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How to Train Your Brain To Stop Overthinking

Overthinking may be something you want to train your brain to stop doing, especially if it causes problems for you. For example, does your overthinking lead to a negative mood or increase your level of anxiety? Does it stop you from doing things that you need to get done? Are you procrastinating making a decision because you want to weigh all of the possible outcomes?

Overthinking can have negative consequences for those who are chronic worriers. Focusing on future uncertainties makes us anxious when we feel a lack of control. Overthinking can also keep us from enjoying the present moment. Let’s explore ways to train your brain to stop overthinking and start appreciating what is here for us in the now.

Researchers at the University of California at Santa Barbara showed images of kaleidoscope colors to study participants and then tested their ability to remember if they had seen an image before. Participants who took their best guess at the memory test did better than those who spent time trying to remember colors and patterns. The overthinkers focused their brain power on recalling the visual information that they were presented with did less well than those who did not focus their attention on remembering details.

The researchers say that this study shows ‘why paying attention can be a distraction and affect performance outcomes.’ The area of the brain in our prefrontal cortex that is active when we pay attention is the dorsolateral area. Participants with less prefrontal cortex stimulation during the test remembered the images better. In other words, paying more attention to details actually hurt their ability to remember what they had seen.

TRAIN YOUR BRAIN TO STOP OVERTHINKING AND SEE THE BIG PICTURE

The research shows that a more broad overview approach may be better for recalling complex images. To train your brain to process information this way, try to imagine taking in all of the details at once, as if your brain is taking a photo and seeing all of the pieces of information at once.

You can practice underthinking by finding a picture book, opening to a random page and looking at an image for 5 seconds. Close the book and try to recall everything that you saw. The short amount of time prevents your brain from overthinking, but you will be surprised at how much you can recall. Try this repeatedly until you feel more confident in your brain’s ability to process information quickly.

TRAIN YOUR BRAIN TO BE COMFORTABLE WITH UNCERTAINTY

There are things you can know, and things you may never know. Overthinkers have trained their brains to focus on the uncertainties because they are trying to solve them. For an overthinker, their brain is like that of a two year old constantly seeking answers. Although some questions can be answered, overthinkers may tend to dwell on those that can’t.

Or at least they think they can’t be answered, for example ‘What could they possibly have meant when they said that’ could be easily answered by asking the person to clarify their meaning. ‘I wonder what they think of me’ could be answered by asking the person whose opinion you are overthinking. Either seek the answer to the question that you are overthinking, or tell your brain that you’ll have to be okay with not knowing the answer.

TRAIN YOUR BRAIN TO OBSERVE YOUR NEGATIVE SELF-THINKING

Meta-thinking is thinking about how you think, which requires some self-observation. If you’re reading this article and have concerns about your overthinking, you are already aware of your own unproductive thinking patterns. People who experience distress about overthinking usually have negative thoughts about themselves because of their thoughts.

Allowing negative thoughts to exist while rejecting them as being part of what we identify as ‘self’ is part of a technique that can help overthinkers. Researchers in the journal Behavior Therapy found that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) helped people to feel more self-compassion rather than negative emotions about their overthinking. People who went through MBCT therapy experienced less stress associated with their thoughts.

FIND ONE THING YOU CAN CONTROL

If overthinking is happening because you need to gain control over a situation, then find one concrete action step that you can do to gain back some sense of control. For example, writing down the problem is simple and it allows your brain to stop trying to remember the issue. Then identify one more thing you can do that will be a step in the right direction, for example, making a phone call to get more information.



REFERENCES:
HTTP://THEMINDUNLEASHED.COM/2014/09/8-WAYS-STOP-THINKING-FIND-PEACE.HTML
UC SANTA BARBARA
HTTP://WWW.NEWS.UCSB.EDU/2013/013593/OVERTHINKING-CAN-BE-DETRIMENTAL-HUMAN-PERFORMANCE
MINDFULNESS
HTTPS://WWW.INFONA.PL/RESOURCE/BWMETA1.ELEMENT.ELSEVIER-8BD302D8-2A24-3686-9CFC-C75269D9138D

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8 Mental Habits That Suck Happiness From Your Life

There are different personality traits people possess which pretty much map out how their lives unfold. Each of you have developed certain habits and emotional masks that determine how you deal with your life and the people in it. You may not even notice it, but certain habits have the ability to keep you happy while the others can make you downright miserable. Here are 8 habits that can suck happiness out of your life.

