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I’m writing this as much for myself as I am writing it for you readers. I had been meaning to write a blog post about how to break the vicious cycle of overthinking which comes with anxiety. Honestly, there really is no point to worrying about what may happen, and there is never a good enough reason to lose sleep. Yet many of us will toss and turn, ruminating over current dilemmas, and robbing ourselves of precious slumber, all because we just can’t turn off our brains.
When we obsess over situations which we have little power to change in that moment, we act like hamsters on a wheel, going endlessly around and around, finding no exit and no solution. So why do we do it? How do we let it go?
Though it can be difficult to break free from the urge to keep thinking about how to solve problems in our lives, doing so is a vital component in calming our nerves and keeping us balanced and sane. So the next time you find yourself fretting over something like a conflict at work, a financial issue, or something else which has you all tied up in knots, do the following:
- Ask yourself, “Will worrying about my issue help me in any way to solve it?” If the answer is no (and it usually is no), then there truly is NO POINT to thinking about it. Let it go, breathe, and get on with your day.
- If you just can’t turn off your thoughts, then grab a notebook and a pen, and write down a list of all pros and cons and potential solutions you can think of. Then put your notes away and don’t look at them until the next day. Quite frequently, you will find your answer in those notes you scribbled.
- Remember that there is ALWAYS another way to look at a situation, even if you think you are stuck. So think outside the box.
- Sleep on it. We often get ourselves so worked up about conflicts and obstacles, that simply getting a good night’s sleep can help to clear our thoughts so that we can tackle such conflicts with a refreshed mind.
Where Is The Off Switch?
Have you ever been so wound up with thoughts or concerns that your brain refused to allow you to fall into blissful sleep? As long as your emotions are influenced by excessive amounts of stress, the pressure will continue to spark anxiety which will continue to rob you of sleep, even if your body is completely wiped out. A vicious cycle of insomnia not only prevents the body from getting the restorative sleep it needs, it can contribute to depression or panic disorder.
People are so busy these days that it can be a challenge to check off everything on to-do lists, so it is rather common to see folks working right up until bedtime. However, if you are having problems turning off your thoughts at night, you must break this habit and allow yourself to calm your mind in preparation for sleep. That means you need to avoid activities like housework, checking emails, paying bills, or any other activity which keeps your mind active, for at least an hour before your usual bedtime.
Anxiety and Sleep
What fuels the mind and makes it work overtime in the majority of cases is anxiety. The bed is supposed to be a place for sleep, yet many individuals lie in bed with thoughts spilling over, and are unable to get the thoughts to cease because they provoke anxiety. The chances of solving any problems while trying to fall asleep are slim, so the constant worrying only serves to interrupt much-needed sleep. Honestly, how often have you been able to solve an issue you were worried about, after you crawled in bed? Your mind will be better equipped to solve any issues which plague you if you shut off your thoughts and allow the restorative benefits of sleep to take over.
Go To Paradise
Try redirecting your thoughts by practicing guided imagery. While lying in bed, close your eyes and imagine a beautiful place, such as a tropical paradise. Breathe slowly and evenly, while imagining hearing the waves crash on the beach, and feeling the sand and the warmth of the sun. You can even play ambient sounds of the ocean to help you visualize the scene. This relaxation technique can be extremely effective in not only shutting off the endless chatter in your brain, but also in getting you to fall asleep.
If you are concerned that ideas or concerns will pop into your head in the middle of the night, keep a notebook and a pen next to your bed. Once you write something down, put the notebook away and let it go. Remember that it really can wait until tomorrow.