Unwanted thoughts can get to the best of us. It leads us to stress, lack of concentration, insomnia and slowly affects our overall well-being. Having control over these unwanted thoughts can seem difficult, but it’s definitely doable and I hope that with this guide, you will be able to find a way to rid your mind of them.
1) Distract yourself
Focusing on something automatically blocks the possibility of parallel thoughts. Try making it a habit to read a book when these unwanted thoughts start appearing, if you’re into creative writing, write something, or if you’re particularly artistic, start sketching your imaginations on paper. The main point is that you need to start occupying yourself with something to stop those thoughts from affecting you.
2) Read a book
As mentioned above, reading a book helps to block out parallel thoughts, but additionally, reading transports you to a different world so that you forget about those unwanted thoughts at least whilst reading. Moreover, you may even learn something new from that book which will get your mind to start thinking more about that new thought and eventually forget about the unwanted thoughts altogether.
3) Be more ‘mindful’
Mindfulness can really help our mental wellbeing. What is mindfulness, you may ask. Mindfulness is a concept about being aware of what is going on inside and outside ourselves in order to stop getting indulged into our own world or negative or unwanted thoughts. The core of mindfulness is about being fully aware of all the sensations our body experiences, moment for moment. For example, next time you walk to the bus stop, feel the breeze hitting your body, smell what’s around you and observe the surroundings as much as you can. This way, you will allow yourself to see and live in the present moment rather than drifting off into the thoughts your mind is presenting you with.
Being mindful helps us to appreciate the present moment and we start taking new things in and eventually have a new take on life. Most people even realise that the stream of thoughts they’ve been using their energy on was futile, and they are then actively able to stop those thoughts from coming in. An additional advantage of mindfulness is that it makes a person much more aware, so they are able to pick up signs of stress or anxiety early on, and are then able to take steps to solve those problems sooner in order to prevent unwanted thoughts and other signs of stress and anxiety kicking in next time.
So, how can you be more mindful? As you will have realised from the example above, it’s all about being more aware of your surroundings, but it’s not easy to start doing this all of a sudden. To simplify the process, pick a time of day, for example, your walk home from work, or when you cook up your dinner, and start being aware of what all your senses experience during that time every day. Be regular with this because being mindful once a week or once every other day won’t help. If you’re really struggling, try doing something new such as going somewhere different for your weekly meals, or eating something different for lunch, or even something simple such as choosing a different place to sit in during meetings and really start noticing everything you feel through your senses.
The process might be hard at first, but you will be able to do it if you focus. Being mindful isn’t about making negative thoughts go away, rather, it’s about seeing those thoughts as mental events and occupying your mind with the real world.
Meditating has some great benefits. True meditation allows one to detach themselves from what’s going on in their mind to really focus on their breathing. It’s a really good stress buster and allows you to think clearly rather than worrying about what could go wrong in the future. To meditate, simply close your eyes and focus on you breathing. Do this at least once every day and you’ll be sure to succeed.
5) Share your experiences with a friend
Continuously going through the same string of thoughts can take a toll on us, but sharing those thoughts with someone will free you of the burden of keeping those thoughts internal. It’s also a good distraction and your friend may even be able to give you a good solution for the problem. It’s often better to face negative and unwanted thoughts than to run away from them and this is one of the best ways to do this because you have a companion to help you.
6) Keep a personal diary of your thoughts
Often times, our brain keeps repeating the same thoughts so that we don’t forget about them. Writing them down, however will tell our brain that it can now stop replaying the same thoughts because the thought now has a permanent place.
Finding the motivation to increase our activity levels can be tough, but once you get into the routine of getting your blood flowing and heart rate increasing, you’ll never look back. Exercise has been shown to effectively help us to de-stress and of course you’ll also reap the additional health benefits. Be it hitting the gym or playing a sport, there’s something out there for everyone!