1. Not Forgiving Yourself

Let’s face it, everyone has regrets. You are allowed to feel guilty about certain life choices you have made, the blunders you committed, the promises you have broken, and the lies you have told. Nobody is perfect and no one is completely free of regrets. But that doesn’t mean you have to be entangled in your regrets forever. Everyone makes mistakes. Cut yourself some slack, learn to forgive yourself.

2. Holding On To Grudges

People are bound to hurt you in life. Sometimes what they have done is so bad that it leaves a permanent scar. It is not easy to forgive certain people or forget how much pain they have caused you. But forgiveness is a factor that often decides how you move on with your life. Grudges tie you down, weigh down your soul, and prevent you from embracing happiness. Forgiving someone does not negate the fact that they hurt you, it just means that you are free from feeling chained to that particular incident.

3. Not Being Grateful

This isn’t just about saying “thank you” without even giving it a second thought; it is about practicing gratitude. Do not waste your time and energy seething about why you didn’t get a table at your favorite restaurant on a busy Saturday night, or because the waiter brought your regular fries instead of sweet potato fries. Be grateful that you are lucky enough to afford going to a restaurant or that you have people to wait on you. Never stop telling yourself how better off you are compared to so many others.

4. Thinking In Extremes

When something good happens you are ecstatic, and when things don’t go the way you want, you immediately sink into deep blues. This can reflect upon the way you connect with people too- if you love someone you are ready to die for them, and if you hate someone you want to see them suffer at any cost. This is a behavior that can never do you any good. Learn to balance things out. Try to find a silver lining, no matter how bad the situation is or how much a person sucks. Nothing good comes out of extreme negativity. Similarly try not to go overboard when you are happy- this does not mean you have to undermine your happiness, just that you should keep things a bit low key instead of throwing confetti for every good thing that happens in your life.

5. Following Double Standards

Sometimes you are quick to judge certain people and adamant about sticking to your judgment no matter what they do. Chances are that you have placed high standards for others that you yourself don’t even follow. There are also times when the person you hate the most is actually very much like you. Hypocrisy is something that can eat you from the inside, making you feel miserable. Try not to keep double standards, it will only make you feel like a fraud.

6. Putting Everything And Everyone In The Same Slot

Stop yourself from generalizing everything and everyone. All men aren’t the same. All women aren’t the same either. Not everyone who asks for your help is trying to con you. No, you will not fail at everything. And all your choices aren’t bad. True that people and situations disappoint you from time to time. But this does not mean things never change- learn to take risks, and some things and certain people will eventually turn around.

7. Believing Things Are Out Of Your Hand

You often feel that life is never under your control. It ‘s a fact that you can never plan your life too much, but that does not mean you can’t change it’s course. You may feel you don’t have the reins in your hand, though it has been within your reach all along. All you have to do is grab hold of your life and direct it the way you want to go. It might not always work in your favor, but you will never know until you try.

8. Thinking Someone Will Eventually Make You Happy

A common mistake committed by many is that they depend on others for happiness. Yes, humans are social beings, and we do need human company to be happy. But does not mean the key to your happiness is in the hands of someone else. Life is too short. It has no time for selfish friends, negligent partners, or judgmental relatives. It is up to you to save your ass and keep yourself happy.

Apr 21, 2017    by CureJoy Editorial
 


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Fun Fact Friday

  • The world’s quietest room is so quiet it can give you hallucinations. No one has been able to stay in the room longer than 45 minutes.
  • Pumpkin is not a vegetable, scientifically it is a berry.
  • You have a second brain in your gut, called the Enteric Nervous System. This is where the term ‘gut feeling’ comes from.

  • The human brain isn’t fully functional for learning until after 10 AM, science has proved that schools begin way too early.
  • Being in a negative relationship can weaken your immune system.
  • Over thinking can cause hair loss.
  • What you wear has an effect on how you behave.
Happy Friday  🙂
source:       factualfacts.com       https://twitter.com/Fact       @Fact


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13 Incredibly Smart Tips To Be Happier From Mental Health Experts

Genius tips from people whose job it is to make you feel better.

It’s pretty safe to assume that you want to be happy, because…well, who doesn’t? But how to actually make that happen is a little more elusive. BuzzFeed Life talked to a bunch of experts to get their best tips.

Of course, everyone brings their own set of experiences to the table and some people might be living with mental illnesses like depression or anxiety that make things more complicated. But hopefully you might be able to find a few pieces of advice here that can help life feel a little easier.
Heads up: Responses were edited for length.

