5 Ways to Take out the Mental Trash

Photo by Bethany L King
There are times, particularly ones of stress, where I find myself mulling over things people have said and done. Never a great one for speaking on the fly, I think up retorts long after the conversation has finished. This past week was particularly bad, with a hard-headed individual bending the rules to his liking and thumbing his nose at the people he was supposed to be reporting to. I knew I needed to stop thinking about the situation, because I could do nothing further. But how could I escape the thoughts? I had to take out the trash, and quickly, because it was really beginning to smell. A friend of mine wasn’t kidding when she called it “stinking thinking”.

I have come up with a list of five techniques I use to get out of the mess and get back on track. Feel free to add any others you can think of:

  1. Distraction. This is the first line of defense for me. I can be easily distractable, but the distraction in this situation has to be one that engages my mind fully. Conversation with people (as long it is not about the situation), or working on learning a new skill are good ways for me to do this.
  2. Walk. Physical exercise is good to burn off lingering negative energy. If I really push myself, the emotion will let go of the mind and make it easier to be calm.
  3. Do Not Talk About It. Venting has its place. But I noticed that when I am truly upset, talking about it just intensifies the emotions. The less I talk about it, the better.
  4. Write. As above, this writing is not about venting. I choose to write on subjects that fill me with good emotions like memories of past trips.
  5. Meditate. This one is available to me after the first waves of emotion have passed. I can sit quietly and focus on my breathing. Anything else is gently pushed away. Fifteen minutes of this and I am usually much calmer.

Once I have applied the above techniques, I can usually put the matter aside. If it pops back up (it usually does), I can apply them again until the issue gets put in its proper place.

What are your favorite techniques for getting rid of mental trash?

Photo by Bethany L King


  1. Simone says

    Thanks for those great ideas.

    When my stinking thinking is driving me nuts, I write it out on a piece of paper and put it in my ‘God box’ and leave it in the hands of a higher power. If I start to think about it, I take the paper out and read it again. Making a decision to put the worry down, I place it again in the ‘God box’ knowing that its not mine to worry about.