5 steps for setting yourself up for a calmer day 1 week ago

5 steps for setting yourself up for a calmer day

In this extract from Dr. Rangan Chatterjee's Feel Better In 5, he talks about downloading - and how to set yourself up for a calmer day by releasing mental worries. 

It’s a healthy part of human nature to be able to vent to those around us, but this isn’t always possible with the fast-paced lives many of us now have.

I like to think of downloading as my free daily session of therapy. The idea behind it is that our minds are constantly brimming with thoughts, especially first thing in the morning, when we have all the stresses and anxieties about the coming day swirling around inside us.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee
Photo credit: Justine Stoddart

Most of the time, we just launch into our busy schedules without doing anything to get rid of these mental worries. Time and time again, I’ve found that simply spending just five minutes downloading them out of your brain can have a big impact on overall health.

Set yourself up for a calm day by working through these simple steps.

Some people prefer to do their downloading with a bit more structure. If this sounds like you, try to download by addressing the following five points on a blank sheet of paper.

1. One thing I’m anxious about today

Perhaps think about the issue that’s most dominant in the swirl of thoughts that’s going around in your head. You might also think about focusing on something that’s going to happen in the near future that’s bothering you.

2. One practical thing I can do to prevent or prepare for it

Not only is it usually a good idea to be proactive in dealing with our day-to-day anxieties, the act of doing something practical can in itself help make us feel better. Do you need to make sure you’ve worked out your route to a meeting in advance, so you’re not late? Do you need to prepare three points you absolutely must get across in a difficult conversation you’re going to have?

3. One reason it’s probably not going to be as bad as I fear

It’s very common for us to catastrophize about things. Our minds naturally try to prepare themselves for the worst-case scenario and we can easily start to believe that things are worse than they actually are. That difficult conversation is probably not going to end up with your being fired or your child running away. Even if you are a bit late for the meeting, nobody will really hold it against you. Try to foster a more realistic view of your problem by refusing to accept the worst-case scenario that your mind is trying to focus on.

4. One reason I know I can handle it

The chances are that, no matter what it is that’s concerning you, you’ve been through much worse before – and survived! Try to gain perspective by remembering how you tackled a similar event (or a harder one!) and got through it.

5. One upside of the situation

Things are very rarely entirely bad. Most dark clouds really do have a silver lining. What’s one upside of the problem that’s worrying you?