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You know that feeling, right?
Frantic. Frenetic energy. Thoughts looping over and over. Lying in bed, wide awake at 2am. Not getting anything done because of all the overthinking. Starting a job and moving on to something else before finishing.
Feeling like there isn’t enough time.
As though there’s an underlying buzz of stuff going on that you can’t quite put your finger on, but you can feel it. Like you’ve forgotten to do something, or that something bad is about to happen (my mum calls it a feeling of impending doom).
The thought loop is the one that really resonates with me, you keep thinking about the same problem, thought, or situation over and over. And over. And over. And over.
It’s exhausting and – the longer it continues – the worse it gets.
What starts as an idea or a thought or a job you need to get done, can quickly become a ‘the world is ending’ situation that fills you with thoughts of running away and hiding from the world.
When, the reality is, that if you just get on with it, it’s never really as bad as you make it out to be in your head.
If you don’t believe me, think of all the times you’ve been dreading something or overthinking it to the point of exhaustion.
And when you finally get stuck in and get it done, it’s really not that bad after all.
But, oh the energy and the time wasted in the lead up to that moment… I know that feeling (and I daresay you do too).
Next time you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, frazzled, frustrated, or mind-full, here are some ideas to get you out of your head and into action.
How To Take Action When You Live In Your Head
:: Realise the state you’re in
Do you ever find yourself past the point of no return? I know I do, in fact, it happened to me just last night and it made me realise how quickly we can mistake basic survival issues with our emotions.
Case in point – I was really cranky and after about an hour I realised I was hangry. But I was so deep in it, I got caught up with the emotions that came from nowhere.
The same happens when you live in your head. You can take the tiniest thought and it can run away with you until it becomes a much bigger problem or situation than it actually is.
Observe your emotions and ask yourself if it’s real or if you need to regroup for a second.
It’s amazing how basic this function is and yet we so often forget to do this. If you’re in your head all the time, you can sometimes not even notice that you’re holding your breath. Make an effort to pay attention to your breathing and you’ll soon become aware of when you’re holding your breath or shallow breathing (in the top of your chest instead of the lower part of your torso).
When your head feels full, stop and take a few slow breaths in and out. Watch your belly expand as you breathe deeply, counting to three and then breathing out for three counts. Do this three or four times and observe the reset that happens when your body gets some new oxygen moving through it.
:: Write it down
When you live in your head, it can sometimes feel like stuffing more and more into an over-full cupboard (you know, where you have to quickly shut the door to avoid anything falling out?)
I truly believe we can burden ourselves with too much thinking and crowd out our creativity and ideas with unnecessary crap. There are so many ways this can be useful, but here are three different techniques you might like to try:
- Grab a pen and paper and write down the thought loop that’s going around and around in your head about a situation or circumstance you find yourself in. This happens when we’re trying to process and find a solution or analysis in order to work out our next action, but is it really serving you to replay or rethink the same past or future scenario over and over again? Get it out on a page and you might be surprised what you realise as you write.
- Make a list of all the stuff you have to do. Again, that mind fullness can come from rehashing a to-do list and constantly telling yourself all the things you need to achieve today can really put the pressure on and make you feel like there’s not enough time. Get it out of your head, prioritise the list, and then pick just ONE thing to focus on at a time.
- Write down the stories you are telling yourself. Brene Brown talks about this in her book Rising Strong. When we write down stories we are telling ourselves (oftentimes with us as the victim or the one hard done by), we are able to remove ourselves from the story. It’s not until you do this that you can actually see what’s really going on and decide if it’s even remotely true or not.
:: Walk away
Take a break. Get some fresh air. Go for a walk. Do something completely different from the problem you’re focusing on. Just get as far away from it as you can (even just for a minute). Clear your head, distract yourself, allow yourself to be fully present in a moment where ‘the problem’ doesn’t exist and you can just be.
When you return, you’ll feel so much more clear and calm to find a solution or your next course of action.
:: What comes next?
Now that you’ve got it all out of your head and removed yourself (and hopefully some of the emotion) from whatever you’re trying to work out, you will hopefully be starting to feel better. You might realise that you are clearer than you thought, or the situation isn’t as bad as it seemed, or just that you’re better equipped to handle what’s going on than you had led yourself to believe.
What’s ONE thing that you can do to take a step forward, to take some sort of action?
There might be 20 different options, but just allow yourself to instinctively pick one and get moving.
The common issue that I see over and over again is that we can live in our heads forever. It’s easy. It’s natural. But it’s not always helpful to the DOING that needs to come with whatever you’re working on in your life, relationships, career, or business. People ask me all the time what they should do when they’re feeling uncertain, afraid, scattered, or unconfident.
And, as far as I can see, it’s taking action that is the best and only solution.
We can think things through until the cows come home.
We can write a damn good pro/con list.
We can break it down, observe, analyse, and plan for future outcomes FOR ETERNITY.
But nothing really happens until you take that first step.
You won’t know if it’s going to work until you try it. You won’t know if you can survive failure until you have to. You won’t know if people are going to like or resonate with you until you put something out there. You won’t solve any problems sitting and thinking about them.
And that’s not to say that you shouldn’t think things through, because that is your natural instinct. But there will come a time where it’s necessary to take action in order for you to move forward.
Don’t let your overthinking wear you out so you’re too exhausted or tired to do so.
Catch that tricky little mind and find your first step.
Know anyone who’s been living in their head and stuck lately? Send them a link to this post so they can get moving again – who knows what it could do to help them get back in action.