1. Realize that happiness doesn’t mean having everything you want and being problem-free all the time.

“We cannot control everything that happens to us in life, but we can choose how we respond. When we respond with an attitude of ‘Why is this happening to me?’ and adopt a victim mentality, we suffer. When we choose to respond with an attitude of ‘Why is this happening for me and what can I learn?’ then we feel a lot more empowered, which impacts our mental state positively.

The biggest misconception about happiness is that we can outsource it — that something external is going to make us happy. Happiness is NOT a constant state. As humans we experience and grow through a variety of emotions. The expectation that we should be happy all the time will leave anyone with an expectation hangover. What we can be is grateful.”

—Christine Hassler, empowerment coach and author of Expectation Hangover: Overcoming Disappointment in Work, Love, and Life

2. Cut “should” from your vocabulary, because it basically guarantees whatever you think “should” happen, won’t.

“When we use the word ‘should,’ it’s like this big, judgmental finger wagging at yourself. ‘I should work out more, I should be happier, I should be more grateful.’ It causes us to feel guilt and shame. It depletes our happiness. It causes us to engage in behaviors that are completely against what we want.
Instead, replace ‘should’ with ‘I would like.’ For example, ‘I’d like to lose weight, because I want to have more energy and be a role model.’ That is more motivational, it’s more based on passion rather than the fear and judgment of ourselves that prevents us from being the people that we want to be.”

—Elizabeth Lombardo, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and author of Better Than Perfect: 7 Strategies to Crush Your Inner Critic and Create a Life You Love

3. Remember that your negative thoughts are not true. They’re just thoughts.

“Sadly, many people make the mistake of believing the negative things that their ‘inner voice’ tells them, often without even being aware of their right to question whether these things are accurate! When it comes to mental health care, many people still think you will need to spend years exploring your childhood or past in order to get better. That’s simply not the case nowadays. Catch, challenge, and change negative thoughts.”

—Simon Rego, Psy.D., director of psychology training at Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York

4. Start your day by reminding yourself one positive thing about your life.

“This can be a small observation like enjoying beautiful weather or something more profound like recognizing you have achieved one step towards a life goal (working in the industry you always dreamt of, have a best friend who you are grateful for, etc). We tend to hold onto negatives a lot stronger than positives so this can be a small way to give yourself a moment to check in with the ‘happier’ thoughts and realities.”

—Jess Allen, LMSW, ACT, NYC-based cognitive behavioral therapist

5. Anyone can benefit from therapy, so consider making an appointment for a checkup.

“There is a stereotype that many people have about the unique person who chooses to see a therapist. ‘They must be an emotional wreck,’ or ‘they can’t take care of their own problems,’ or ‘they must be crazy.’ That last one is probably the most popular and worst misconception of them all!
It takes a lot of insight and emotional awareness to realize that you want to enlist the services of a trained mental health therapist to get the right help you need. Yes, there are some clients who seek therapy when they are at the absolute lowest emotional point in their lives, but there are also just as many who simply want to become emotionally healthier people to enhance their work and intimate relationships. No problem is too small or large when you come to see one of us. It’s all welcomed because our job is to meet you where you are at in life, not where we or anyone else thinks you should be.”

—Gabriela Parra, LCSW, California-based counselor

work-life-balance

 

6. Don’t think about your work responsibilities at home, and vice versa.

“Be present when present, which requires dropping the guilt. Guilt has no benefits for anyone. When you are at work, stay focused, when you are home, give [it] your undivided attention. Doing your best in each place will keep you sane and feeling good about your output.”

—Samantha Ettus, work-life balance expert

7. Stop checking your smartphone randomly. Instead, give yourself specific times to catch up on social media and email.

“Most people would be happier (and less stressed) if they checked their phone less. A study of college students at Kent State University found that people who check their phones frequently tend to experience higher levels of distress during their leisure time (when they intend to relax!).
Instead of willing ourselves to just check less often, we can configure our devices and work time so that we are tempted less often. The goal is to check email, social media, and messages on your phone just a few times a day — intentionally, not impulsively. Our devices are thus returned to their status as tools we use strategically — not slot machines that randomly demand our energy and attention.”

—Christine Carter, Ph.D., happiness expert at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center and author of The Sweet Spot: How to Find Your Groove at Home and Work

8. Make keeping up with your friendships a priority.

“People think that when work or school or family responsibilities get busy, then hanging out with your friends becomes a luxury that has to be cut. It’s often the first thing to go, even if people are still going to the gym or binge-watching whatever’s new on Netflix. In reality, making sure to spend time with your friends has enormous mental health benefits, and keeps your stress level in check. It’s a great coping mechanism and a necessity for your health that should not be cut when things get tough — on the contrary, you need it more then than ever.”

