Understanding the psychology behind downward spiral
A downward spiral is defined as a situation where a series of negative thoughts, emotions, and actions continuously feed back into themselves, causing the situation to become progressively worse.
Downward spirals are often provoked by jumping to the worst-case conclusion. You make a beeline from a boss's critical e-mail right to "I'm going to be fired." Or a friend's failure to take your call as a sure sign she doesn't like you anymore.
How to Reverse a Downward Spiral
1. Be Aware – Just being aware that this is a downward spiral and that you are in it, can help you accept and label it as something else.
2. Find the Facts – Go through what is causing the negative emotions or thoughts to find out what is actually true, rather than the worst case scenario that you have thought it to be.
3. Write it Down – When you put your thoughts to paper, you will often see that the challenge is not as big as you make it out to be. It also helps seeing it from a ‘third-party’ perspective.
4. Shift Your Focus of Attention – Start by focusing on one positive thing every day like the hug of a family member, or that nice song you heard and bring that to the forefront rather than the negative emotion.
5. Be In the Present – Practice breathing and mindfulness to accept your challenges and be in the present rather than trying to push them away.
6. Manage Your Expectations – Ask yourself what part of the problem can you realistically do something about and what is outside of your control.
7. Keep an Emergency Relief Kit – Keep a few positive things handy like essential oils, a favourite t-shirt, a happy song, a journal, a snack that will instantly make you feel better.
8. Be Compassionate Towards Yourself – Remind yourself that not everything can be perfect and negative emotions are completely natural.
9. Increase your DOSE – Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin and Endorphins are happy chemicals. Activities like meditating, getting a massage, meditating, playing with a pet, socializing can increase these happy chemicals.
10. Exercise – Get out, get moving. Reduce the use of alcohol, sugar and caffeine.
11. Reach out for Help – Do not hesitate to seek professional help to overcome your overwhelming feelings.
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