Thousands upon thousands of words are written each week about what you should or should not put into your body – “this additive may be poisonous, tonka beans may have pretentious side effects, carbs after midday may fill you up.”
But how many people talk about what you put into your brain?
Surely, this is as, if not more important – with a strong, positive mental outlook you can overcome other, more physical problems.
With this in mind, I’ve started to think carefully about the things I consume – not in terms of food, but the things I consume mentally. Things I watch, read or listen to.
For me, the key to this is avoiding negativity. This has a draining effect, kills my creativity, and absorbs time. You may be the same, or it may be something else.
Here are some things that I’ve found helpful in retaining my natural positivity:
Cut out needless conflict
I didn’t watch much TV anyway, but now I’ve almost completely cut it out. Switch on the TV and there’s almost always conflict in some form. As a writer I know that’s because conflict sells – but you don’t need it. Soap operas and reality TV are needlessly filled with conflict which shows the characters treating each other badly. Of course, quality drama uses conflict too, but they balance that with resolution – it’s the incessant cyclical conflict that I find tiresome and pointless.
Avoid negative conversations about things you can’t change
It could be about work, a news headline, or how much things cost nowadays – either way, it doesn’t help. Move away from those conversations. If it is something you can do or change, then work towards that.
It’s ok to turn down those social meetups or not answer the phone all of the time. If you expect someone is calling to run you through all the issues they’ve had with their day, let that call go and return it in an hour when they’ve spoken to someone else. That’s not being a bad friend – it’s looking after your own good feeling.
Limit your exposure to news and current affairs
News is important, it’s essential we’re clued up about what’s going on in our world. But in our culture of 24 hour rolling headlines its also important to step back from it. Read the headlines but not the commentary. Watch the first fifteen minutes before they get to the point where they’re aimlessly criticising the NHS, and if a Tweet is shown on the screen – switch it off, that’s opinion, not news.
Let things you can’t change wash over you. If you can’t do anything about them, then just sit back and save your energy for the battles you will need to fight.
Your brain is just like your body, you need to put inspirational things into it to make it go.
I challenge you to try this for a week and see if it makes a difference.
What’s the biggest drain on your mental energy?
Is there anything you could do to preserve this energy?