So. I’m a big daydreamer. I’m less likely to have nighttime dreams or to spiral in my thoughts when I’m falling asleep or sleeping so when that happens, I really get stuck in my own head. Daydreaming can be fun, creative, and inspiring but it can also be detrimental to taking action. It’s easy to think that life will be better or easier if… women might fill in the blank with different “ifs” like if I looked different, if I moved, if I met the one, if I had a different job, if I made more money, if I got married, if I got pregnant etc. Basically, it’s so easy to think about how great life will be soon. Daydreaming can be fun and can help you identify what you’d like to accomplish in life but it can also be pretty detrimental. When does it affect you negatively…?
It is when you think about how great life could be if ______ can actually get in the way of you making things happen. You can get in the way of yourself! I’ve been thinking about this lately and about how to get out of your own head so I thought I’d share some thoughts! Here are my ideas about how to jump-start yourself to get out of your daydreams and the worrisome spirals that come from there so you can get back into the real world.
I think when we stand in our own way, it often comes in the form of repeating and spiraling thoughts that become negative patterns. Have you ever felt like the same negative, stressful, or self-defeating thought has run on a repeating spiral through your head? At that point, it’s hard to separate that thought from reality and to step away from the thought to take action. The quicker you separate those thoughts from reality, the quicker you can start taking appropriate steps to turn your daydreams, what-ifs, and/or negative spiraling thoughts into reality. Introspecting too much can quickly turn into an endless cycle of unproductive self-examination, stress, and worry that goes nowhere fast. So, let’s nip that in the bud!
How to Get Out of your Own Head
Write It Down
Writing down whatever thought(s) is holding you back will help you get it out of your head. Write it in a journal, type it in a word doc, or type it in a note on your phone – whatever works for you. When you can see what’s in your head and read it out loud, you can start to clear up space in your mind to process it instead of letting the negative thought spiral through your head on a continuous path.
Find The Truth
When you’re stuck in your own head, is what you’re thinking actually true or is it a negative “what if” that you temporarily convince yourself will make your life better. Is what you’re thinking holding you back, bringing you to a standstill, paralyzing you, or putting you down? If so, is there any truth at all in what you’re thinking? Go back to what you wrote down and assess. It will bring it clearly into reality!
So much of getting stuck in our own heads comes from negative daydreaming, the “life would be better if ____” thoughts, and dreams/end of day stress. Try to pull yourself out of these dreams and thoughts and ground yourself in the presence. It will remind you what the truth is (if any) to your spiraling thoughts. And it will remind you not to be so hard on yourself about something. It will remind you to forgive the person that is making you upset. etc.
Take One Small Step
Once you’ve written down what has you stuck in your own head, looked for any truths in your thoughts, and brought it in touch with your present reality, it’s time to take a small step. Even if you feel like you’re still stuck in your own head, a small step will help you realize that you can get out of your own head and move past this.
Take A Break
You’ve made your first small step to help you get out of your own mind. Now what? Give yourself a break! When my thoughts spiral, I find that I become exhausted. Very mentally exhausted and even physically exhausted because the emotional toll can be so much. I remind myself, that the first small step is great and now I can take a break. For me, a break usually involves one of three things: taking Maybelle for a walk, working out, or reading. I highly recommend a walk with fresh air, breaking a sweat, or reading a book as very productive ways to take a break and get out of your own head.
Other ideas: meditating, journaling, needlepointing or knitting, swimming, writing someone a letter, or listening to music, a podcast, or an audiobook. All of these things will help your mind slow down the self-defeating thoughts about why you are stressed, unprepared, upset with something or someone etc.
Do Something Positive
I think doing something outwardly positive can be a great way to get out of your own head and to free yourself from your thoughts. I have a few fun ideas for this…
First up, try saying hello to 10 different people a day you walk past or come in contact with. I bet you will smile each time and each time you’ll become a little happier and a little freer of your thoughts!
Or a relative you’ve been meaning to catch up with. This will distract you completely. Hearing a loved one’s voice will also brighten your mood!
Offer to help a friend or a co-worker out with a project. This can be something tiny. It will remind you that other people around you have things going on too so you aren’t alone.
Sign up for some volunteer work in your community. Spend an evening at a shelter serving dinner or at a food bank organizing donations. The less time you spend thinking about yourself, the less time you spend stuck in your own head. It’s much better to spend your time bringing happiness to others!
Remember, regardless of what you want to do or accomplish, your biggest hurdle is probably yourself. No matter what your unique situation is or what you have to/need to/or would like to overcome, you can make it happen if you stick to your guns, believe in yourself, and get out of your own way!
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Photography by Edwin Eversole