What is a Downward Spiral?

A common term when speaking about mental health is the verb of spiraling, but what exactly is meant by this?

Spiraling is a term often referring to an emotional spiral, when your thoughts and behaviours start to progressively become more and more negative. This can be caused by many things from as small as just making a mistake at work. But for some, they may start to overthink these mistakes and can often lead to darker thoughts. They may even fear that they will be fired from their job for a simple slip up.

These thoughts can make a person feel hopeless and not in control of their own life, this is when an emotional downward spiral normally takes place. A person may feel like their emotions are increasingly becoming more and more negative. This is why it’s called a downward spiral, take a snowball rolling down a hill constantly gaining speed and size as time goes on, this is how your mind can react to a situation. 

There are many tips out there on how to break out of a downward spiral, however the best skill that everyone should learn, is how to identify the signs that occur before a downward emotional spiral takes place. By acknowledging that you are spiraling or on the verge to, you can take steps to stop it. Common reasons for people to start spiraling can be from stress, a fight with your friend or even if its because you felt like you haven’t had a productive day.

Below are a few ways how I have personally managed to break or reverse a downward spiral:

  1. One helpful method to improve your emotional state of mind, is to set small achievable goals throughout the day. This can be from just cleaning your dishes to going out to the shops. By doing this it helps to slowly build up a feeling of self worth.  
  2. Limit your expectations, breaking a downward spiral is not easy for most people, it can often take days if not weeks to break out off. Take a step back and analyze why you feel the way you do, are they rational thoughts?
  3. Go out and socialize, when you are spiraling it is best not to spend time thinking over every action and choice you have made in your life. By socializing you are able to distract yourself from these negative thoughts.
  4. Be open about your emotions and mental state with a professional, friends or family. There are numerous services out there, who are willing to sit and listen to your story if you feel you have no one in your personal life. Doing this offers a third party perspective, this can help you realise that things may not be as bad as you personally see them.
  5. Realise that it is okay to ask for professional help from your doctor or a counsellor if you are struggling. You are not weak for needing extra help, everyone is different and you may be suffering from a mental health problem that is out of your control.

If you are struggling with breaking a downward spiral speak to someone your comfortable with or contact an organisation from the link below.


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