You might need to calm down…


We humans have a way of looking for and focusing on all the things that are going wrong and dismissing what’s right. Our brains are like velcro for anything negative and teflon for anything positive. This problem-focused lens is designed to help you spot problems so you can take action to fix it, but if you don’t actively work to counter that bias by choosing to focus on the positive, it can lead to you feeling down.


Those sad feelings then also cause you to...


Retreat into yourself and disconnect from supportive people (your mind tells you things like, “I wouldn’t be very good company” or “I just need to spend a day under the doona”) which means you don’t have anyone to reality check your unbalanced thinking. If you’re not in charge of your thoughts, the negativity spiral grows deeper and wider until you’ve been swallowed into a vortex of gloom.

Because no-one likes to feel bad, you might use things like food or wine (or shopping or binge watching Netflix) to comfort or distract yourself. Those things give you a quick hit of dopamine to buffer you against feeling sad or stressed but they’re not very effective solutions in the long run. In fact, they can create even more problems (weight gain, poor sleep), and more reasons to feel bad, therefore you eat more ice-cream…  and you can see the vicious cycle at work here!

The solution is

First of all to shift your focus to what’s working.

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Your negativity bias will try to convince you of all the things that are going wrong when in fact there is usually plenty going right. Your brain needs to be exposed to more positive than negative if you want to move into an upward spiral, so your job is to actively seek out and focus on the things you love and appreciate, and to be fully present to the happy moments...

so they leave a lasting impression

on your mind.

Of course...

Sometimes things DO go wrong though and you may genuinely feel stressed or sad or frustrated with good reason. At those times, it’s important to show up and be fully present to how you feel so those emotions have a chance to be processed properly - and then they can leave you alone! The more you try to hide from the bad feelings by stuffing them down with food or numbing them with wine or cheering yourself up with shopping (or any other quick fix feel-good activity), the more you prolong your own suffering.


I’d encourage you to start practising being a little more mindful so you can catch yourself with those automatic negative thoughts show up so you can make a choice to let them go rather than buying into all the depressing stories you’re telling yourself. 

Learning mindfulness puts the power back in your hands to manage your mind and mood as well as your behaviour - so that rather than reaching for a packet of Tim Tams to soothe your uncomfortable feelings, you can make a choice to do something more helpful like call a friend or go for a walk.