How to Think Straight

Tuesday September 11, 2018

I have never heard a better description of the torment depressed people suffer than that shared in a blog by Adrien: "A rabid dog is chasing its own tail in my head. Corrosive unhelpful circular thoughts go uselessly round and around."

Then Becca shared these simple words that, with Adrien's blog, provoked this blog: "I was so mentally unstable I could not think straight."

How can we think straight when, in our minds, there is a rabid dog chasing its own tail in useless circles?

Adrien's tip was to get exercise – and this got me thinking about using all the senses to 'think straight' – thereby breaking out of those destructive circles. Adrien's first strategy is a physical one – to walk briskly. So, there is our first sense – the physical sense of liberation we get when we walk. Walking means 'freedom' to most of us.

Not being able to think straight is also a visual challenge. We may have experienced a sense of not being able to see clearly. The future seems 'foggy' or 'unclear'. This is all about focus and clarity – almost impossible resources to tap into when there are clouds obscuring our thinking.

Following Adrien's lead, I would recommend going 'outside' visually too. By this, I mean writing down thoughts rather than letting them run ungoverned round and round in our heads. This gets the thoughts 'outside' our head instead of keeping them 'inside'. Writing a list of the first three things that need to be done may help us focus more clearly on just three simple steps. Adrien's examples serve us again: write that letter, wipe down the shower, do the shopping list.

What about the sense of hearing? Thoughts, for most of us, are words. They are like mental static, noise in the mind. This is where music has come to the aid of the mood of so many Moodscopers. Given that the conscious mind can only 'focus' on one thing at a time, providing a pleasant focus through music – even as a backdrop - can help bring everything else into more clarity. Why do we sing to distressed children? Simply because it works. It shifts their attention onto something pleasant.

Scent has similar benefits for me. I've become a fan of artisan soaps – soaps made with loving, thoughtful care and attention. When the **** hits the proverbial fan, you can almost smell it. For me, then, having a shower with an invigorating fragrant experience of beautiful soap can ease the situation, at least temporarily.

Taste may be last in my list but it is not least. I have a 'taste' for strong flavours, especially Umami – the Japanese named flavour beyond sweet, bitter, salty, and sour. I buy it as paste, and when I need to jump outside my mind away from the torment inside, Umami can bring my awareness out!

In conclusion, when there is torment 'inside' and we can't think straight, using our senses to bring our awareness 'outside' can give us those precious moments that can restore peace, clarity, and focus.

What are your sensory strategies?

A Moodscope member.

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