Personal development, Psychology, Self-awareness, Spirituality

How to get out of your head without Sex, Drugs and Alcohol (some thoughts on Overthinking)

I’m not suggesting that there is anything wrong with doing all three of these things.

They just don’t exactly build the kind of wellbeing most of us want to enjoy. 

So why do we turn to them so often?

For many of us, they are what gets us out of our own heads for a while. Stops us from the dreaded O word. Overthinking.

Overthinking is the enemy. 

A chronically overthinking mind is a mind on ‘high beta’ mode. According to Ego is the Enemy author, Ryan Holiday, this is a level of mind that is synonymous with your ego. This is disastrous when it comes to being able to interpret reality and events with any degree of sanity or perspective.

Deliberately losing your thinking/beta mind each day is essential. More essential than smoothies even. 

Deliberately being mind-less each day is essential for sanity and wellbeing Click To Tweet

Why?

Because for as long as we are wired on our thoughts (even if they are all ‘good’ ones), we’ll be feeling jumpy and on edge. Maybe even paranoid, insecure and unhappy. 

We need to calm our nervous systems right down. And there are more benevolent forms for doing so than booze, drugs and other sensory pleasures.

During certain activities, you are training yourself to tune out of overthinking, and tap in to an innate intelligence that is born of your heart and not your mind. 

That kind of smarts is a lot more powerful to guide us in life than anything our over-frazzled, overheated brains can come up with. 

8 things you can try daily to counter overthinking 

In terms of the specific pursuits, there aren’t any surprises on here. Much of this is just reminding you what you really already know. 

Yoga

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If you read this blog regularly, you already know I love to practice yoga. To be honest, this is a relatively new development. Initially yoga aggravated the pants off me. 

If you are really over-wired in the nervous system department, practices such as yoga are a bit of an assault. They seem too slow. In many ways, you have to slow down in order to practice it.

Yoga can be too slow for some minds. You have to slow down to even practice it Click To Tweet

If yoga is a bit jarring for you currently, I would suggest dance as a great alternative. Dance is awesome because it is challenging and rhythmic and feels very natural to do. 

I also think that lifting weights, and things like crossfit if you enjoy them, work to bring you present whilst you are doing them. I do not think that they offer the same benefits as yoga, given the latter’s focus on breath and mind body integration. But it’s a lot better than nothing. 

As for running – can you run and overthink at the same time? Only you yourself know the answer.

If running works for you – then by all means.

Going into someone else’s world

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It has often been said that the speediest route to improving your own emotional state is to help someone else work through a problem. Listening to friends is also an excellent way to practice mind-lessness each day.

There are always people around to support. That is because life is hard.

If you are an over-thinker, then helping someone else through an issue will serve you as much as them Click To Tweet

Lend an ear, be a great listener and seek to give someone your undivided attention. If you’re an overthinker, it will serve you as much as it serves your friend. You are forced into taking your attention away from your own concerns for a while. This is a good thing. 

Writing

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The inclusion of writing might seem a little counter-intuitive. You need to think to write – right?

Actually you aren’t really thinking when you’re writing. Provided you have some basic skills, it can feel more equivalent to channeling. 

Write anything. An instruction manual. An article for the internet. Write on an aspect of life you are dealing with. You do not need to win awards with the writing. Or share it. You are simply using the writing time to turn down your brain for a while.

Writing and copying can be excellent mind-less activities Click To Tweet

Copying is also good for turning down the beta brain. You could copy out poetry or your favorite quotes from books. 

Copying using calligraphy is an excellent idea.

Reading or otherwise learning

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Reading a book is another period of daily mind-lessness. Depending on what you are reading, it can be very refreshing to spend half an hour in your day reading.

Learning in general is a mind-less process: you are giving over control over your attention to someone else for a period. That is why learning environments can be very happy environments.

Playing games

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Used with awareness, playing video games is also a decent avenue for slowing down the thinking mind. Playing games can be absorbing and engaging without overburdening your analytical skills. 

Simply meditating

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This one should be obvious.

Remember that as well as actually dedicated meditation time, you can use any of your daily pursuits as meditations.

Anything can be a meditation if done with presence. Washing up can be a meditative pursuit Click To Tweet

The point is to relax your thinking mind and focus on the sensations of the task in hand. You can do it with washing up.

Going for unstructured drives and walks

To be really effective at getting you out of your head, you could try taking unfamiliar routes. 

Photography

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I’m not a photographer, but some of my closest friends swear by it as an outlet for that non-thinking time. 

Things that aren’t so good?

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So are there any pursuits and pastimes that actively overcharge your thinking mind?

Here are two common ones:

Scrolling purposelessly through Facebook/social networks and reading whatever you come across. Although this is a form of reading, it is very passive. Also it is a minefield for generating judgments and opinions.

Using Facebook is an minefield of opportunities for overthinking. Limit your use Click To Tweet

Your opinions are a product of your ego. They are what we are trying to move away from. They charge up and aggravate the thinking mind.

Multi-tasking. Checking our phones whilst watching movies; working whilst having email open. I have noticed that this has a disastrous effect on the mind. It can leave you feeling really scattered.

It is worthwhile to try to slowly disengage from both of these habits. We reap the rewards with our stress levels and our ability to be present and focused. 

Summary 

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Non-mind activities need to be worked into your life daily. 

I like to think of my yoga time as a daily offering to my higher mind. It is about me saying ‘I am not my mind’, in the same way I am not my body. It is my deference to the higher intelligence that lies within. 

Getting out of your head daily is your offering to your higher mind. Life is better when you do Click To Tweet

On a very practical level, you might notice a strong link between the amount of ‘mind-less’ time in your day and your enjoyment of that day. 

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About Rezzan Hussey


Hi, I'm Rez. This blog is dedicated to the practice and pursuit of self-awareness, which is a pretty massive subject. I hope you'll find something new and useful here. I post twice a week, so come back regularly.