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Keep your clear-thinking mind on-line during these potentially emotionally distressing times

Workplace Wellbeing Trainer, Jo Flack explains how we can help keep our clear-thinking mind on-line during these potentially emotionally distressing times.

During these unnerving times of self-isolation and concern about our own and our loved ones’ safety, we are no doubt all finding it is harder to meet our emotional needs. But we are all equipped with the innate resources to help us get our needs well met even in times of adversity. And one of these resources is a rational mind, a higher thinking brain that can help us to plan, analyse and check out our feelings. But in this time, when emotions are likely to be running high, it can be a real challenge to stay thinking clearly. When we are emotionally overwhelmed, our ability to think rationally suffers. Our higher thinking brain get’s ‘hi-jacked’ by our emotional brain and reduces our thinking to ‘black and white’ where there are no shades of grey, In other words, our thinking becomes narrowed, focused inwards and pessimistic instead of being broad, open and exploratory.

This ‘black and white’ thinking that is caused by emotional ‘hi-jacking’ expresses itself in 3 ways: through pervasive thinking, that’s the one that goes ‘everything is wrong’; through permanent thinking i.e. ‘nothing is ever going to change’; and through personalised thinking such as ‘I am useless.’

When looking at these statements you can see how disempowering and essentially unhelpful they are. We need to do what we can to lower strong emotions so that we can access our rational thinking resource and see, for example, that maybe some things are ok, that change will come and that, even if I think I’m useless, that doesn’t make it true because thoughts are not facts – especially thoughts that have been narrowed by high emotions.

So how can we help keep our clear-thinking mind on-line during these potentially emotionally distressing times? The key is to lower our emotional arousal by taking measures to calm ourselves down. Once we are calm our thinking will become clearer and we can utilise the full power of our rational thinking resource to get our needs met.

Top tips to try:

  • Use your rational mind to plan ahead which will help give you a sense of security and feel more in control.
  • Shift your thinking from the frustration of the things we are not able to do during this time of social distancing to looking forward to the future. You could have a go at creating a ‘post lock-down’ jar and filling it with rainbow coloured notes of all the people and things you want to see and do after lock down. Then once this whole situation is over​, you can pick out the notes one at a time and do them. It will help give you something to look forward to.
  • Challenge worrying thoughts by telling yourself you are doing the best you can in the situation you are in.
  • Find ways to lower stress, as this will not only help you think more clearly but will help keep your immune system at its best so it is more efficient at fighting off infection.
  • Finally, if you find yourself in the grip of ‘black and white’ thinking – relax, calm down and remind yourself that you have the innate resources to help you meet your needs.


Author: Kristina Brinkley

Posted on: 30th April 2020

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