Hard times: they happen to all of us. Even the most optimistic person can hit a speed bump and everything gets thrown off course. It’s scary how fast momentum picks up on this downward spiral.

You can go from perfectly happy and having a great day to one thing setting off a domino effect that ruins your entire day. If you’re lucky it only ruins one day, but more than likely your attitude shifts and you start attracting more negative things into your life, dragging you down into an anxious, depressive cycle of problems.

It’s not an easy thing to catch yourself along this downward spiral and try to dig your heels in before things get out of control, but it is something that you can do if you’re aware of the signs.

Pay attention to your thoughts. Are you trending toward a positive outlook or negative?

Are you feeling guilty more often? “Why do I make so many mistakes?” “I shouldn’t have wasted so much time.” “I’m a terrible friend/roommate/sibling.”

Self-critical thoughts are a sure sign of an impending spiral. They start small but quickly start to become more irrational and detrimental making it even harder to look for the positive. If you allow yourself to get into that frame of mind there is no doubt that you will become a self-fulfilling prophecy unless you focus on turning these tendencies around.

A good way of preventing and treating these thoughts are positive affirmations. While you’re in a good place and feeling full and satisfied with yourself write a little list of things you appreciate about yourself and your life. Read over these when you feel down to redirect your negative thoughts towards more optimistic ones:

  • I may not be perfect, but I always try and do the right things.
  • I have people who care about my happiness and will help me if I ask.
  • I am happy with the way I look, and I embrace it entirely.
  • Anything is possible with the right plan and execution.
  • My life is a product of my creation, and I am proud of what I have worked to create.

Be aware of how your body is feeling during your mood fluctuations. When you start getting pain in your neck, shoulders, and back, or when you start to get headaches or indigestion, it is likely caused by extra stress and tension you’re now carrying.

Release some of those negative blockers with a blast of endorphins and get a little exercise. This makes a much bigger difference in overall well-being than we’d like to admit!

Just 20 minutes of cardio like jumping jacks, butt kickers, getting outside and jogging in the sunshine will alter the chemistry in your brain just enough to give you the upper hand in trying to combat a downward spiral.

two young women high-fiving while exercising together in a gym

If you start to have more trouble getting to sleep and are suffering from racing thoughts, negative feelings towards yourself or other people, listen to your body telling you that it’s feeling the stress and anxiety of a negative cycle. If ignored, the anxiety of your problems can wake you from a dead sleep making it impossible for your body to heal from the negative cycle of the previous day.

Try meditating or quieting your mind before you go to bed each night. Recount the good things that happened throughout your day and what you are grateful for. I’m sure you’ve heard this advice before but are you actually implementing it?

Consistent practice will elevate your vibration and slow down your racing thoughts before bed just enough to give you some peace of mind to get a good night’s sleep.

Last, but definitely not least… Take care of your body. Unfortunately, our society heavily promotes using alcohol to cope with our problems.

Bad day at work? You need a drink!

Problems in your relationship? Go get wasted with your friends!

Let’s be honest, turning to alcohol hardly ever has any positive effects on our problems. It just sends you into work hungover the next day or facilitates a drunk dial to your ex. All the drinks do is eliminate our proper judgment and make it so we don’t even feel bad about it… until later when the guilt hits. Maybe you deal with this by gorging yourself with greasy, palate-pleasing, trans fats or mouthwatering artificial sugar.

Whatever they are, the best thing you can do is try and replace these unhealthy coping mechanisms. Science tells us that the necessary vitamins and nutrients in fresh food actually revitalize you and give you energy. How many energetic people do you see feeling self-loathing and pessimistic? Your body houses all your problems, give it the best chance at fighting depression, anxiety and stress by taking care of it!

You can get out of a downward spiral, but it takes determined effort. But do it. You are worth it!

What are some healthy practices you use to cope when experiencing a hard time? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Tags: Mind downward spiral