Overcoming Mental Resistance in Quarantine
Mental resistance is something we all experience, but for a long time, I didn't realize there was actually a name for it, or a reason it happened besides me being lazy, horrible and bad. Mental resistance is that feeling where you want to do something a little differently to improve your life, but for some reason, you're just stuck.
Why Does Mental Resistance Happen?
In the past, when I've experienced mental resistance or that "stuck" feeling, I've automatically started judging myself and shaming myself for being lazy. Why else would I be stuck like this for no discernable reason? I can't count the number of times I've tried to implement a daily yoga routine and only lasted a day or two because on day three, the stuck feeling took over and I felt like I'd failed. Over the years, I've learned that shame rarely helps anything, so I'm trying to shame myself less when I feel like I've messed up, but that still doesn't explain why that stuck feeling happens in the first place.
It turns out, mental resistance occurs because our brains are trying to keep us safe in our usual patterns. When we try to improve our lives by getting up a little earlier, implementing a workout routine, or cutting down on negative self-talk, our brains resist this change in favor of homeostasis. Homeostasis is basically a sense of balance, and it can be disrupted by all kinds of change, even if that change is positive. Our brains simply see a disruption of homeostasis and do everything they can to keep things in order.
Have You Noticed More Mental Resistance in Quarantine?
Personally, I've definitely noticed myself experiencing more mental resistance ever since quarantine started. I think this is largely because now that I'm confined to my house most of the time, my routines are thrown off and everything feels like a threat to my brain's homeostasis, even things that weren't a big deal when I was in my normal routines. Everything has changed, and the part of our brains that tries to keep us safe doesn't know what's safe and what's unsafe anymore, so just to be safe, it is making us anxious and unsure about everything.
What Can We Do About Mental Resistance?
The first thing you can do to help reduce the impact of mental resistance is to know its name. Once you understand that this is a completely normal human thing, you can reduce some of the shame you feel around it. Whether or not they talk about it, everyone experiences this from time to time, and you aren't a bad person for struggling.
Once you know what mental resistance is, you can start adjusting for it in order to get past it. Notice that I'm not saying we should "fight" it. Mental resistance is created by your brain, which is you, and it's rarely helpful for us to think in terms of fighting ourselves. Instead, we're just recognizing a problem and finding creative solutions.
One of those creative solutions I've started using is personification. I take the stuck feeling and I picture it as a scared toddler. I talk to it in a very soothing voice, assuring it that everything is alright, and I offer to take care of it after I do the new thing I'm trying to accomplish. I picture myself giving it a coloring book and a juice box to calm down, and then I go do my yoga or work out or whatever new habit I'm trying to implement.
Another creative solution that works for me is doing something positive that's already part of my mental homeostasis, then transitioning to the new positive thing. Going directly from one activity that my brain is comfortable with to one that it's less sure about is easier than jumping right into the new activity. For instance, when I'm trying to get out of bed earlier, I won't get up and get right to work, I'll get up and make myself a nice, comforting cup of coffee.
Do you have any solutions for mental resistance? Share your tips with the community in the comments below.
Griffith, M. (2020, April 7). Overcoming Mental Resistance in Quarantine, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, September 21 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/recoveringfrommentalillness/2020/4/overcoming-mental-resistance-in-quarantine