What are you obsessed with? Is it a good thing, or a bad thing? Some things - like vinyl, olive oil, and my cats (babies), I’m pretty sure are safe obsessions. Healthy passions, if you will. (N.B. If you’d also like to become obsessed with my cats - click here.) But when do things go from being passions to obsessions, and when does that become damaging to our mental health?
Read on for some strategies to deal with all of that, and to find your new favourite brain-healthy lunch, courtesy of Thug Kitchen. If you’re not familiar with them, it’s a foul-mouthed, vegan site to “verbally abuse you into eating better” (sorry mum).
Simple ways to tackle rumination
Overthinking. Hard to avoid, hard to justify, hard to stop. Everyone’s done it. That one situation that just just keeps circling back around and around - even if it’s clear that revisiting it is doing you zero favours.
Defined by psychologist Dr Susan Nolen-Hoeksema as, "a method of coping with negative mood that involves self-focused attention," and "repetitive and passive focus on negative emotions," rumination can seriously hold us back and put us at higher risk of depression, disordered eating, and other mental health issues.
Break the habit
Here’s a handful of psychologist-approved strategies to help stop the cycle.
1. Don’t fight it.
Seriously. Acceptance and commitment therapy suggests that trying to stop certain thoughts can have a paradoxical effect. So, next time you’re stuck in a brain-swirl, try switching from being frustrated with yourself to a mindset of non-judgmental wonder. By finding it interesting that your mind is repeating something, rather than trying to stop it, you may find that the ruminative thoughts become less intense or frequent.
2. Would you talk to your friends like that?
A common behaviour with ruminative thoughts is to hold yourself to an unrealistic standard of perfection, or overly focus on minor mishaps instead of positive outcomes. Thinking about what you would advise a friend in your situation could be a good strategy to side-step this pattern.
3. 3pm-4pm. Obsession hour.
Scheduling time in your day when you allow yourself to overthink as much as you like may help prevent it from taking over your daily life. The idea is that if you find yourself worrying or ruminating at other times, you’ll be able to say to yourself, “I don’t need to think about this now, I have time set aside later for that.”
FOR THE NERDY: Something to think about.[Source: Psychology Today]
Want More of This? Get Some Brain Food Every Week.
BRAIN FOOD - ROASTED CHICKPEA AND BROCCOLI BURRITO
This lunchtime faveis from the first Thug Kitchen book. These wraps are quick to chuck together, and I tend to prep a job lot at a time so I can have them a few days on the bounce. That’s the theory anyway... I almost never go back for seconds, or eat it all straight away by accident.
Why is it good for my brain?
Anyway, broccoliis full of choline - great for memory function, and chickpeasare high in protein and benefit your microbiome, which can help with depression and anxiety. As for toppings? Chuck on avocado (for dem good fats) and a handful of greens like kale or spinachfor extra brain vitamins and cancer-fighting properties.
What you’ll need:cooked chickpeas, onion, red pepper, broccoli, garlic, olive oil, soy sauce or tamari, lime, chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, ground coriander, cayenne pepper to taste.
Cooking time: 45 minutes (it’s around 2.5 minutes per burrito once you’ve cooked up a batch of veggies)
Preheat the oven to 220C
Stir together all the chopped up veggies (aside from the garlic) in a large bowl with the cooked chickpeas, oil and soy sauce.
Throw spice blend over everything and stir again
Put all of that on a large rimmed baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Take it out, add the garlic, stir, and bake for another 15 minutes. (The broccoli might look a little burnt at this point but that is the plan.)
Squeeze the juice of half of the lime over the pan, stir and season to taste.
Now, grab whatever toppings you like, (avocado, leafy greens and salsa is always a win) and in the words of Thug Kitchen. “Make a motherfucking burrito,” or a salad, whatever you’re into.
WHAT WE LOVE THIS WEEK
Watch: Oh you know, I’ve just been hitting the gym. Building some sweet lats, and a massive hippocampus. Hear all about the protective, mood-boosting, attention-boosting benefits of exercise for your brain. #braingains [youtube]
Read: Sleep on the brain? With the average person getting an hour less than they need, more of us (including myself) are reaching sleep trackers and apps to try and improve our shut-eye. But, is it doing more harm than good?[guardian]
Listen: Unravel the link between diet and depressionwith this podcast with founding Nutritional Psychiatrist, Felice Jacka. [acast]
Follow: New section! Each week we'll suggest one new person for you to follow to improve your mood, memory, mindset, or of course, diet - for your brain. This week: Dr. Tara Swart, who shares the neuroscience behind peak performance.
Do you have any more strategies for dealing with your own thought patterns?
Hit me up, I’d love to know what’s working for you.
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