Many of us dream of our next holiday, to get a break from the reckless stream of thoughts that rushes through our heads. But even when we are on holiday, we still have our thoughts jingling away in our heads. How do you ever escape and get out of your head?
Often, it's not our physical location that we need to change. In reality, a change in our psychology will do more good. No matter how much ducking and diving you do, you can’t escape your thoughts entirely. But you can learn how to get out of your head and leave the chaos of your brains.
In this article, I will discuss 8 ways to help you get out of your head and bring you greater inner peace.
- What does it mean to be stuck in your head?
- The benefits of getting out of your head
- 8 ways to get out of your head
- Wrapping up
What does it mean to be stuck in your head?
The majority of us have had the urge to get out of our heads. Instead, we feel trapped by our brains. It can feel like a washing machine on a spin cycle that goes round and round.
When we are stuck in our heads, we allow our brains to run our lives. This may look like a number of different things. We may feel controlled and trapped by:
- Patterns of rumination.
- Persistent negative and self-deprecating thoughts.
- Catastrophizing ideas and fears.
These are all destructive thought patterns, which only serve to reduce our well-being and draw us away from the present moment.
According to this article, about 47% of our time is spent thinking about what isn’t going on at the present moment. And as you may expect, this leads to unhappiness. The article eloquently states “a wandering mind is an unhappy mind”.
The benefits of getting out of your head
When we manage to get out of our heads, we escape the perpetual cycle of unhealthy thoughts. By embracing the present, we manage to evade the trap of spending too much time on the past and future.
The past is done, there is no point dwelling on it. Future events have not happened yet, so there is no point worrying about it. When we get out of our heads, we manage to catch our “what if” thoughts.
When we turn our focus to our external environment instead of our internal environment, we become:
- More observant.
- More attentive.
- Better listeners.
- More in tune with our surroundings.
- More relaxed.
This article suggests a wandering and consuming mind is often instigated by negative thinking in the first place. You see, it is a cycle. Negative thinking leads to a wandering mind, and this results in more negative thinking.
That's why it's so important to get out of your head from time to time.
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8 ways to get out of your head
The good news is there are a number of tried and tested ways that allow us to escape the prison of our minds. We don’t have to stay on the hamster wheel. There is a reprieve available if we are willing and able to take it.
Let’s have a look at 5 ways we can get out of our heads and escape our repetitive and unhealthy thought patterns.
1. Practice mindfulness and meditation
If it seems mindfulness meditation is the answer to everything, then that’s because very often it is.
Mindfulness meditation is used to treat physical ailments such as:
- High blood pressure.
- Irritable bowel syndrome.
- Chronic pain.
It has also been scientifically proven to treat psychological ailments such as:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder.
This article outlines the positive impact of mindfulness meditation on people stuck in deep despair and darkness.
All you need is 10 minutes a day to start off. There are a number of options for you to get started. You may want to go to a class led by an expert. Alternatively, you can download an app that guides you with mindfulness exercises.
If you want more information, here's one of our articles that covers the benefits of meditation and how to get started.
Have you heard the old saying of a problem shared is a problem halved? Very often, the art of just expressing our worries is a release. This can be done in a number of ways.
Journaling is a popular and effective way of emptying your mind. It allows your brain to literally have a word vomit out onto the paper.
You can share your hopes, dreams, and aspirations without any fear of judgment or ridicule. Journaling provides a safe space for you to express yourself.
Another way you can share your thoughts is by speaking with a friend. But before you go offloading thoughts to a friend, check if they have the capacity to listen.
My final suggestion for sharing your thoughts is to seek the services of a professional. Therapists are trained listeners. They are skilled in drawing information out of us. They are excellent at helping us share our thoughts. And like I said earlier, a problem shared is a problem halved.
3. Read a book
Do you often reach the end of the day feeling absolutely exhausted only to struggle to fall asleep? From personal experience, I can tell you that this is frustrating and exhausting.
About a year ago I built a new habit around my bedtime routine. I now go to bed half an hour earlier than I used to. I read for at least half an hour. This helps distract my brain, quiet my mind, and sets me up for a good night's sleep.
