How I Get Myself Out of Negative Spirals

This past week has been a challenging one, to say the least! I’m currently studying for the Law School Admission Test and I’ve been experiencing a lot of negative thoughts. Not only is the test very hard, but I’ve worked it up in my mind as being impossible to complete. I wanted to reflect this week on what I do to get myself out of a negative spiral like this, whether it stems from the LSAT, a challenging exam, or just a general slump.

A picture of a person walking a dog in the forest

Take A Step Back.

After studying almost every day for four months, I was feeling overwhelmed, overloaded, and discouraged. Stepping back and taking time off studying until I felt better reminded me that what I was facing wasn’t the most important thing in the world. 

I spent a lot of this time in nature. I’ve always found nature to be a great place to step back from things that are stressful, because nature always makes me feel insignificant in the best possible way! It allows me to focus on things that will exist no matter how my test/essay/stressful situation turns out. 

A picture of the ocean

Question Your Assumptions Surrounding the Issue.

When I'm in a negative spiral, I always like to question my assumptions surrounding the issue. Even though the LSAT may seem incredibly significant to me right now, actually looking at the facts of the situation show that it’s not that important. My favourite exercise for questioning my underlying assumptions was one recommended to me by my therapist, and I go back to it over and over again. If you're also feeling stressed out, I really recommend this exercise to help undermine some of your assumptions and anxieties!

A picture of a cat meditating

Release Your Negative Energy.

Finally, it feels so good to release the negative energy I’ve pent up about a situation in a different way. For me, this has been through exercise lately. I’ve been enjoying running around the park near my house because it’s a great way to get my body moving, my energy up, and my endorphins running. After I exercise, whatever situation I’m stressed about always feels so much more insignificant. 

A picture of trees on a sidewalk
Running around the neighbourhood!

Whenever I have lots of negative emotions about a situation, I also enjoy drawing or writing about some of my thoughts. This time, I made a painting of a strange little gremlin (which represents the actual LSAT) and a big scary demon shadow (which represents my perception of the LSAT). It’s not a very good painting, but it really helped me release negative feelings and put down on paper some of the thoughts I was having! 

A picture of the painting described above

After taking the time to centre myself with these mental exercises and practices, I always feel a bit more able to tackle a big challenge. Whatever you’re going through now, good luck! 

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