Are you an overthinker? I am guilty as charged, in fact we all are. Studies show that our minds filter through between 60,000 and 80,000 thoughts per day. That’s between 2500 -3300 thoughts per hour. Think about that! If the average mind cycles through this massive amount of thoughts per day imagine what an anxious mind experiences!
Thinking, even when we aren’t aware that we are thinking can be exhausting. We are living in a time of great anxiety. We are spending more time in our homes which offers benefits, but it offers more time than ever to think. In fact, our minds are searching for stimulation. You may have noticed that you are having some wild dreams during this COVID-19 crisis. This is a direct result of your mind searching for answers and stimulation.
Overthinking leads to and can increase existing anxiety. It leads to increased stress levels, lack of sleep, overconsumption of anything from food to alcohol and overall exhaustion and feelings of depression.
What do you do when your body is tired? The logical answer would be rest. The same is necessary for our minds. We have to give our minds a break but that can be way easier said than done. So how can you teach yourself to rest your mind?
- Try the “M” word, meditate. Many of my clients recoil when I suggest developing a personal meditation practice but after they try it, they can attest, it works. The key to any kind of meditation practice is not being critical of yourself. There is no right or wrong way to meditate. It is YOUR practice. Start small, set your phone or watch timer to 5 minutes, lock yourself away somewhere quiet or try it in the shower. The key is to clear you mind. I use the word “quiet” when thoughts start to creep in and they will creep in, it’s okay. Give yourself 5 minutes every day of quieting your mind and within a week you have your own meditation practice. The benefits are HUGE. There are also a ton of great meditation apps if you want assistance. You can check them out here.
- Exercise for the sake of moving is an excellent way to clear your mind. You don’t have to be a gym junkie to do it. Just get moving. Whether walking, biking, running or hiking, push yourself to the point your mind is focused on movement rather than internal thoughts.
- Write Down Your Thoughts Let’s not call this journaling, let’s call this a mind dump. By jotting down the thoughts you are having you can explore what is useful and what is harmful and causing you stress.
- Talk with a Counselor Sitting and talking with someone whose sole purpose is to listen and give you space can be incredibly freeing. Along with lightening the mental load that you carry, you can explore what triggers anxious thinking an ways to manage stress.