Have you been accused of being a pessimist or an overthinker in the past?
Or perhaps you are currently struggling with something that won’t leave your thoughts alone?
Maybe you’re trying to break your pattern of anxiety and are looking for ways to get something off your mind.
Whichever situation you may be in, excessive worrying can definitely put a strain on your mental health.
It is perfectly natural for humans to worry and be stressed once in a while, especially when they are facing a difficult time in their lives. But continuously fretting about things – particularly over minute issues, can eventually lead to a habit of negative thinking.
According to a scientific study, there are about 50,000 different thoughts passing through our minds on a daily basis. What’s even more shocking is that 70% of them are actually negative.
But what most people don’t realize is that more often than not, these thoughts are quite distant from the actual truth. Most of them are just a fabrication of our own mind based on our beliefs, impressions and previous experiences.
There can be tons of reasons why you find it difficult to put something in your mind. But most of the time, it is associated with our own fears and insecurities.
Without realizing its consequences on the quality of our lives, some may not find the motivation they need to break their bad habit.
So, before we dive into the different ways of how to get something off your mind, let us first see how worrying and overthinking can adversely affect the way we live.
How Thinking Too Much Can Affect Your Life
Lack of Sleep
Our mind is a very busy place with so many thoughts being processed in a single day. It is only during sleep when we get to turn off those thoughts to keep them from streaming, allowing our minds some much-needed rest.
The problem with constant worrying and negative thinking is that it interrupts our sleep.
When we are constantly worrying and thinking about something, we are unable to control our own minds. These thoughts wake us up at night and they may even keep us awake throughout the evening.
And we all know that when there is a lack of sleep and rest, a lot of other health can problems arise. We lose energy and our immune system also weakens, altering the way we go through our day-to-day activities.
Stress and Anxiety
Many people may argue that they worry about something simply because that certain problem stresses them out in the first place. But in reality, being constantly worried about that same issue creates even more unwanted stress.
It’s understandable that when something becomes too demanding, we become overwhelmed and panicked. But thinking about it excessively isn’t going to make things any better.
Worrying too much eventually leads to stress and increased anxiety.
And when we feel stressed and anxious, it isn’t just our bodies that experience the side effects. Our relationships with other people, how we perceive ourselves and how we live may also be influenced by our anxieties.
The combination of the lack of sleep and stress is a surefire formula for bad health. They can both cause a drop in energy and appetite, weaken the immune system, and lessen one’s motivation to do any physical activity.
Alternatively, some people may even develop other bad habits like binge-eating and alcohol or drug abuse – basically anything they can turn to for a temporary solution to their stress.
Of course, not every pessimist or overthinker goes through this process. But there are many people who make these types of choices when they are hugely affected by stress.
Most overthinkers and pessimists take up a lot of time thinking about things that are yet to happen.
When we always think about the worst-case scenario, we are really robbing ourselves of our own time.
Instead of enjoying the moment, our fears and insecurities come to haunt us. This causes us to miss out on many opportunities and even possibly good memories.
While it is a good idea to be prepared for the worst, it should not get in the way of our dreams or hinder us from truly living our lives.
There is no guarantee that we can escape from our problems and fears, but allowing ourselves to go through these unpleasant experiences is part of our personal development. By worrying too much, we are also stealing away our chance to learn and grow.
People who constantly overthink things tend to be bothered by the question “what if.” It is more likely that they have a difficult time making decisions than those who worry less.
And when a decision has been already made, they tend to think about what could have been if they had chosen a different path.
There is too much regret and disappointment involved, which makes it impossible to move on from their final decisions.
Dwelling on such thoughts also compromises the way we live our lives – time is too short to be constantly bothered by what-ifs.
So now that you know how overthinking can affect your current life, let’s look at some ways that can help you break the pattern.
Below are some tips on how to get something off your mind, no matter how big an issue you’re facing.
7 Ways On How To Get Something Off Your Mind
1. Focus on The Present
Maybe you’ve had a terrible relationship in the past and because of that experience, you might think that every person that comes into your life could hurt you in the same way. In a way, you are depriving yourself of the chance for happiness.
To finally break through this cycle, you need to focus on the present.
After all, it is only during this moment that you can control your own actions. When a thought keeps pestering you throughout the day, welcome its presence for a moment and then let it go.
You need to draw your attention back to the current moment.
