Sometimes I overthink so hard I give myself a headache. Half the time I don’t even realise I’m doing it until I notice that I’m listening to the constant buzz of meandering thoughts and I’m totally unaware of what’s going on around me and I know I need to get out of my head.
These thoughts stop me from focusing on and enjoying the present moment. The people I’m with. Or even noticing what I’m doing.
They aren’t life changing things I’m thinking about. It can be anything from an event that happened years ago, why a past relationship ended or why it went wrong, what I could have said differently in a conversation that happened months ago, a tv programme I watched yesterday. It’s totally sporadic and un-logical.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who has this, and I’ve heard some who suffer with anxiety describe a similar ‘problem’. I say problem in inverted commas as I don’t really believe it IS a problem.
I actually like that I think about things so much. That I can analyse myself, and am able to dig deep into my thoughts and feelings. It means I know myself. Well.
I am able to understand my faults and where I feel I failed and try learn from them and past mistakes that I get hung up on. After all, life is all about learning from the lessons you are sent and the situations you go through. If you can’t sit with your own thoughts and be completely comfortable, then how can you ever learn about yourself or what makes you happy.
Constant learning is what life is about, and self improvement is the best use of your time. If you can start listening to the thoughts you have and where they take you you often find the areas you need to work on….
How to get out of your head
I may like that I’m so analytical. But I don’t always want to be stuck inside my head and miss out on everything going on around me.
That means I would be missing out on life and living it!
I have, over the years, worked out what are good and bad activities to do when you are a serial over thinker. Good things to help me get out of my head, or bad things where I notice I disappear into my thoughts.
The things that help me:
I know I’ve said it before. But meditation really is a saviour. Once you get the hang of it and find a practice that works for you it is the best thing I have found to quiet my mind, help me clear space in my head for peace to flood in, and it sets me up for the rest of the day. I feel more focused and centred with a daily meditation practice than I ever have before.
A simple meditation practice: For me sitting crossed legged on the floor is the best position, you can use meditation music or nature sounds if this helps you relax. Close your eyes and take a moment to focus your attention on your body, just being, just sitting in the present moment and feeling grateful for it.
Then focus on your breathing. Breathe deeply from your diaphragm, feeling your breath expand from your stomach out. Take slow, deep breaths until you can feel yourself relaxing.
Next, clear your mind of all thoughts. Sometimes visualising a hand or arm literally sweeping everything out of your head helps with this.
Visualise somewhere peaceful and tranquil, a place you feel safe. A peaceful lake, a woodland glade bathes in dappled sunlight, a mountain top surrounded by tall trees.
When you have this image clear in your mind focus on that, and again focus on your breathing. If your mind wanders bring it back to those two things: your peaceful place and your breath. Just see how long you can sit, you might surprise yourself!
And once you start a meditation practice, even 5-10 minutes daily, that focus and peace with strengthen. Then, if you start to feel yourself slipping off into your head during the day, all you need to do is just focus on that breath again to bring you back to the present.
A Walk in nature
Although a walk on its own when I’m just going mindlessly from a to b is a prime example of an overthinking opportunity, a walk in the countryside or to somewhere you’ve never been before is great to keep you in the present moment as there’s always something new to see. Or if you’re like me lots to stop and take pictures of.
There’s nothing like the beauty of nature to make you feel thankful for the present moment and more focused on the day. It doesn’t even have to be a long walk. Just half an hour to appreciate whats around you and be grateful for the little things.
Ok, I know this sounds like a weird one, but for me baking is therapeutic. It’s something you need to concentrate on because you have to weigh and mix ingredients and there are steps and a process to follow to make sure your recipe turns out as it should.
These are all things that keep your mind sharp and focused on the present moment, hence no time for thinking.
Yoga / Exercise
Any exercise or physical movement where you are having to concentrate on your breathing, balance, repetitions, or playing as part of a team is sure to keep me focused and intent. For me yoga – a combination of balance, strength and breathing, is perfect. If also makes me completely energised and refreshed afterwards. But any exercise or physical activity you enjoy is bound to do the same.
Have a mantra
If there is a thought or thoughts that you find yourself coming back to, work out why. Often if we are hurt or upset by a situation, it sticks in our heads. But we cannot change the past.
My mantra when these thoughts start to creep in “you cant change it. Worrying about the past is a waste of your energy. Do something good now”.
Its almost like snapping yourself out of the revive and giving yourself a good talking to. Find your own mantra and see how it works for you.
Sometimes getting words onto paper and writing out your thoughts is not only cathartic, but also helps you work through them, and either work out whats bothering you and a solution, or just clear them from your head.
Just writing out a jumble of what comes to mind, random sentences, different words and ideas, is enough. A form of free writing if you will. This is often something creatives, and writers particularly do to start their day. It works to clear your mind, get all the rubbish out, and focus your thoughts for the day. Or it can get all the thoughts you have before bed out to clear your mind and help you relax before sleep too.
These are what I have found to work for me. Id love to hear if you try them and if they work for you too.