This is one of the first mental exercises I came up with by myself. At the time, I didn't even know it was possible to change one's thoughts let alone knew what cognitive-behavioural therapy was. I just knew that I was often (almost always) anxious, nervous or worried and also felt jolts of terror from even seemingly everyday situations - like talking to people or answering the phone or even going out in public.
To just give myself a break from the continuous mental anguish, I would try to notice the colours around me. It started in the shower, where the warmth and solitude offered some relief and relaxation. I would notice the colours of the tiles and say to myself, "That tile is brown." Then I would try to specify or think of an adjective or description of the colour.
So the conversation with myself would continue, "What colour brown is that? hmm...It looks like Dark Brown...or Mud Brown."
Then I would continue, "What colour is that tile? Blue. Sky Blue or light, pale blue.." And I would continue.
I later learned that I was unknowingly, taking the focus off of my inner thoughts and redirecting my attention to the outside world. This is a common cognitive-behavioural therapy practice and there are many and varying exercises utilizing this technique.
Again this is how I started to break up the worry and negative thoughts that automatically came through my mind as a result of a lifetime of depression and unhappiness.
For you I would start by choosing a time, or like me, start in the shower
Take a deep breath and exhale and relax
Then start with 5 colours to notice
Observe items around you and describe the colour in as much detail as possible as I described above. How do you feel about this colour?
Then continue through all 5 items and colours
Take a deep breathe, exhale and relax
Observe your feelings. Did this help divert your thoughts?
This is not meant to be an in depth therapy or exercise. It is a beginners way for someone to begin noticing their thoughts, and for them to notice their ability to choose their thoughts or negative thinking habits. It is a starting point to offer a little relief for those full of mental anguish...take a break from the suffering if even for five minutes in the shower. I understand and know how you feel because I have been there myself.
I still have setbacks and am still on the road to complete fullfillment and recovery. But gone are the days of endless depression, drug addiction, hopelessness and constant terror.
If you feel comfortable, try doing it another time of day away from the shower...just notice the colours. I want you to start breaking up those negative thoughts and choose to notice the colours around you. Choose to notice the beauty around you. You can do it.