—Andrea Bonior, Ph.D, clinical psychologist

9. Actually take the time to plan short-term pleasure AND long-term goals — aka actively make your life what you want it to be.

Actually take the time to plan short-term pleasure AND long-term goals — aka actively make your life what you want it to be.

“A lot of people rush around without devoting a few minutes each week to reflecting and strategizing. We may all recognize we’ve periodically contemplated signing up to volunteer at Big Brother Big Sister, then totally forget. Or we mean to switch jobs and then procrastinate, [then] we’re facing our second year in a position we planned to quickly exit.
As Greg McKeown notes in his book, Essentialism, ‘When we don’t purposefully and deliberately choose where to focus our energies and times, other people — our bosses, our colleagues, our clients, and even our families — will choose for us, and before long we’ll have lost sight of everything that is meaningful and important.’
Spend time each week planning ahead — plan activities you may enjoy in the moment and also think bigger, considering what you want long term.”

—Jennifer Taitz, Psy.D., clinical psychologist

10. Treat yourself with compassion and lots of love.

“People believe that self-care is selfish, so they avoid doing things that are actually necessities. Self-love, self-care, and self-fulfillment. It’s a lot of self, because happiness starts from within. Self-love includes eliminating negative self-talk and accepting yourself, flaws and all. Self-care means setting boundaries and taking time to refill your energy. Self-fulfillment is all about living your values and having authentic relationships.”

—Rachel DeAlto, communications and relationship expert

11. Don’t forget that your physical health has an impact on your mental health, too.

“Some physical things you can do to create a habit of happiness:
—Honor your circadian rhythm by waking shortly after sunrise and going to sleep a few hours after sunset. Not only do we need seven to nine hours of sleep in order to be happy, but our brain functions better by sharing the rhythm of the sun.
—Incorporate play into your life: Some easy ways to this are when you exercise, do something that makes you laugh, like a dance class, jumping on a trampoline, or playing a group sport.
—Meditate. This can be as simple as an app [like] Headspace.”

—Jennifer Jones, Ph.D., clinical psychologist

12. Several times throughout your day, take a deep breath and tell yourself that everything is OK. Eventually, your brain will get the memo.

“The bills may be piling up with you having no idea of how they are going to get paid. Your mother may have Alzheimer’s, and dealing with that is wearing you out. You may be starting to wonder if there really is someone out there for you. BUT in this moment, your heart is beating, you’re breathing, and you have food in your tummy and a roof over your head. Underneath all the circumstances, desires, and wants, you’re OK. While fixing dinner, walking through the grocery store, driving to work, or reading emails, come into the present moment and remind your brain, ‘I’m all right, right now.’
Over time with repetition, learning to come into the present and calming your brain and body will actually change the neural pathways in your brain — a scientific truth called neuroplasticity — so that this becomes the norm for you.”

—Debbie Hampton, founder of The Best Brain Possible and author of Beat Depression and Anxiety By Changing Your Brain

13. Make a conscious effort to take care of your mental health the same way you would your physical health.

“Too many people neglect to make their mental health a priority! And so it gets forgotten about and put in the ‘too-hard’ or ‘too-busy.’ But just like physical health, mental health really should be considered non-negotiable because without it, we have nothing else.
If I had to limit the key ingredients to happiness and good mental health to just a few I’d say good quality relationships and connectedness, good physical health and well-being, living a life with meaning and purpose, loving oneself and others, and having a sense of hope and optimism for the future.”

—Timothy Sharp, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and author of 100 Ways To Happiness: A Guide for Busy People.

Jul. 9, 2015     Anna Borges     BuzzFeed Staff
 


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Fun Fact Friday

  • Studies show that the walking through a doorway causes memory lapses, which is why we walk into another room, only to forget why we did.
  • A man named Walter Summerford was struck by lightning 3 times in his life.  After his death, his gravestone was also struck. 
  • Long distance relationships are as satisfying as normal relationships in terms of communication, intimacy, and commitment, studies show. 
overthinking
  • Emotional pain lasts for 10 to 20 minutes, anything longer is actually self inflicted by over thinking, making things worse.
  • Just 20 minutes of exercise three days a week will increase your happiness by around 10 to 20% .
  • A sunflower is actually a cluster of hundreds of flowers.
  • Coffee is the second most traded commodity on Earth after oil.

