Thoughts, thoughts, thoughts… And more thoughts! Being of an anxious, overthinking, and sometimes fearful disposition, I battle thoughts running through my mind like that scene in The Lion King where Simba sees the herd of wilderbeasts fleeing the hyenas and tripping over themselves and running into everything in the canyon.
Thoughts and questions and scenarios float through my mind constantly. Did I leave a candle burning? Wow, it’s cold this morning. Maybe I should go get my bigger coat for recess and wear my smaller coat for in the classroom. Are my students learning enough for first grade? Do I even have all of the materials for my lessons today? I should’ve gotten more coffee this morning. Why didn’t I get up earlier so I could drink more? I forgot to set out the chicken to thaw, but do I have enough money to get some fresh from a deli? Did I sing the right songs at church Sunday? I hope I didn’t offend this one when I walked by without waving, but I was just so preoccupied with something else.
You get the picture. I think so much that it even drives away sleep some nights. I mean I am in overload all the time. I think about my marriage, my church, my work, myself, finances, my family and friends, cars, pets, and even trivial things like my clothes, decorations in the home, and so on. I think 24/7. And because I think so much I tend to forget a lot of things. I’m beginning that’s what Winnie the Pooh’s problem is and why he has to “think, think, think” all the time to remember things.
I got the inspiration for this post during one of these overthinking episodes. I pondered about what helps me overcome all of these thoughts. As a child of God, I often feel like I shouldn’t have this struggle of overthinking… but I do. Yet the Lord has never left me to deal with this alone.
So here’s some ways I’ve found that work to ease my mind of the daily overthinking:
- Pray. It’s amazing the mental clarity I receive after I pray. And I don’t mean the multitasking little thoughts we sometimes send the Lord in an effort to feel like we “prayed”. I mean the -on your knees in a quiet place really talking with God about anything and everything as if He’s right there with you- kind of praying. Every time I have done this, He speaks peace to the storm in my mind. EVERY TIME.
- Read the Bible. Although it’s wordy, reading the Bible really helps to focus my mind on things that are heavenly. True, not every story or scripture is going to ease my mind, but if I’m really struggling with keeping all of the swirling contemplations at bay, then I search for scriptures that encourage me to trust God, believe in Him and His way, and know that He cares for me. It would be good to have a notebook with some of your favorite “go to” scriptures for quick access.
- Less Screen Time. Sometimes my overthinking kicks in when I am on social media. While social media can be used for good, more often than not I find that my mind ends up in the dumps rather than being uplifted. Staying away from social media can help clear up some of the clutter of the mind. Rather than scrolling through my news feeds feeling disheartened at the latest drama posts or political rants or inappropriate pictures, I can find a better use of my time, which leads me to my next suggestion.
- Hobbies. There’s nothing like reading a book, riding a bike for leisure, or painting a picture that can soothe a mind by having it focus. I am not the best at anything, therefore if I’m reading a book I need to focus on the words to be able to build the images in my mind. I have to focus at riding a bike and the paths that I take because I don’t want to fall off. Whether painting by sight or by imagination, I really have to concentrate on the strokes I take and the colors I want to use. All of this focus on a hobby calms my mind and allows me to think more clearly on what is necessary.
- Fellowship. Getting together with good, encouraging friends will always calm my mind. It’s a blessing to have friends with whom you can share thoughts and have wholesome conversations. Fellowshipping is good for the soul and mind, and it’s something I believe helps still my wandering thoughts because I’m too busy being preoccupied with the joy of friends to worry and think about this or that.
- Journaling. Journaling offers me a chance to write as much as I need to about anything I want. If I need to rant, I can. If I need to write a list of things I need to do so I don’t forget, I can. If I want to write a poem, short story, biography, or a diary update, I can. Journaling allows me to write my thoughts however they come to me, and it doesn’t have to make sense. Best of all – I can toss out the paper and never read it again or I can keep it for later review.
- A Clean House. A clean house can work wonders on a cluttered mind. I find that the messier my house is, the messier my thoughts seem to be. The cleaner my house is, the less cluttered my thoughts seem to be. Much of my overthinking stems from all of the chores and little duties around the house I see that needs to be done, so if my house is clean, that’s less I have to think about.
- Date Night. There’s been times when I’ve been so mentally tired that all I want to do is crash on the sofa but my husband insisted that we have a date night and do something together. By the end of the date night, my mind is clearer, I have more energy and I feel better altogether. Scheduling or having impromptu date nights can relieve the mind of stress and allow you to have an enjoyable night with your companion. Although it may seem more stressful and cause more mental agitation at first, going to places you’ve never been can be the best remedy for an overworked mind. Every time I’ve been on a date with my husband and it’s somewhere I’ve never been, while my mind goes crazy at first (I’m learning to chill out on that more now though), by the time we go home I’ve had so much fun that my thoughts are happily spinning around the date we just had rather than focused on everything else.
- Cooking. While cooking could probably go under hobbies, I wanted to still include it in what helps me calm my mind. There’s something so orderly about cooking. Again, I have to really focus on what I’m doing since I have burned entire meals before because I was trying to multitask and get everything done at once rather than concentrate on one thing at a time. Plus, I believe that eating well balanced, home cooked meals is one of the best things you can do for mental clarity.
- Go to Church. Whenever the doors are open, go. Being with God’s people, worshipping Him together, and hearing testimonies, songs, and the Word of God brought out by a minister can really put your mind where it is supposed to be: on Jesus.
Feel free to leave a comment on what helps you stop overthinking! Thanks for reading and have a blessed day!