A focused break is a dual exercise that can help you change the direction of troubling or distressing thoughts. When you find your mind driving you a little crazy focusing on negative thoughts, you can benefit yourself by taking a break and focusing your mind in a different direction. The focused exercise is how to give yourself a break from whatever is stressing you out.
Although I did not come up with this idea/exercise myself, I have found it very useful through the years. And you can make it fun too. When you can give your mind something that you enjoy to focus upon, you have this little magical tool against the thoughts that are bringing you down. Just a small shift or change can turn your mind around to introduce some happy, peaceful, and joyful thoughts to help break the momentum.
Sometimes our minds get a lot of momentum going on with thoughts that can be upsetting. It can be difficult to turn around because it’s easy for one negative thought and worry to trigger another. The next thing you know, your mind has spiraled into an abyss of negativity. Stressful thoughts and worry can not only be very draining and depressing, but not good for internal bodily environment as well. If you find yourself battling negative thoughts and stressful thoughts often, it can be nice to have a few ideas/tools to help you shift them around.
You can do this focused break in many different ways, but the first one I want to introduce you to is a writing example. Sit down with a pen and paper, (or pencil, crayon, typewriter, or any type of writing apparatus you have available). You’re going to start a list of things you love. The goal is to get lost in the exercise, so do it in whatever way feels easiest and most natural for you, whether that means setting a timer or just taking advantage of a few free minutes as they come If you have a bigger window of time available, continue to write and list things you love until you feel relaxed, happy, and charged with more positive energy.
If you can, try to give it a good 10-15 minutes for starters. Don’t think too much about it, just start writing anything and everything that you can think of that you thoroughly enjoy and love. Keep it simple and keep it focused. It’s like a little rampage of positive things. This leads to more positive thoughts and a change of energy. Even if the exercise only lasts a few minutes, that small time frame can give you enough momentum for a break in the troubling thoughts and a shift to some positive ones. This helps improve your mood by possibly giving your mind a break long enough to get some better energy going.
Think of it like driving in a fast car going down the road and trouble is up ahead. You need to slow the car down to stop or turn around. It’s hard to turn a car going fast around unless you want to increase the odds of losing control of the car. Similar to changing the direction of a car with some momentum, you have to find ways to slow your mind down and give it enough “gas’ or energy to change directions.
As I write this, I can hear the song in my head playing by the Eagles: “Take it easy… Don’t let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy.” I think their lyrics mean a similar concept of how your mind can quickly take you down a road that isn’t always very helpful. Another way to change the momentum of your mind driving you crazy is to take it easy. This writing exercise is a nice way to take it easy for momentum change.
The next time you find yourself struggling with negative, troublesome, or worrisome thoughts, try this little jewel and see if it turns a few feelings around for you. I’ll give you a small example for you.
I love my family, my animals, my friends, my clients, the outdoors, my deck, my pool, massage, art/pottery class, the beach, pools, music, funny movies, wine, chocolate, cheese, bread, daisies, coloring, naps, tiki torches, campfires, sunshine, meditation, books, writing, deep breathing, walking, smiling, laughing, day dreaming, visualizing, helping, inspiring, gift giving, creating……… You are getting the picture. Now you go!