 

Happy Friday  🙂
source:       factualfacts.com       https://twitter.com/Fact       @Fact


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Fun Fact Friday

Cats are afraid of water because their ancestors lived in an area 
with very few large bodies of water 
and never had to learn how to swim
 
If it takes less than five minutes to do, do it immediately …
your life will instantly become much more 
organized and productive
 
Music can repair brain damage and returns lost memories
 
Over thinking can cause hair loss

overthinking bald

 

4.8 billion people own mobile phones 
whereas only 4.2 billion own a toothbrush
 
Angry people produce more unique ideas faster
 than people in any other type of emotional state, 
according to a study
 
Mosquitoes have killed more humans 
than all the wars in history
 
Lonely people take longer, hotter showers or baths
 to replace the warmth they’re lacking socially or emotionally
 
Everyone has a song in their playlist 
which they always skip, but never delete
Happy Friday  🙂
source:       factualfacts.com       https://twitter.com/Fact       @Fact


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5 Ways to Stop Sabotaging Yourself

1. Give up dwelling on “If only…”

Most of us have goals, both big (go back to school and get a master’s degree) and small (pare down that pile of junk mail). What keeps us from meeting our goals? Why are some goals successfully achieved, while others remain on our to-do list, nagging us for months or even years at a time?

I’ve written before about how to set goals that are more likely to be met. And though a few tweaks to your goal-setting method can have an immense impact on your likelihood of meeting those goals, for many of us the problem lies not so much in the goals we set, but the ways we prevent ourselves from meeting them. You might have the most functional, realistic goals in the world, but if you engage in self-sabotage, then guess what? Your chance to meet a goal is gone before you even begin.

With my clients, I consistently see the same behaviors keeping them from taking action. These methods of self-sabotage can prevent them from getting where they want to be, fixing what they need to fix, and becoming the person they would love to be. You may know what you want and be pretty sure of the path you need to take to get it, but it’s not uncommon to be stuck in a rut of self-sabotage.

Do you recognize any of the following behaviors in yourself?

1. Dwelling on “If only….”

We all have regrets, whether they’re about something we did (if only I hadn’t dropped out of college), or something we didn’t do (if only I’d stood up for myself more in that relationship). Sometimes we play the “if only” game about things that we can’t control, but that we wish were different: If we had grown up with different parents, if we were more talented, if our partner could fundamentally change in some way.

These thoughts can follow us around for decades, and the problem with them is that they don’t lead to action. Repeatedly revisiting “if only” fantasies when they involve things we can’t do anything about keeps us idling in neutral. Given our lack of a time machine and the inability to overhaul people other than ourselves, continuing to indulge in these thoughts brings nothing but further frustration. These thoughts don’t spur action, inspiration, or problem-solving. And worst of all, dwelling on them keeps the same patterns going (ruminating on how you wasted your 20s socially may make you less likely to go out and seek good friendships in your 40s; dwelling on imperfect aspects of your partner builds resentment that makes your relationship worse).

Try turning “if only” into a different mindset altogether by accepting what’s done, but using this fact to influence your future actions. Such as, “X is this way, but Y can be that way” or “I can’t undo my past, but I can influence my future” or “I have learned something from X, which is Y—and here’s how I plan to use it to improve things.” Each of these is a new, more functional spin on the “if only” mindset.

2. Being afraid of your thoughts.

One of the easiest ways to ensure that a thought will have power over you is to try your hardest to suppress it. Sometimes we do this because our thoughts terrify us: “This is the third argument my fiancee and I have gotten in this week. What if it was the wrong choice to get engaged?” Or because we feel guilty about having them: “My coworker is just not pulling her weight on this project. But she’s a sweet person and a good friend so I shouldn’t rock the boat.”

When you suppress a thought, though, you have no chance to process it—to understand it, feel it, and perhaps eventually decide that it doesn’t make sense. Ironically, walking around afraid of what your brain has to say gives your thoughts far too much importance. This is a hallmark of people who struggle with obsessional thinking. These people are locked in a battle of trying desperately to get a sticky thought to go away, mainly because they’re so overly distressed by having it in the first place. But getting trapped in this battle doesn’t move you forward. Try not to think of a rhinoceros in a bikini, and bam—there she is, and she’s wearing quite a hot number!

