How To Get Out Of Your Head And Into Your Body
By Toni Hoy
Updated December 18, 2018
Reviewer April Brewer , DBH, LPC
Overthinking and negative thinking are two major problems that many people have difficulty overcoming. When we overthink, we get into the habit of developing negative thought patterns and evaluating past, present, and potential actions more than we need to. This type of thinking becomes a vicious cycle that affects our mental health and our ability to function properly. In fact, overthinking and negative thinking could lead to the development of mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety.
Once you've become trapped in this cycle, it can become difficult or near impossible to break out of it. However, some methods work for even the least mindful people. Here are some simple methods that you can use to get out of your head and into your body.
Meditation is the practice of discovering inner peace through quieting the mind. Meditation is one of the first methods that you should attempt when you begin trying to break the cycle of overthinking. Before you get into it, however, you need to know one thing: meditation does not require you to clear your head of all thoughts. Coming into the exercise with this misconception will prevent you from reaping the full benefits of meditation. Instead, meditation helps you to recognize your thoughts without reacting or building upon them. Don't try to fight your thoughts. All you need to do is let them come and let them go.
When you first begin meditating, you will come across many different practices. The main one to focus on is mindfulness meditation, which teaches you how to be aware of your internal feelings as well as your external senses. You should start your meditation journey with guided meditations. These audios will guide you through the process and build a foundation for you to continue with. Once you become more comfortable with meditating, you can begin to practice in silence or using relaxing instrumentals rather than guided meditations.
You will also need to designate a specific time to meditation. Whether it is 5 minutes after waking up or 30 minutes before going to bed, stick to your routine. This will make it easier to meditate and rewire your thinking behaviors.
- Finding Mindfulness In Everyday Life
People typically turn to mindfulness meditation when they are looking to cultivate a quieter, more peaceful mind. However, you don't have to meditate to acquire this. Mindfulness can be cultivated in the most mundane activities. When you are doing chores, focus on the small actions and the process of washing your dishes or sweeping the floor. When you are driving or walking around, pay attention to your surroundings and the quality of the space around you. What do you see? What do you hear? How do you feel? When you concentrate on these external factors rather than what is going on in your life or your head, it becomes easier to silence your noisy thoughts.
Besides being present in these simple activities, there are also plenty of books and apps designed to help you become mindful. You can use these tools during breaks when you are not doing chores or working. Keep in mind, however, that these tools will not always work for you. If they don't help you become more mindful, don't force yourself to use them. This will only prevent you from breaking the cycle faster.
- Doing Things, You Enjoy To Become Mindful
Stress is one of the biggest causes of overthinking. After all, why would we need to think about the past and the future when we're too busy enjoying ourselves right now? If possible, find activities that you love doing and make sure to carve out time for them daily. Here are a few hobbies that you may be interested in:
While these are some of the most popular hobbies, don't feel limited to what is written here. There are plenty of other ideas that can be found online.
- Tai Chi
If you are someone who is too restless for meditation but who is unable to engage in strenuous activity, tai chi might be the answer. Tai chi is a martial art that focuses on strengthening the life force and achieving a state of calmness and clarity. It requires you to focus on your breath as you practice slow, intentional movements designed to improve your health and longevity.
The best way to start practicing tai chi is to find an instructor near you. If you can't find an instructor in your area, there are plenty of free courses online that will introduce you to tai chi and its benefits. This is one of the most disciplined methods mentioned on this list. Should you choose to pursue tai chi, be prepared to devote time to learning the practice.
- Yoga (Or Any Other Type Of Demanding Physical Activity)
Doing a physically demanding activity is great for those who do not find it easy to get out of their heads. Why does it work? Well, when you're too busy focusing on catching your breath and attempting to ease the discomfort that is taking place throughout your body, it becomes much harder to dwell on the thoughts inside your head. It's the perfect "breakthrough" method because it helps you to realize that mindfulness is possible and it gives you an opportunity to cultivate it in those moments of inner peace.
What are some exercises that may work for you?
- Yoga- This form of exercise is a relaxing method that will help you cultivate mindfulness while it pushes the limits of your flexibility and strength, both inner and outer. Do not be intimidated by some of the exercises that you may come across on the internet or in your local gym. Yoga is available for all ages and all skill levels.
- Running/Hiking- Running, hiking, and other demanding outdoor exercises not only get you out of your head but they also get you out into nature. If you're suffering from anxiety or depression as a result of your overthinking, this is beneficial because it gives you the essential depression-fighting vitamin D as well as endorphins. Try to incorporate this into your schedule daily if you know that you are in need of these natural remedies.
- Swimming- Swimming, although it is seen as a way to relax and cool down, can be an amazing exercise when the proper styles are used. If you have access to a pool, set aside some time to use it in the nearby future. Besides the obvious benefits from the physical activity, you will also have time to relax and de-stress in the water.
This is only a short list of possible exercises that you can do. Make sure that the exercise you choose gets you out of your head and back into the body's senses. Remember, however, that you should not do these exercises every day. This can cause great strain on your body and may cause injuries if you are not careful enough. Always substitute low-impact exercises on days when you need time to recover from previous workouts. In addition, if you have a chronic medical condition or physical limitation, please consult with your medical provider, before engaging in intense physical activities.
- Taking A Cold Shower
Not all of the methods that prevent overthinking are exercises that you need to set time aside for. Something as simple as taking a cold shower will help you achieve similar results. Like strenuous exercise, taking a cold shower provides a shock to your system that takes you away from your thoughts and brings you back into your physical body. Try this out the next time that you have a shower and examine the results. Did it help you to get out of your head, even if it was momentarily?
You can produce the same shock in similar situations. Instead of a cold shower, you could throw your blankets off in the morning and welcome in the cool air, or you could go for a morning walk in the same cool environment. Whatever it is that jolts you back into your body, find it and pursue it.
Breaking out of the cycle of overthinking will take time. You will struggle at first, but by using the methods above, you will be able to overcome this thought cycle and move into a new stage of a stress-free, mindful life. However, taking the first step and beginning to practice these methods is another thing entirely. We could all use a little bit of help when we are attempting to rid ourselves of negative habits and create healthy behaviors.
If you are someone who may need a little help to do this, you should look into BetterHelp. BetterHelp is the world's largest online e-counseling platform that provides people with affordable, convenient, high-quality counseling. For those who may be interested in receiving online counseling, you can visit https://www.betterhelp.com/start/ to take a short questionnaire that will connect you with the right therapist.