"Why don't you turn it off?" This is a statement many stressed-out people hear. But does it do them any good? Quite the opposite. Because most of the time they are frustrated and annoyed. More stress is unintentionally created. The person who makes the statement usually means well. But what does that actually mean - switching off?
"Turn it off!"
Getting something completely out of your head is exhausting and almost impossible. When someone tells us to switch off, we usually don't succeed. Quite the opposite. You probably know this when you're stressed out right now and your partner, girlfriend, or whoever says, "Why don't you turn it off?" Your thought is just: "How is that going to work?" Or "Great advice, wise guy."
Our brains just don't work that way! We can't just make stressful thoughts disappear from one moment to the next as if they were never there. Rather, we jump from one thought to the next and to the next. Our brain can do that. If we occupy ourselves intensively with a subject, it will not let us go for a long time.
And then there is also the following effect: We try to "switch off" an issue and get rid of it at all costs, but then we concentrate on it all the more. When we don't want something anymore, it's the same as when we want something badly. Our focus sticks to that one thing.
It's like when we don't want to think about something in particular, we think about it all the more. You know the pink elephant example? Don't think about a pink elephant - now 😉 .
Switching off increases the perception of stress
The principle with the shutdown is the same. You resolve to switch off from a certain topic and your focus lands right there. Most people then feel the subject even more intensely and the thoughts even more exhausting. This feeling is quite normal, because all the energy is spent on finally stopping thinking about this one thing.
But it's not working. We're tensing up. Why switching off increases the stress perception is therefore obvious. When we hear "switch off" we are quickly at 180, perhaps even build a wall around us, are angry, sad or feel attacked. We react so emotionally because we unconsciously don't know how to switch off. Yet it is simply a word! A term. But in every word there is a meaning.
"Go on vacation!"
Another statement like that. We could go away. Yeah, but does that really do anything for us? Maybe we can let go for the moment because we focus on the new environment. It's easier for us to "switch off" from issues that previously burdened us somewhere else, precisely because our energy is focused on other things. We are then rid of the burden for the moment.
But what happens when we get back? After all, we can't stay on vacation forever. We are back in our familiar surroundings and our subconscious has certainly not forgotten the troublesome thoughts and efforts. At the latest when a tiny thing - a word, an image, a smell, a touch, a taste - is associated with the stress, it is there again: the Thought Carousel starts all over again.
You think everything's fine now, and then it all comes back full force. Why? Because the topic is not over - at least not for you. And because you didn't consciously go on holiday!
And at this point most people ask themselves: "Why did I leave? I really could have saved that money. It didn't do any good at all." And that's not true. Quite the opposite. The Time out did something: you came back to a little more energy and that is extremely valuable.
My advice: Energize and let go
That's great, do that! Because you finally get other thoughts and gain distance. But drive consciously! You know now, if you go away your problem will not be solved as soon as you are back. But you can let go and recharge your batteries.
Consciously go away to recharge your batteries and let go, and be equally aware that when you get home, your problem won't have disappeared into thin air. But you can work with new energy and new thoughts to work on it.
Switching - the better choice?
Switching is another word with a completely different meaning than switching off. As described above, our brain works by jumping from one thought to the next. If we switch over, it means nothing else than to grasp another thought.
So we take the path of least resistance - we go with our brains. It is much easier than to resist again and again - isn't it? If we decide to think a different thought, that can also be difficult, because the old thoughts keep interfering. Right?
My tip: Use the thought-STOP method first!
Before you want to make a new thought to gain distance from your annoying topic, use the thought-STOP method! It is so simple that you can use it whenever you need it - no matter where you are and what situation you are in.
Let's say a certain topic is bothering you and you want to think about something else now, then say to yourself in your mind or out loud STOP! It acts as a breaker. After that, immediately go into the new thought and the brain deals with the new thought.
Stressful thoughts cost strength
When thoughts are really stressful, we like to talk about a Thought Carouselthat won't stop. Many people lie awake at night feeling tormented by their own thoughts. Do you feel the same way? Then I recommend that you introduce a small switching program as a routine in the evening.
My tip: Use an evening switching routine!
To get yourself thinking nice thoughts you can ask yourself three questions every evening, which you answer in writing.
- Question 1: What was especially nice about this day?
- 2nd question: What was your most important learning today?
- 3rd question: What are you especially grateful for?
At the beginning it can be exhausting because you think that you will not think of so much. This is more because we believe that what we write down must always be particularly good. Move away from that! It does not have to be perfect! It is your thoughts and your feelings - they are allowed to be as they are. Nobody will read your lines. Only you!
If you answer these three questions, you will automatically change your thoughts and deal with yourself and your feelings - with positive feelings. Now you have managed the switch! And the second positive effect is that through this positive thoughts on positive vibration come. Through this vibration you get energy again at the same time.
If you need guidelines or a certain framework for this, I can recommend the 6-minute diary by Dominik Spenst. I tested it for you.
Switching to more energy
Switching does not cost you any strength because you no longer have to resist anything. You consciously go into a certain process. You could even supply this process of switching energetically in such a way that you gain energy in the process.
Meditation is ideally suited for switching including energy generation. A meditation doesn't have to be forever long. For example, five minutes is enough for me! That's about how long you need to read this article. Imagine that after only five minutes you could feel completely relaxed, calm inside and full of energy.
Meditation - not again
Now so many people talk about Meditation and somehow it all always sounds too good to be true. But there can also be outright rejection: "What else am I supposed to take time for?", "It won't work anyway.", "I can't sit there quietly and think nothing.", "I can't do that anyway.", "I don't have time for that.", "It's all just hocus-pocus."
Oh dear, I can so relate to that. Every single thought. When I was stuck in burnout, I thought to myself, "Like now this is going to make everything okay - it's not going to make my kid okay either." And even though Hypnotherapist and have worked successfully with myself and more than 1000 patients before, I should know that it brings something.
The patients were thrilled, and yet so was I. Why was the feeling gone? Simply because I didn't allow it and was caught in this negative spiral. Well, I did it after all - meditated. Better said, I forced myself to do it. And after just a few days, I felt better. So I stuck with it.
I had to learn this process of switching just as you are now. The most important thing is that we get involved. Thoughts like "That doesn't work for me anyway" or "Now it didn't work again" will always be there and you will always reach your limits and want to give up.
Because not everything will go smoothly every time. Sometimes you will get deeper into meditation and other times you will not. Sometimes the thought-STOP method won't work at all and other times it works wonderfully. That's just the way it is - not everything is always perfect and great. But it gets better and better the more you apply things.
Every day anew
If you use certain tools for yourself every day, like these tips here, something will automatically change in the way you feel, in your energy, in your self-confidence and in the way you feel. Love yourself change something. If you were to set up a mood tracker, you would be able to visualize this and actually see it. The curves of each individual feeling would rise.
And it makes absolutely no difference whether a relaxation method has worked really well or not so well. The only thing that matters is that you deal with yourself - and that is the key to getting more energy in your life.
This is the key to why you will eventually master switching perfectly - instead of always being annoyed - by yourself and your surroundings. It's all about doing and continuously sticking with it!
I have recorded a meditation for you that you can listen to on YouTube. This meditation is exactly what I do when I want to switch and get into positive vibrations.
This article is a guest contribution from Kerstin Böcker.
As an author, coach and alternative practitioner for psychotherapy, I write about the topics of burnout and exhaustion. Accompanying people on their path to healing and happiness is my passion. Through my own burnout experience in 2015, I know exactly what sufferers need to get back out there.
I live with my family in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, idyllically surrounded by wonderful nature. Writing, meditating and yoga are part of my everyday life.