Switching off on time off
Our time off work is very precious. It can be difficult to slow the brain after a long intense day. In an overstimulated brain, our negative mental filter can go into overdrive as we rehash the day’s events, often thinking about what we forgot to do or what we must do tomorrow.
Unless we are seeking solutions, it is usually a fruitless exercise to let our minds dwell on the same dysfunctional thoughts over and over again.
Here are some examples of common negative thinking patterns:
Black and white thinking supposes that things are either awful or perfect. For example, we may focus on one career as a goal, discounting all other options and predisposing ourselves to feeling like a failure if our ‘only’ choice happens to not eventuate. It can be more helpful to think about shades of grey and to try to become aware of the feelings and thoughts in between the extremes.
Common negative over-generalisations are thoughts such as ‘Things always go wrong’, ‘Everyone at work is against me’, ‘No-one understands how I feel’. The evidence for these unhelpful thoughts needs to be challenged. It may help to simply be a little kinder to ourselves: ‘I had a bad day, but tomorrow will be better’, ‘Work has been stressful for everyone recently but I’ll try not to take things so personally’, or ‘Talking about how I feel to like-minded colleagues will help me feel better’.
Mind-reading involves making assumptions about what someone else thinks of us or believes about us. The evidence for such assumptions needs to be questioned, for example, ‘How do I know this?’, ‘How can I be sure?’, ‘Could my colleague have something else on their mind?’
Making mountains out of molehills is a catastrophic way of thinking. For example ‘It will be awful/terrible/horrible’, ‘I can’t stand it anymore’. A more helpful approach may be to ask how these statements make us feel and to try to come up with another way of thinking like: ‘Yes, it will be difﬁcult, but I have got through such things before and I will try to do my best’.