Post #71 Three Steps for Healthy Mental Hygiene
Our brains experience approximately 40,000 – 60,000 thoughts in a day. These thoughts can range from excellent to self-destructive and everything in between. Have you ever considered managing many of your daily thoughts? Read the three steps outlined here so you can practice healthy mental hygiene.
Extract your Thoughts
Step 1 involves setting aside a minimum of 10 minutes after obtaining a fresh piece of paper and a dependable writing utensil. Typing on a screen is okay, but I recommend writing by hand. This practice can be done daily, weekly or whatever fits best with your schedule. Write the date and the time at the top of the paper. You will then start writing any and all thoughts that come to mind. There are no rules or constraints. Start writing down every single thought, opinion, phrase, fear, goal, speculation, etc. This is a time to allow your mind to wander and to document everything it wants to think about. Fill the page as much as possible. This completes Step 1.
Review your Thoughts
Step 2 involves setting aside another 15 or 20 minutes to thoroughly read through your page of thoughts. This can be done immediately after step 1 or you can review later. It is completely normal to feel a variety of emotions as you view your notes. It is okay if you are shocked, saddened, glad, frustrated, etc. There are no right or wrong feelings. However, it is extremely important that you not get down on yourself for anything you wrote. This is not an exercise meant for you to beat yourself up. Rather, it is intended for you to look at your brain. View your page with curiosity and fascination. It is okay to wonder, “Why does that thought cross my mind?” This concludes Step 2.
Keep the Positive, Trash the Negative
Step 3 involves determination of useful versus toxic thoughts. After Step 2 is complete, your task is to decide which harmful thoughts to eliminate from your mind. At the same time, you are going to decide which thoughts to intentionally put back into your brain. Think of it as cleaning out a closet: remove the useless items that waste space and only allow practical items back into the space. Use this concept as you review your thoughts – decide which ones to trash and which ones to keep.
I recommend this exercise a few times per week to practice healthy mental hygiene. You will be amazed at an increased level of self awareness and how it leads to positive thinking.