How dare those unwanted thoughts slither through your mind, wreaking havoc on good sleep, positive thinking, and getting in the way of you living your best life. Yes, we’ve all been there — a thought that you just can’t get out of your head, whether it’s about a person, the lyrics of a song, or a replay of what you should have said that just keeps coming back. Whatever it stems from, you want it gone, and thankfully, I have some great ideas for you.
Everything starts in our minds, from our physical health to our well-being and happiness. So, as you know, a thought you can’t shake is just as frustrating as getting sick, if not worse.
When the thought is negative or unproductive, it can cause stress, keep you from sleeping, and affect your overall health.
The detrimental part about negative thoughts that won’t subside is when they begin to sink you and take hold of more than just your mind.
1. Change your environment
I can’t tell you how many times I have laid awake in bed and a negative, nagging thought is rolling around in my head like the metal ball in a pinball machine.
Back and forth the thought goes until I realize two hours have gone by and I’m still dwelling.
Negative thoughts or even thoughts, in general, are the number one cause of my insomnia.
It is especially true for people who have the tendency to be people pleasers, and/or creative people, like me.
My best ideas come alive when my head hits the pillow, which makes it very difficult for me to turn off and fall asleep.
The first step I will share has helped me shake a thought—whether negative, positive, or about someone specific—while I’m tossing and turning in bed or waisting the day away dwelling on something I shouldn’t.
Change your environment!
Changing your environment from wherever you are, will ignite your senses to acknowledge something else is going on around you—besides that nagging thought in your mind.
Go into another room
Sometimes if I simply get up to use the bathroom or make a cup of tea, it forces my mind to focus on something else. Hopefully, by moving around, my mind will leave that thought in the past.
Do something productive
Obviously, if you’re trying to get to sleep and it’s 1 am, this may not be an option.
But keeping your hands busy will help your mind to settle down. Cleaning the house, reading a book, making cookies, working out, are just a few things to get your mind off of something by changing your environment.
2. Make a schedule
I have heard that stay-at-home moms, entrepreneurs, and people who own their own businesses are the most susceptible to anxiety, panic attacks, suicide, and depression.
What do they all have in common? A lack of a schedule. If we don’t have a schedule, we tend to get caught up in thought—which if garnered correctly, can be a good thing.
With today’s technology, making a schedule is easy. But if you’re a paper and pen type person like me, a good ole sticky note will do the trick.
Another tip for those who have a hard time making schedules—do it at the beginning of your week on a whiteboard that has a calendar. You can get them at any office supply store. By planning ahead, you can set yourself up for success in making a productive schedule. Don’t forget to schedule yourself some “you time.”
3. Ignite your senses
Have you ever gone outside in nature and immediately felt peace?
Not only is being outside the best way to get your mind off something, but it is also the best place to practice what I am about to share.
Going along with changing your environment, simply stepping outside will cause your senses to change and adjust to a new and refreshing perspective. It gets your mind off the problem and on to something tangible and beautiful.
How to use 3 of your 5 senses to get something off of your mind
Like I said, even if it’s simply stepping onto your back porch or outside of your workplace, getting outside is the best place to do this exercise.
5 4 3 2 1 – Hearing, Feeling, and Seeing
Your might have heard this technique from a therapist, but if not, this is something that can be a game-changer when it comes to getting rid of a pesky thought.
Hear – List 5 things that you can hear around you. The birds chirping, the cars driving by, the sound of water rushing, etc.
Feel – Now list 5 things you can feel around you. The wind, the cold cement you’re sitting on, the pain between your eyes that your headache is causing. Anything you feel physically, name it off.
See – List 5 things that you observe from your environment. The man across the street getting in his car, the green trees, the leaves changing, etc.
Now, in that same order list 4 things you hear, feel, and see. Then 3, then 2, and 1. It’s totally fine to repeat what you have observed before.
Not only can this exercise help you get your mind off of something, but it can also help you to settle down if you’re having a panic attack, feeling depressed, or having suicidal thoughts.
4. Just Breath
Breathing techniques are not news to most of you, but it still rings true for an amazing way to get your mind off of something.
There are a plethora of breathing apps on the market today, so just find one that’s good for you!
I hope these tips can be used for your benefit in getting your mind off of something you don’t want to think about, or just using as a relaxation tool.
If you do have trouble sleeping like me, here are some great natural options that have helped me.
5. Turn Up the Music and Start Dancing
Music is one of the best medicines for getting your mind elsewhere. And when you pair that with dancing like there’s no one watching, that nagging thought is sure to clear up your mind clutter and help you achieve mental clarity.
So next time you need to get something off your mind, turn up the music and let loose!
6. Find a Way to Laugh or Cry
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a bad day and I end up turning on Seinfeld just so I can laugh a little. Because laughter releases endorphins to your brain, it’s a great way to also combat a negative or nagging thought.
Just like I mentioned above about changing your environment, try changing your mind’s environment by putting on a show you know is sure to make you laugh so you can have a little reprieve.
But let’s look at this from another angle. Perhaps that negative thought that keeps coming back has to do with something unresolved in your heart and mind, and before you can move on, a good cry needs to happen.
Crying, like laughter, also releases chemicals in your brain that allow you to process emotions that can soothe, relieve, and help you grieve. So if you need a good crying starter, go ahead and watch a sad show or movie (I recommend Steel Magnolia’s). If you can get the cry started, you can revisit that thought in your mind and possibly work through your grief if that thought is negative.
7. Surround Yourself with Like-Minded and Positive People
A great way to nurture healthy minds and thinking is to surround yourself with good influences. Yes, your mother was right.
Not only can they encourage you to live your best life, but they can also hold you accountable in areas you need. Perhaps you find a running partner who can give you a little pep talk when you feel like giving up. Or maybe you can discuss with your friend what’s on your mind and share what you’re struggling with.
Saying your thoughts out loud to someone can be a great way to get a nagging thought off your chest. And when that someone is trustworthy, they might even help you process through it.
8. Write it Down
Some people benefit from jotting down that negative or unproductive thought in a journal or notepad. You could even set the stage a bit and light some candles and pray; read something beneficial. I know of people who don’t have children who do this on a daily basis, lol. Being a mom, I struggle to find time to shower, let alone light some candles and sit and think.
I hope these ideas will help you get your mind off of something that doesn’t deserve your attention.