2. Learn How to Meditate
Meditation is a great way to clear your mind and to find peace among your thoughts. When our minds are clouded by our worries, we are unable to focus on what really matters in the moment.
Through the practice of meditation, you don’t only learn how to get something off your mind, you also learn how to gain control over your own thoughts.
Our worries are an unwelcome thought; they do not make us feel good and yet they always manage to pop up into our minds.
But have you considered that the reason why they always come to haunt us is that we have been trying to run away from them?
As they say, the more we try to run away from our problems, the more they will attempt to catch up to us.
By meditating, we are able to give our worries the attention the need, even just for a moment.
This simple act allows us to reflect on them and to find the reason behind our anxieties.
What’s more is that through this practice, we are also able to let those thoughts go and therefore, we are more ready to move on to the next step.
3. Look for A Positive Distraction
There are many of different kinds of distraction out there. From television to alcohol or even drug abuse.
The reason why these tend to backfire is that they are only a temporary solution to your problems. We often use these outlets as a form of escape rather than a source of support.
A positive form of distraction isn’t found in an instant gratification. Most of us want something that gives results fast, especially when we are hurting.
A piece of chocolate or two might make you happy for a little while but the effect of sugar doesn’t last very long. And reaching out for more might make it into an unhealthy addiction.
And so, when looking for a distraction, you need something that will support you in the long run, especially on days when you are triggered to worry.
One way to find a distraction is to look for an activity which involves other people. When we find it difficult to separate from our thoughts, we can redirect these thoughts towards someone else.
Perhaps volunteer work can widen your horizons and make you realize that your worries are in reality quite small compared to what other people may be facing.
You might also want to talk it over with a friend who can lend you an ear and be your personal cheerleader.
4. Keep Busy
There are a lot of other things you can do than to be obsessively worrying and fretting. Now that you have probably found a positive form of distraction, it is your chance to stay active and energetic.
By keeping busy, we are also targeting our focus on the current job at hand, giving no room to unnecessary thoughts during the day.
Compared to when we are idle, we are less tempted to think about negative thoughts when we are busy. Of course, this is not to say that you won’t come across a negative idea or two during the day.
What you can do is to welcome the thought for a moment and let it go – like when you are practicing meditation.
5. Be Mindful of Your Own Thoughts
It’s very easy to get lost in our own thoughts. And with so many ideas going to and fro in our own minds, it is impossible to keep track of them.
Perhaps you aren’t even aware of how many negative thoughts you have in a day.
When you hear yourself constantly complaining and nitpicking every single thing, it might be a good idea to take a step back and really listen to these thoughts and to your own mind.
Sometimes we unconsciously say things in our mind and we don’t realize how they can affect the way we perceive ourselves and others.
It might be a counterintuitive act to listen and entertain these thoughts when you are trying to do the exact opposite.
But if you pay attention to these ideas once in a while, you can get to the bottom of the issues and finally try to find a resolution.
6. Avoid Triggers
We tend to associate bad memories and experiences with things, people, places – basically anything that we can possibly come into contact with.
When a certain item makes you feel worried and stressed, it may be a good idea to try and stay away from it. Or better yet, you may want to dispose of it when you can.
This way, you are keeping yourself away from possible triggers that would cause you to fall back into your negative thinking habit.
7. Declutter and Organize
In relation to avoiding triggers, our material possessions can also be a source of our anxieties.
When we hold on to unnecessary objects, it can also symbolize how we tend to hold on to our emotional baggage.
Decluttering and organizing your space is also another form of positive distraction.
Not only are you improving your living space, you are also unconsciously cleaning away some negative thoughts that may be clinging to some material possessions.
Trying to get something off your mind isn’t always easy, especially when these thoughts influence you greatly. Remember that worrying and stressing is natural for everyone, but it doesn’t mean that you must dwell on those thoughts.
In order to move on from such a negative way of thinking, you must first learn how to accept these thoughts. It is only through acceptance that you get to learn more about your own thoughts.
And because of that, learning how to get something off your mind is different for every person. But if you use the pointers above, you might be able to find a way that works for you.
Allen Wei is someone who believes in living his best life, focusing on balance, happiness, and relaxation. He fosters a positive lifestyle in terms of his body, mind, and environment, and he is a huge proponent of learning to be balanced via relaxation techniques integrated into our busy lives.