There are times when our brains just Won’t. Shut. Up.
I remember in high school when I liked a boy it was all I could think about. It swirled around in my head all day and gave me warm fuzzy feelings inside.
As an adult, the things that swirl in my head aren’t usually so wonderful. Usually it’s something that I’m not supposed to think about. The stresses of adulting can be overwhelming.
I’ll lay awake at night, anxious about some thing that’s going on or replaying something that happened in the past. Like yes, I did say that really embarrassing thing three years ago, thanks for reminding me Brain. It’s terrible but these are the coping mechanisms that I’ve come up with.
1. Tell yourself to think about something else (Out loud if you have to)
This has been the most helpful to me. I have to be in control of my thoughts and I’m aware that I don’t have to think about that thing. I will be getting dressed or something will remind me of something I’m not supposed to dwell on and I will say out loud “Think about something else Jacey” and then I try to find something better to think about. I have to tell myself to think about something else and get my brain on a whole new train of thought so that I don’t allow myself to go down that road.
This is going to sound strange, but it works for me. When I tell myself “Think about something else Jacey” the thing that I always choose to think about is chickens. Yup, chickens. The ugliest of birds, the tastiest of food. Whenever I think of chickens, I think “Chickens are so ugly,” and then inevitably, my mind wanders to something that may or may not be chicken related. I would invite you to think about something like that. Come up with something random to think so that your mind doesn’t wander back to where it shouldn’t go.
2.Listen to music
If I’m in a low spot, the thing that I’m not supposed to think about is never far from my mind. Therefore, if I have downtime, or a time I know my brain may wander to a bad spot I listen to music and focus on that. I try to listen to Christian music during these times so that I fill my brain with positive things. Music can be a fantastic distraction and helps to shift your focus.
3. Keep yourself busy
If you know your brain is going to run a million miles a minute, don’t allow yourself the chance to have time to think. This is a last resort for when things are pretty bad. If I have down time I find something to clean, I bake something, or find a project to work on. You can’t focus on bad things when your mind is distracted by something else.
4. Get outside
Sometimes a change of scenery is what you really need. Go for a walk (maybe while listening to music?), or to a coffee shop. Go somewhere out of the norm where you can feel like you can clear your head.
When I was in high school, and I would get stressed of overwhelmed by something, I would sit on the swings that were near my house. Maybe its something about feeling childlike again, or maybe it was just the wind through my hair, but it helped. Find something that helps.
5. Talk with a friend
We have friends for a reason. Sometimes, it helps just to get the thoughts out of your head. Sometimes we hear how ridiculous they sound out loud, or sometimes our friends have a different perspective that we never would’ve thought about. Just the act of saying it out loud can be really helpful, so talk to your friends! It also helps to grow deeper relationships and better friends. And friends are the bomb, having someone who always has your back is one of the best feelings you can have.