Do you feel caught up in a vicious cycle of overthinking and worrying? Do you frequently get stuck in your thoughts? Trying to think through every possibility of what could go wrong, what could happen, what you could do to change things and make something (or someone!) be different? Lying awake for hours at night worrying or thinking through events of the past or future?
Meanwhile you have lost moments, days or weeks of time as you are caught up in what is going on in your head.
Overthinking and worrying is a protective mechanism. Something on some level doesn't feel safe. You may have been triggered by something that happened or something someone said or did in your past or present. And before you know it your mind is off and racing. And because our thoughts create our emotions, we then end up in tug of war between our thoughts and feelings.
You need your thoughts. They are highly functional when applied to tasks like problem solving, planning and keeping us out of genuine danger. However, when misdirected your thoughts can become your worst enemy. Paradoxically, by reducing the thoughts and creating space in your mind you have a much better chance of arriving at positive and workable solutions.
If you keep holding on tightly to your thoughts they will continue to control and limit you. Your thoughts go round and round and you get mired and stuck and it drains your energy. You may notice your shoulders feel like they are up around your ears and your whole body feels tense, wired and tired.
Notice what is going on in your mind. How are your thoughts showing up right now? Are they feeling stuck and repetitive. Are they racing? Do they feel stressful? Are all these thoughts helping you or are they stopping you from taking action?
Take a moment to draw your attention away from what is going on in your head and notice what is going on in your body. Pay attention to your breathing. Is your breathing shallow and light in your chest? Or are you breathing deeply into your belly? Or are you actually holding your breath (yes you would be amazed how much this happens!).
Bring awareness to what is going on in the rest of your body. Notice areas of tension or tightness. How do your shoulders feel? Your head? Your stomach? These are common areas to hold stress. How does it feel if you breathe into those areas of tension and allow yourself to 'let go'. Notice if anything changes. Notice your body shift and change as you relax. How does it feel compared to before you started the exercise? Has this created space in your mind? How does that feel?
Think about what you might be able to do differently to allow yourself to notice what is going on in your body throughout the day. Like anything new it takes practice. What reminders can you give yourself? Maybe set a timer on your phone, put a note in your diary or calendar or place a post-it-note somewhere that you will see it regularly each day. Everyone is different so pick something that works for you. Notice the changes that occur as you focus your attention inward on a more regular basis.
Take care of you.
Counsellor / Trauma Therapist
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