Being able to imagine has been a great evolutionary advance, making us human beings not only able to live in the moment, but also to remember past situations and consider future ones.
But that is not totally good. Sometimes, remembering what we have already experienced or thinking about what might happen make the mind, how liberating it might seem at first, the authentic prison of our species.
Our highest capacity turns into a trap, causing us to enter a rumination loop and obsessive thoughts that can be paralyzing. Faced with this type of situation is when we consider how to stop thinking so much , and this article aims to be the answer to such a complex question.
- Related article: ” Rumination: the annoying vicious circle of thought “
When too much thinking becomes harmful
As we were already commenting, sometimes thought becomes something that cannot be controlled, especially when concerns are being discussed.
Obsessive thoughts begin to occupy the entire space of the mind, making the person unable to stop focusing their attention on negative events, either past or those that may occur in the future. This is a source of discomfort, manifested in the form of anxiety, irritability and sadness .
When one talks about thinking too much about something bad, one cannot ignore the concept of rumination, which refers to when the focus of attention remains completely focused on a fact, whether real or imagined, which produces a certain feeling of discomfort . In this case, the thought does not flow, it remains stuck in the same concern, which becomes an obsession.
The person makes every effort to prevent these intrusive thoughts from appearing, but it seems that the more effort he puts forth, the stronger they appear. Thus, it enters a loop in which the one who is living it fails to end it, getting completely caught in a whirlwind of maddening thoughts.
How to stop thinking so much? Some advices
It is clear that the human mind does not have a switch that can turn it off as we would with a television, nor is it possible to decide what thought to watch as someone who decides to watch their favorite channel on the device.
However, it is possible to cause worrying thoughts to lose strength, especially if you stop paying attention. Let’s see some useful strategies for this:
1. Don’t try to stop thinking
Although it may seem contradictory, one of the best things you can do to try to stop thinking so much is simply not obsessing about stopping thinking about intrusive thinking .
In other words, if the recurring thought appears suddenly, trying to stop thinking about it consciously will only make it more vivid.
Thought will eventually disappear at some point or another, so it is best to try to ignore it.
2. Do not cheat
We are calm in our living room and, suddenly, we think about the uncertainty generated by not knowing how the current political situation will end. We got up from the couch and began to think about possible scenarios, each more catastrophic than the last, reaching the point of thinking that a civil war could start.
This is an example of what not to do. If thought comes, it should not be given more strength than someone who adds fuel to the fire.
The problem with ruminating is that it can be addictive . If you have not been able to find a calm answer to the thought that generates anxiety, perhaps it is best to forget that such a solution exists.
3. Live in the moment
It may seem like cheap and very utopian advice, but it is plausible and effective. If we focus on what we are doing at the moment, as simple as it may be, it can be a very good way to cut obsessive thinking.
Whether while washing dishes, reading a book or, simply, being in line at the butcher shop, if you keep an eye on what you are doing and where you are, you will take away the prominence of invasive thinking.
It is not possible to be fully aware of two activities at the same time, for this reason, living in the moment is a very good option to remove weight from what has happened or what may happen .
4. Don’t react emotionally
This may be a bit more complicated, but ideally, when obsessive thought appears, you stay calm.
If you react, either by becoming angry or sad, you enter a loop in which you are looking for more reasons to be worried and, on top of that, you give more thought.
The goal is to stop paying attention to them, and that also means not giving them the pleasure of making any emotional impression on us.
5. Listen to relaxing music
It is a simple but comfortable and inexpensive option, especially if the songs do not have lyrics or are sung in a language that is not understood.
Although it is a somewhat elaborate situation, it is possible that when listening to a song sung in the mother tongue, if something is mentioned that is related to the concern, the person enters a constant loop in that intrusive thought.
Relaxing music, especially of the New Age genre, induces an atmosphere of relaxation and distraction thanks to its large number of instruments that imitate the sounds of nature.
6. Change habits
It is quite possible that the thoughts that concern us are linked to some action that we carry out every day, although it may seem that their appearance is completely random and for no apparent reason.
Working the worry itself is quite complicated, but it is not so much to make a change in the person’s habits. That is why it can be very beneficial to make some small changes on a day-to-day basis , such as frequenting new places, retaking contact with old friends, in essence, submitting to new stimuli.
If the change is made in a radical way, you must be careful, since it is not easy to introduce several new habits at the same time.
If achieved, it can be a great source of liberation, since the new tends to occupy a greater role in the mind than the old, in which obsessive thoughts are found, causing attention to be paid to new experiences.
7. Set a new goal
Closely related to the previous point, you can consider reaching a new objective, which will make you pay more attention to it than not to invasive thoughts.
However, this strategy can be a double-edged sword. If done badly, there is a risk that it will be one of the many projects that the person started and failed to finish, becoming an invasive thought.
This is why the new goal must be realistic, even if it is also challenging . An example of this type of project would be collecting insects, making a model, obtaining the B2 of English …
If the activity is truly enjoyable, the person will pay attention not only while the activity is taking place, but also when it is not being done, especially because they feel like dedicating themselves to it.
This type of meditation technique has been one of the most studied in the field of psychology and that is why it is known that it has many benefits when it comes to reducing anxiety and, at the same time, obsessive thoughts.
During the sessions in which this activity is carried out, you can concentrate on physical sensations, control of breathing, the voice of the person in charge of the activity … You enter a state of deep tranquility, in which it seems that thoughts negatives are dissipating more and more.
- You may be interested: ” What is Mindfulness? The 7 answers to your questions “
9. Physical exercise
Everyone knows that exercise is a good ally of both physical and mental health, and it cannot be missed when learning how to stop thinking so much about bad thoughts.
Not only does it have the great advantage of producing endorphins, but also, especially in directed activities, it allows the focus to be focused on aspects such as posture and correct movement .
In addition, once the exercise session is finished, both the muscles and the nerve connections recover, in addition to initiating changes that are beneficial for the proper functioning of the body.
Related to the previous point, walking is also an effective ally against the intrusion of unwanted thoughts .
While walking, your legs do not move only. The person looks at the places he frequents, although the ideal is that, if you want to stop thinking about obsessions, visit a bucolic place like a park or visit the mountain, where there are no distractions nor the madding crowd of the city.
The fresh air of the countryside has a relaxing effect on the body, in addition to which, by nature, humans associate the green color of grass with calm and well-being .
Being a different environment to the one you are used to, especially if you are an urbanite, seeing wild flowers and plants also allows you to de-center your attention from the trap that our mind can become.