have to fake it ’til you make it
Positive thinking doesn’t happen overnight. Nor does it come naturally to most people. It takes practice.
However, it’s excellent at resetting your mind.
Ever heard of the phrase ‘fake it until you make it’? Well, this applies when it comes to resetting your mindset from a person who automatically assumes a negative outcome or thinks negatively, to someone who thinks positively.
Obviously, I’m not telling you to just fake a smile and hide your true feelings when you’re not feeling as positive as you’d like – that can be damaging (I’ll go over working through negative emotions in a minute). However, when it comes to a situation you’d usually feel negatively about – say the outcome of a job interview – try to recognise those feelings, take stock, and turn them around.
Practise redirecting negative thoughts and unnecessary overthinking whenever they pop up.
Self-awareness is key here.
Using the job interview example: If your mind automatically pushes you to think you haven’t got it, that you did rubbish and they hated you, try to be objective and rational. Correct yourself.
Instead, think: “I did my best in that interview and the interviewers will recognise that. If I don’t get it, it’s because I wasn’t suited to the role, not because I’m rubbish, and there’s another job more suited to me around the corner!”
In time, though it may feel uncomfortable and unnatural at first, your brain will start to automatically think much more positively.
You’re basically rewiring your thought patterns and that takes time.
#4. Tackle problems head-on and practise shadow work
Instead of ignoring your feelings, try tackling them head-on. Take responsibility for your own outcome.
In Mark Manson’s best-selling book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving F**k, the self-help author theorises that true happiness in life comes from encountering obstacles and problems, and OVERCOMING THEM.
Not burying your head in the sand and pushing negative emotions deep down inside of you.
If you never experience and overcome hardship because you’ve spent your life avoiding it, how would you even know what happiness feels like?
Instead of burying your head in the sand, tackle your problems as they arise. Get past them, learn and grow. See them as obstacles on the way to further success, since problems teach you valuable lessons along the way, and the more problems you have to tackle, the more successful you’ll be.
Your shadow side is the side of you that usually developed during childhood that you want to hide.
Your shadow self might be angry, anxious, or negative.
Whenever this side of you rears its head, your instinct is to push it deep down inside of you. However, by doing this, we’re not dealing with the problem, we’re only causing it to fester in silence.
By allowing negative emotions to flow through us, we learn how to deal with them and embrace them as part of ourselves. When we start to truly accept ourselves, warts and all, we become much more positive overall and you may even find these ‘negative’ qualities begin to lessen.
Shadow work can include meditation, writing poetry, art therapy, journaling – anything that helps us be a little bit more self-aware and a lot less judgemental of the emotions that essentially help make us human.
Forgive yourself for feeling this way and be kind.
It’s important that you allow these negative feelings to flow THROUGH you and that you don’t dwell on them. You do this by being grateful for them – perhaps they allow you to write some kick-arse music.
Pour them into something that helps you express yourself and embrace what makes you, you.
#5. Take a social media break
Social media can be super-toxic and harmful for our self-esteem and mental health.
Remember, most people only show you a highlight reel of their life. They only show you their wins, not their losses. You only see them looking amazing in pictures taken from their best angles.
What you don’t see is these influencers lying in bed, puffy eyed and depressed when their period’s due.
You don’t see them being rejected by a brand for a deal they really wanted to clinch.
You don’t see when an investment doesn’t pay off.
Or when they wind up in the emergency room because they’ve been to 10 events in seven days with little to no food or sleep.
Keep this in mind when you’re scrolling through Instagram.
If you need to, unfollow people who directly or indirectly damage your mental health and take a break from social media altogether until you’ve regained some perspective.
#6. Talk to yourself like you would a child
We as human beings need to stop being so bloody cruel to ourselves.
Sometimes, I think about the way I used to speak to myself inside my own head and realise that it was worse than anything any bully had ever said to me. I was downright NASTY to myself. And it all came so easily to me – it was how I automatically spoke to myself.
Try to talk to yourself as you would a child. Honest but not cruel. Respectful and kind.
Be self-aware. Ask yourself:
- Have I eaten enough today?
- Am I getting enough sleep?
- When did I take a self-care day last?
- Am I burning myself out?
- Have I been taking enough rest from the gym?
- Have I spoken to another human being today?
- Have I showered?
- Have I moved my body in a way that feels good in the last few days?
- Have I been outside in the fresh air?
- Have I taken my medication?
- Have I done anything I enjoy recently?
- Do I need to book an extra appointment with my therapist?
Go down the list and try to see if there might be an indicator of why your mind is in such an awful place.
Then, rectify what you can.
Stretch, call a friend, brush your teeth, watch a funny movie. Anything to dig yourself out of that hole even an inch.
#7. Ditch the booze
I know you don’t want to hear it, but alcohol seriously affects our mental health.
It can cause depression and anxiety, which ensure your motivation, mood and mindset take a major hit.
For those of us who suffer with depression and anxiety, alcohol is the enemy. It took me 30 years to finally come to terms with this and do something about it.
As of October 2020, I’m officially completely sober and my mind has NEVER been in a better place.
#8. Cut out toxic people and enforce boundaries
Cutting out toxic people who drag you down is a method of self-care in and of itself.
Having toxic, negative people around us can be soul destroying. Especially if you’re trying to be positive and reset your mind.
It’s like if you’re trying to give up smoking and someone in your life is always sitting next to you, blowing smoke in your face.
Both are totally toxic and both people should be cut out of your life.
If this isn’t possible – say, they’re a close family member – establish firm boundaries regarding what you will and won’t put up with. If they start talking negatively, walk away or switch off.
Try not to add fuel to the fire by acknowledging their negativity or confronting them aggressively.
Once they learn that you won’t engage in their negative talk, hopefully, they’ll either change their ways (doubtful) or they’ll stay away.
At the very least, you’ll know which types of people you DON’T want to associate with in future.
#9. Get get in touch with nature
Going for a nice, long walk in nature is one of my absolute favourite things to do.
Sometimes I’ll listen to music or podcasts, but usually I’ll just listen to the birds, the sound of my shoes on the pavement or dirt, the far-off chatter of people going about their days.
It’s honestly one of the best things I can recommend for your mood and mind.
#10. Practise positive habits
Positive habits, such as getting up earlier, are amazing for your mindset. Likewise, so is stopping negative habits.
Forming good habits isn’t easy. You have to actively work at them. But it’s possible!
My favourite positive habits for resetting my mind or even resetting my DAY are:
- Positive affirmations
Try to do these every single day so that they become habits – they’re so helpful for your mindset.
#11. Move your body, reset your mind
Moving your body is crucial for your mood and mind. It’s honestly amazing.
Sometimes, the only thing that will make me get out of bed is yoga.
Not only is it a healthy, positive habit, it helps the release of endorphins in your body, which can counteract a lot of negative feelings.
It’s important that you find a way to move your body and exercise that YOU genuinely enjoy.
#12. Practise gratitude
Practise being grateful for what you’ve got. Appreciate it.
Just because you have goals that you haven’t yet achieved, doesn’t mean to say that you’ve not already achieved goals.
I can’t tell you what practising gratitude for just a few minutes everyday can do for your mindset – even though it does feel a bit ‘woo woo’ at first.
It prompts you to think about the positive things in your life, focus on them, write affirmations and appreciate your life for what it is.
In Master Your Mindset With Journaling, which helps you transform your mindset through journaling, I have a whole lesson dedicated to practising gratitude in your journal – that’s how important it is.
If you want to find out more about how to improve your mindset simply through journaling, you can check it out here.