Stop Negative Thinking with a Hair Band [Mental Health Tip]

Lately, I’ve been working on improving my mental health and addressing negative thoughts after experiencing an eruption of anxiety, depression, and occasional self-hatred. Unlike so many others, I had complete control over my life throughout the pandemic lockdown, and while everyone else was falling apart, I was thriving. But as life returned to normal, my mental health deteriorated. Returning to my pre-2020 life seemed terrifying, and my depression and anxiety reached new heights. Even the idea of leaving my house gave me minor panic attacks. I thought those feelings would fade as I adjusted, but they persisted, and in some ways, they got worse. I stopped exercising, I gained weight, and I wanted to sleep for weeks… I couldn’t stop the avalanche of negative thoughts.

I always have negative thoughts about myself, my body, my personality, and my word choices. There have been times when those thoughts influenced my state of mind all day, every day, even when I didn’t realize it was happening. But, if I was going to correct the negative thinking, I needed to acknowledge when those thoughts were happening. Negative thoughts are often detrimental, but some can be helpful; if I can’t recognize that the thought is happening, how can I thoughtfully decide if it should be rejected?

The strategy I use to help identify negative thinking has been around for a long time… because it works. The actual technique is simple: wrap a hair band or rubber band around your wrist and gently snap it when you are aware of a particular behavior you’re trying to change. For example, when I want to try something new but think, “I’m not good enough” or “I’m not smart enough,” I snap the band. I repeat the thought in my mind and ask a series of questions: 1) What triggered that thought? 2) Is the thought true? 3) If it’s true, is it useful?

There are instances when having negative thoughts can be useful. In the previous scenario, recognizing your lack of skill may save you from a potential accident if the activity is physically demanding and perhaps dangerous. But maybe if you work hard for the next few months and try again, you will be skilled enough to try.

Will the hair band or rubber band trick cure me of all negative thinking? No. Will it turn me into a ball of positive energy and light? No. Will it help me take a small step toward being a healthier individual? Absolutely! Try it for yourself. If you’re trying to quit a habit or change a behavior, wear the band and see if it helps you recognize the triggers and frequency of your habit or behavior. I hope it works as well for you as it has for me!

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