A small caveat here, you want to pick a light-hearted and easy-to-read book for this to work effectively. Or, you can follow my lead and read a chapter of an intense and thought-provoking book first and then read a chapter of an easier book. Then it’s lights out and a good night's sleep.
4. Focus on kindness to others
When we focus on other people, we have less bandwidth for ourselves. And sometimes, this is a really positive thing.
When we commit acts of kindness we actually help rewire our brains. Serotonin and dopamine are released when we are kind. These hormones are linked with feelings of euphoria and positive well-being.
A secondary benefit of being kind is that we become distracted by others. This gives our brains something different to think about. Which in turn, helps us get out of our heads.
So start off with small acts of kindness every day.
- Let a car pull out in front of you.
- Smile at a stranger.
- Engage a cashier in conversation and ask how their day is going.
- Pay the bridge toll for the vehicle behind you.
- Give 5 minutes to the street market researcher.
- Give a stranger a compliment.
These are all relatively easy acts of kindness. From here you can expand your repertoire. Be ready to express kindness whenever the opportunity arises. I promise it will make everyone involved feel amazing!
5. Counter your thoughts
Have you ever sat back and listened to your thoughts? Do you believe what your thoughts say? Do you ever challenge them?
Think of your thoughts like an unruly toddler. They need some discipline and boundaries in order to function healthily. This means we need to hear what our thoughts are saying and dispute them or counter them.
For instance, when my thoughts repeatedly told me I couldn’t run a business I asked them to explain why. They couldn’t come up with anything. I told my thoughts I was organized, efficient, and a great communicator. I told my thoughts I had brilliant potential as a small business owner.
This countering shuts my thoughts up. Well, for that subject at least. They then went on to try and panic me about something in the future.
But my point is, that we don’t need to listen to our thoughts. Let’s try and reframe our thoughts to be the kind of things we would say to a close friend.
Of course, we should be honest with ourselves and recognize our fears. But we can reframe our negative thoughts with thoughts of more self-belief and empowerment.
6. Engage in physical activity
Many of us underestimate the power of movement when it comes to mental well-being. Engaging in physical exercise, be it a morning jog, a yoga session, or a dance class, can be a game-changer for those looking to escape the confines of their thoughts.
Exercise not only releases endorphins, the body's natural mood enhancers, but it also offers a chance to focus on something tangible: your body's rhythm, your breath, or the sheer effort of the activity.
Start with just 10 minutes of physical activity a day. It could be a quick walk around the block during your lunch break or a short yoga routine before bed. Gradually increase the time as you feel comfortable, and notice the difference in your mental clarity and mood.
7. Immerse yourself in nature
There's a reason why many of us feel at peace when surrounded by nature.
The natural world, with its vast landscapes, gentle sounds, and rhythmic patterns, offers a respite from the chaos of our minds. Whether it's the gentle rustling of leaves, the chirping of birds, or the soothing flow of a stream, nature provides a backdrop that can help anchor us in the present moment, away from the whirlwind of our thoughts.
Dedicate at least one day a week to spend time outdoors. It doesn't have to be a full-blown hiking trip; even a simple picnic in the park or a leisurely walk in a botanical garden can do wonders. If you're in a city, seek out green spaces or community gardens where you can sit and relax.
8. Stay away from your devices
The constant buzz of notifications, emails, and updates can amplify feelings of being trapped in a mental loop. While technology has its benefits, it's essential to recognize when it's time to disconnect and give our minds a break.
A digital detox, even if it's just for a few hours, can help reset our brains and provide much-needed relief from the onslaught of information.
Set aside specific "no-screen" times during your day. This could be during meals, an hour before bedtime, or even a designated day of the week where you avoid all digital devices. Use this time to engage in other activities like reading a physical book, crafting, or simply spending quality time with loved ones.
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Getting out of our heads is not always the easiest of things to do. But believe me, you don’t want to be imprisoned in your head for a long sentence. This will result in a downward spiral of negativity, which can be difficult to escape from. When we learn to get out of our heads, we increase our happiness. This helps us live in the moment and be genuinely present.
What's your favorite tip to get out of your head? Do you find it hard to snap out of your negative thoughts and live in the moment? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!