The more you battle your thoughts, the more you deny yourself the opportunity to work through them, and the more you keep yourself locked in a negative pattern. Try acknowledging your thoughts and facing them, emphasizing that they are just thoughts, and labeling them as such. For example: “I’m having the thought that it was a mistake to get engaged. That’s probably because I’ve been stressed out. I don’t have to be afraid of this thought; it is human. I will get a bit more sleep, get over this bad week at work, and see if I feel differently. If I don’t, I’ll think things through further.”

feelings

 

3. Burying your feelings.

A close cousin to avoiding bothersome thoughts is trying to bury or mask feelings deemed unacceptable. Many people think that to fully acknowledge feelings means yelling obscenities in the grocery store, or hysterically wailing at their next staff meeting. But letting yourself feel things is not the same as unleashing emotions onto the world at large. In fact, you’ll be less likely to unleash feelings in inappropriate ways if you’ve actually acknowledged them and worked through them in the first place. Often times we bury feelings out of guilt: “I’m angry at my sister for making that comment about my weight. But she’s a sweet person and does so much for me. I have no right to nitpick.” Or fear: “If I let myself feel sad about my breakup, I’ll get so depressed I won’t even be able to function.”

But feelings, when hidden, grow bigger and bigger. And they are prone to corroding people from the inside out. Emotions don’t tend to go away on their own just because we try to keep them in. It’s similar to repeatedly slamming down a lid onto a pot of water that’s boiling over. You know that if you let the water get a little bit of air—set the lid so that it doesn’t completely cover the pot—you’ll soon get a calm, smooth boil instead of a frothy, rattling mess. Acknowledging your feelings doesn’t make them spin out of control, but putting the lid on them does.

4. Habitually starting tomorrow.

So, you’ve eaten a third sleeve of Girl Scout cookies before noon, or you’re completely frustrated that it’s three o’clock in the afternoon and you’ve gotten little work done. Many times, the natural reaction is to abandon the rest of the day and visualize the beautiful blank slate of tomorrow. But it’s never tomorrow. If you spend so much time saving until tomorrow, the habits you want to pick up and the changes you want to make will always be beyond your reach, because tomorrow is a constantly moving target.

If you are someone who must have a “clean slate” to get motivated, it need not be tomorrow. Why not have that clean slate start in one hour? Or fifteen minutes? This helps stop the surge of all or nothing thinking that can lead you to write off the rest of the day, getting you farther and farther from your goals. Even better, instead of arbitrarily declaring the slate clean because the calendar flipped over, create a true and meaningful clean slate through your behavior. Take a brisk walk. Do a brief meditation. Have a quick chat with a friend. Do some breathing exercises. Allow yourself five minutes of a video that makes you laugh. Each of these things can help reset your mind and your productivity much better than the vague “tomorrow,” which, when you think about it, is never actually here and never really puts you in the driver’s seat.

5. Letting inertia harm you rather than help you.

Inertia is fantastic when it’s on your side. If you pick up a healthy habit and maintain it for several weeks in a row—making coffee rather than buying it, taking the stairs rather than the elevator, sorting your emails as they come in—it becomes much easier to continue it. But too often, inertia applies to habits we don’t want to have, and activities that make us feel unproductive and unhealthy. This is the reason why the psychological clean slate discussed above can be so powerful. We desperately crave the ability to be free from the things we already view as tainted: A busted diet, a soured relationship, or a pattern of motivation-killing habits at work. We don’t want to salvage any of it. We want to start fresh because it’s a much more attractive option.

Here’s the thing: Just like in the physical world, we are prone to staying in motion—or in place—by this force of inertia, and no one can change it but ourselves. The calendar flipping to a new year, feelings of being “fed up,” new workout gear, or public promises can all (briefly) jumpstart new behaviors. But they don’t address the underlying inertia, which is truly needed to change long-term behavior. You must build the right day-to-day structure in order for new habits to take hold. Otherwise the inertia of the old habits never really goes away. Yes, those new workout pants are fabulous, but if your gym is still too far away or too incompatible with your work hours, then you haven’t done anything to address the inertia that prevents you from going to the gym. Focus not on the jumpstart, but on the overhauling of the battery to get inertia working for you, rather than against you.

by Andrea Bonior         May 10, 2016

Andrea Bonior, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist and speaker. She is the author of The Friendship Fix and an upcoming book about the psychology of everyday life (stay tuned!), and serves on the faculty of Georgetown University. Her mental health advice column Baggage Check has appeared in the Washington Post Express for more than eleven years. She speaks to audiences large and small about relationships, work-life balance, and motivation, and is a television commentator about mental health issues. Join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter!