How to control your thoughts, this concept alone seems unattainable. Do you ever find yourself spending hours thinking about the same thing, obsessing over the same idea; whether it be a boy or girl you have a crush on or a number the scale read a moment ago? I found myself spending hours on end preoccupied with thoughts of someone else. When I liked someone I used to spend every moment thinking about them, day-dreaming scenarios of us kissing in the hallways. Similarly, I tend to over-analyze what certain things people say or wish I knew what they were thinking, how exactly they felt about me. Oppositely if something bad were to happen, say a breakup, I would spend hours obsessing over why it ended. Essentially I spend too much time in my head and not enough living my own life, living in the present.
The mind is more powerful than we believe it to be; bad thoughts, obsessive thinking, can not only control our body but our actions as well. Has anyone ever said to you, “just don’t overthink it” or “stop overthinking”? It is annoying to hear those words because you feel helpless like you cannot control the feelings. Those thoughts are born from your mind but, believe it or not, there are ways to help control the thoughts from consuming you. Throughout the time, I have learned a few key ways to deal with these thoughts which I have shared below. Hopefully, you find solace in these tips or at least some sort amusement.
Write it down; whatever is bothering you, whatever is on your mind, write it down, even if you have to force yourself to do it. Set a timer and just write, do not try to make the words proper or sound pretty, just let the thoughts flow and write exactly what your are feeling, exactly what you are thinking. Getting your thoughts down on paper helps to relieve some of the stress and anxiety that builds up in your head, this way your feelings are not bottled up tight, but rather you give them proper attention and then move on. After you are done writing, put the notebook or sheet of paper away and do not come back to read it, move on and leave your thoughts behind.
Meditation is the silencing of your mind, it is the art of bringing peace to your mind and body. I will not lie, meditation is very hard, but the challenge is to stay positive throughout the learning process. I will describe to you the way I meditate, however to help explain meditation better there are some great websites and apps out there as well!
Start out closing your eyes. Try to sit up against a hard surface and keep your back flat, with your body upright. Breathe in for 4 counts and out for 4. Listen to your mind, every time you feel your thoughts drift, say to yourself ‘okay’ and validate the thoughts; then focus back on your breathing. You can start by doing this for simply for one minute a day and work yourself up to longer amounts of time.
To be mindful is to be aware of the present moment, aware of thoughts going through your head. One of the best ways to ‘snap yourself out of it’ or distract your mind is to fully submerge yourself in whatever it is your are/want to be doing. We as a society have a tendency to multitask, focus on many things at one. Multitasking is done every day, even the little things, such as: drinking your coffee while checking emails. It is important to give your body and mind the attention it deserves; so, one morning instead of doing the latter, try to sip your coffee slowly, savor the taste and doing only that. When you feel yourself obsessing over something in your mind, channel that energy into something productive; anything from taking a hot shower to finishing a 12 page paper or gardening. Get your mind off of the stress and focus on positive work.
Disclaimer: While I originally thought most of these options were complete BS when I first heard of them, if you let go of the judgment I can promise you will find a sliver of peace within these suggestions. Good luck!
Words by Hannah D. // Photography by Juliette Bélanger
© 2015 Reef Magazine