Time to stop letting people into your head and throwing shade on your white light for good.
Oprah Winfrey first put the ‘radiators and drains’ theory into our collective consciousness, classing people as either radiators who beam out warmth and encouragement, or drains who suck away all joy and leave you feeling flat. While both ends of the spectrum are pretty extreme, her point is valid – have you ever woken up full of positive intentions for a productive and high energy day only to be slowly brought back down again by others’ outlooks?
Mindfulness might have become mainstream and setting positive affirmations as second nature as brushing our teeth each morning, but by the time we’ve had someone queue jump us in the post office, been rammed against the closing tube doors and read an urgent work email or ten, buttons have been firmly pushed and our zen is back down to zip.
The way to stay immune is to build up some hard-ass mental resilience. Maintain the optimism you’ve so painstakingly created by fiercely protecting it. This might be in visualising a barrier around yourself when experiencing difficult people so that their words bounce right off, or repeating a mantra in your head that just because someone says something, doesn’t make it true. None of this comes naturally but the mind is a muscle so the more you flex it, the stronger it will become.
Despite categorising myself as one of Oprah’s radiators, my preferred mantra is to leave others better than I find them although in reality, I’m sure my practical nature has brought others down with a bump at times too. “It is true that hurt people go on to hurt people, whereas emotionally well-nourished people tend to be kinder, more resourceful and more likely to achieve goals,” explains wellbeing psychologist and author of The Self-Care Revolution, Suzy Reading.
How to keep cool, kind and calm when you’ve got your boss on your back or your mother-in-law sniping at you? Follow these tips from top life coaches, therapists and emotional experts and your radiator thermostat will remain piping hot…
1. Self-care is healthcare
“Whenever you feel anxiety or stress arising, stop and identify what lies within your control and what lies beyond it,” advises Reading. “Visualise a blue circle, (choose your own colour if you prefer, blue just tends to calming and represents clarity). Everything within that circle you have control over so pour your energy, effort and attention into that e.g. what you say, what you spend your time on and how you behave. Next, acknowledge and surrender to what’s outside the circle e.g. where you know you have no influence; things like how people respond to your actions, what other people think and do, external events, what will happen next, the weather! This visualisation shows you that worrying, wishing and resisting, are a waste of your time when things lie beyond your power.”
2. Draw the line
“Boundaries are a key part of relationships’, says Sarah Stein Lubrano, head of content at The School of Life. ‘People may cross yours without realising but you have to be explicit and consistent. Clearly lay out what your boundaries are and explain why you need them. It takes time but others will learn to respect them.”
3. Reclaim your time frame
“To be the parent, wife and person I want to be, I’ve removed emails from my phone so I’m not subjected to other people’s urgency”, explains Jayne Hardy, author of The Self-Care Project and founder of The Blurt Foundation. “Set up an auto-responder to inform senders what you’ve done and that you’ll reply as soon as you can, so people don’t chase you.”
4. Turn up your positivity
‘Close your eyes and imagine a dial that controls how positive you feel,” says Chloe Brotheridge, anxiety expert and author of The Anxiety Solution. ‘In your mind, turn up the dial and as you do so, imagine a feeling of positive energy increasing in your whole body. Feel it as a positive vibration that gets stronger and more intense.’
5. Filter your feed
6. The 5 win rule
7. Bottle the goodness
Every time someone sends a card, kind email or message, print it off and put it in a jar or dedicated drawer. By creating a kindness space, it not only reminds you of how others see you but also the positive effect you create.
8. Healthier equals happier
Yoga, hiking in the woods and running are top energy boosters. “Running is an anti-depressant; it promotes the growth of new neurones in the brain and stimulates serotonin and dopamine responsible for mental sharpness and good moods,” explains Mercedes Sieff co-founder of Yeotown Health Retreat. “Yogic backbends like the Camel pose, Cobra and Bridge are known as ‘heart openers’ and don’t have to be deep to be effective. Anything that opens up the chest and flexes the spine is great for a boost of positivity.”
9. Send it to the soil
“If you’ve absorbed negativity, shut your eyes and imagine the negativity moving through your body, towards your feet,” advises Pandora Paloma, holistic nutritionist and life coach. “With feet firmly on the ground, imagine the unwanted energy leaving your feet and creating roots into the ground. When you’re done, simply release your feet from the roots and walk away.”
10. Curb the chatter
“Unhealthy thoughts can come from ourselves as well as others, so be mindful of your internal dialogue,” warns Jane Hardy. “Telling ourselves we can’t, drains energy and creates a toxic mind. Practice positivity by counter-arguing these thoughts and reframing them. It’s a habit that’s hard to form but over time you will naturally jump to negativity less and less.”
Main image: Jack Owens/Unsplash