Mind Tools

Mind tools can be used to off-load some of the cognitive burden of carrying out tasks.

The Basement Door/The Dark Space

We all have those tough days, days when you just feel like everything is going against you! Those days are extremely hard especially if you are having to give it your all to get up in the morning and fight another day.

Many carers and families have told me they know it as The Dark Space, those times that they really can’t be bothered, they feel so angry and frustrated inside but again, they cannot do anything about it.

We use various mind tools/picture’s to help us combat those dark days, so here you go, try it and see if it makes a difference for you and your family.
  • The Basement Door . . read more +
    Picture the most ornate basement door you can imagine, make the door the largest one you have ever seen. Picture the hinges that strap across the face of the door, 3 of them in all and again all ornate in their shape and design.

    Now picture 3 locks on the door, the top and bottom lock have large keys inside them. The 3rd and final lock is the centre one, this has a rather large padlock fitted to it, the padlock is that Big it will take two hands to move it. The door is open and tempting you to take a look.

    Your basement door can be any colour of your choice, it can be in any shape you wish, your aim here is to picture very strongly in your mind the door and its locks.

    We are now at the stage where you can use the basement door in the future, especially if the dark space takes over you and you feel you cant shift it immediately.

    In your mind focus on the door, beyond that door there are 100 steps down to a very dark space and the smell of damp air is very off putting. At the moment the door is open, you have become quite inquisitive and decided to venture down the steps, presently you are on step 10. Everything after step 10 is in total darkness, the cold/damp air becoming more upsetting for you.

    The above paragraph represents your current dark space mood, the feeling of getting lost and annoyed. You know you need to shake it off but you are struggling to do that, hence why you have taken the plunge and walked down to step 10.

    Now you have a choice, continue to walk down to the darkness or turn back around and come back up to the day light. The daylight is the best choice for any of us, we can see things a lot more clearly when we have light around us.

    Once you are back up at the top, slam the basement door shut! Don’t think about it, just slam the door shut! The next stage is very satisfying, lock the top lock with the key and also lock the bottom lock with its key. Throw those two keys away, throw them as far as you can.

    Now we can lock the Big padlock, remember, this is going to take both your hands to lock. Carefully lift the padlock into position, the lock is that heavy you are struggling to hold it up. Eventually you get the padlock into position, now turn the key and remove it. The key is also heavy but you manage to hold it, now comes the best part of this mind picture.

    Its time now to throw away this key, make sure you also throw this as far away as possible. As you throw away the key, also throw away your troubles that are upsetting you. You won’t able to find the key again, its long gone and hopefully some of your troubles have gone with it.

    The basement door approach gives you that means of having a coping strategy when the pressure cooker life you live gets too much!

    It is a simple mind tool, one that we always use as and when we need it. These systems are tried and tested by both of us. No one taught us how to cope, we found our own way through and now help more to do the same. Hopefully it can help you as well.

The Sparrowhawk

Over the years I have often been asked "How do you avoid mental burnout"?

I use what I call the Sparrowhawk Technique and it works something like this:

If you have ever seen a bird of prey up in the highest part of the skies, you will have noticed that they float around in an effortless way.

Then in a flash they drop down to earth to capture their food and take off again to somewhere comfortable to rest and enjoy.
  • Sparrowhawk Technique . . read more +
    You may be thinking what has a bird of prey got to do with how my mind works, well I follow the same sort of principles, except I am not dropping down to earth to capture my food.

    All of us have those busy days and its about having the ability to zoom in and zoom out from concentration. If you are permanently focusing on something sooner or later you will become burned out mentally.

    Due to the things I do at home and at work I need to make sure I conserve as much energy as possible to keep me achieving and keep me away from burn out.

    When I need to concentrate on any area I ZOOM in like the sparrowhawk, once I've completed that part I then ZOOM back out and allow my mind that time to recuperate.

    Give it a go, picture the sparrowhawk in your mind and then always use it as and when you need to.

Hamster Wheel

How many of us spend time in our minds worrying about things we have no control over?

This tip is really simple to use, picture the hamsters wheel in your mind, picture the hamster running around in circles. The hamster will always start off at full pace and then begins to run out of energy.

This is a great example of how worrying over things makes us feel mentally drained. Now if I feel a little worried about anything, I immediately picture the hamsters wheel and stop the need to worry.

Using this method keeps my mind strong and energised.
The on/off switch
If any of us look at the long day ahead we would struggle to cope first thing and the process of beating ourselves up with negativity kicks in.

For that reason when my feet touch the floor I flick the biggest On/Off Switch in my mind, make the switch as big as you want, the On in my mind is brilliant green.

Now break the whole day down ahead of you, I break mine down into an AM/PM day.

The AM is broken down again into small pieces, an example of this is getting ourselves ready in the early morning. Each task is called a challenge, never look at anything as a chore, if you think of it as a chore you begin to become deflated. Looking at it as challenge motivates you to work through them and helps you achieve.

As each one is completed you have reached a goal, keep on working through them, my goal early doors is to get my office attire on and then move into the office.

Treat the PM slot in the same way, if for any reason you have a bad AM you know you have the PM to pick it back up and continue working through your challenges.

Keep repeating the system daily and watch how quickly you turn around your mindset.