Solitude is difficult especially when it doesn't feel like a choice.
In addition to being constantly inundated by both the threat of Covid-19 and the amount of grief surrounding the topic, while in quarantine, sometimes the biggest threat to our peace is our own thoughts and the quiet that comes with isolation. We're all spending more time alone and though it seems like a great time to disconnect with people and things while reconnecting with the self, it is easy to get overwhelmed by our thoughts, memories and emotions. In our mindfulness practice today, we're going to discuss the topic of thought stopping.
What do you do when those negative thoughts creep in? Maybe those thoughts aren't exactly negative. Maybe your thoughts are consumed with the idea that you must produce something even during this time of crisis (we'll discuss this later). Or maybe you're simply an extrovert overwhelmed by the silence and lack of human interaction. What is your body's natural response?
Thought stopping helps us to control those thoughts, reframe and change the narrative. Essentially, this practice involves you taking action to disrupt negative thoughts. It encourages you to create some sort of positive distraction or mentally stimulating interruption of those thoughts. How do we do that? I'm glad you asked! Follow the five steps below:
1. Meditate: Take time to quiet the mind. Focus on your breathing and the natural rhythms of your body (your heartbeat).
2. Grounding: Refocus your mind by bringing into awareness 5 things that you can see, 4 things that you can hear, 3 things that you can feel, 2 things that you can smell, and 1 thing that you can taste.
3. Categorizing: This requires your brain to focus on something entirely different from what you were focused on before. For a moment, give yourself a task like thinking of a food that is assigned with each letter of the alphabet or thinking of animals that live in a zoo. Basically, play Concentration (do you remember that game?) with yourself.
4. Talk to Someone: It's okay! Whether that be your therapist or a friend that you trust, question those thoughts by communicating with someone who can either negate it to help you realize the truth or face your thoughts in a way that is safe and protective of your mental and emotional health.
5. Verbal Interruption: I can't be the only one that talks out loud to myself. I just can't be! Say out loud to yourself "stop!". Yell, if need be. Sometimes our brains can appreciate the verbal declaration of our needs.
What methods do you use to refocus?