Switching Off The Mind
When we cannot stop thinking about our problems, this is known as rumination. We think and think and overthink until we think ourselves into knots about how to find solutions to issues. Overthinking is a precursor to stress and burnout. So how can we stop the overactive, overthinking mind?
A good start to letting go of what we are ruminating on is finding something that is relaxing to do, such as lying back for half an hour and listening to some relaxing music. Allowing the mind to slowly unwind to music that is soothing and calming helps the mind to let go of intrusive thoughts long enough for us to stop clinging to them, allowing the mind to wander somewhere else instead. Better still if we can fall to sleep for a while, as sleep helps the mind to heal.
Going walking whilst listening to our favourite music has the added advantage of not only letting us relax the mind, but the act of walking releases endorphins, helping us to relax and feel happier. Being out in the fresh air allows us to boost positive mood, aids digestion and increases energy levels.
There are many ways to switch off rumination. Reading a book on a subject we are interested in, or even reading a complete work of fiction takes us away from our own thoughts temporarily and into another world where we can forget where we are for a bit. Sometimes not spending so much time alone is the answer to preventing or halting the overactive mind.
When around others we can get the support of other peoples’ perspectives on our issues. We can even find that, as we listen to others talk about their day, week or even something funny that’s happened to them, we realise that we are not alone in our struggles most of the time if we spend time in the company of others. Sometimes the act of being able to have a laugh with others takes us out of the seriousness of what we had been thinking about long enough for the issue to feel as if it is maybe not so big. At the very least we know we are not alone in our troubles.
For anyone who is alone, feels alone, or finds it difficult to trust others, or for those who don’t want to overburden others with their problems, therapy is an unbiased, safe and productive answer. In therapy, we learn how to relax the mind through understanding what thoughts or actions trigger our minds into overthinking in the first place. Sometimes if we felt judged, had our opinions left unvalidated or where always told what to do instead of being allowed to negotiate what we would like to do ourselves, we can grow up with minds that overthink or continually worry if we are doing the right thing or if we are even capable of solving problems ourselves. There are any number of reasons why people become overthinkers or ruminators as adults.
The thing is, that each one of us needs to find the reason for, and solution to our own particular set of circumstances, where overthinking became and now is an issue. We can then look at how rumination affects our lives and can look at what we can do to alleviate these thoughts. Some people like breath work. Others like to understand how they may have become overthinkers in the first place. Others may just want someone to listen to them as talking about their issues with a non-judgemental therapist can help clients to figure out the answer for themselves by having the therapist listen, reflecting back what they have heard as they see it, and giving clients a new perspective on the issue. There are many ways through which therapy can help us gain new insight on our thoughts, how they affect us and how we can handle them.
This is my last blog at the DMC Clinic. I am leaving to focus on my own practice for now. I have really enjoyed my experience in the clinic with my colleagues and the range of clients I have been privileged enough to support. I really enjoyed working with colleagues of such varied and interesting fields of study and with clients who were so engaged in their self-exploration and willingness to help themselves feel better. I have learned so much at the DMC Clinic and have added to my experience as an integrative psychotherapist.
This blog was written by Michelle Fowler, pre-accredited, newly qualified psychotherapist at The DMC Clinic. If you would like to discuss how any of the topics mentioned above are impacting your mental health, please contact The DMC Clinic to arrange an appointment.