Is this the life you choose to live?
So if the average person has around 60,000 thoughts per day, can you imagine what your thought count would be?.. When we buy into our thoughts they can often, over time become controlling grips over our lives. These powerful thoughts can manifest into our physical bodies causing not only mental, but physical illnesses. If… we let them.
The most common manifestation brought upon us through our thoughts is anxiety. For those of you who live with day to day anxiety, know that it is not an ideal life to live. It’s time to get free.
Throughout my 6 years of horribly devastating, life-crunching anxiety, I had tried every treatment and every possible recovery you could imagine. They all helped push me forward, but the biggest step that I took to release myself from this hellish state was to train my brain to stop letting unhelpful thoughts take over my mind and body. At the end of the day, anxiety is nothing but a zillion crazy thoughts running around in your head like monkeys, making you feel uneasy and overly stressed, and in more severe cases for example, feeling like your surroundings aren’t real, and most of all missing out on the treasures of the present moment.
Notice and accept your thoughts:
Noticing our thoughts as an observer really helps. If we are unaware of what’s going on in our heads things can become confusing. When we start to notice what’s happening up there, we can start to tweak things and get things happening. Now that we know what’s going on, we can learn to accept them. Accepting DOES NOT mean that we like them. The fact of the matter is, they’re currently there and we have to understand that they are JUST thoughts, they are NOT fact. So no matter how horrible or rude or disgusting or hurtful or invasive they are, they are just a thought and YES, you CAN ACCEPT THEM! They are nothing but uninvited guests to a party, if you focus all of your attention on them, you will only feel worse and will not enjoy the party. If you accept that they are there, then you get to enjoy the party J
The more we let them linger without caring, the less power they have over us. Eventually they start to go away because they only thrive off attention.
Attention training therapy (ATT) is a part of metacognitive therapy (MCT) . Many of you will not have heard of this technique, and personally I wish that I had heard of it a long time ago. This is one of the most helpful techniques (along with other useful tips) that I have found throughout my journey. The aim of attention training is to focus your attention and concentration on the present task at hand. You can find some helpful ATT downloads online, otherwise you can create your own. Guided simulations are very helpful but if you do not have access to these it is useful to create your own. Some exercises you can do on your own to help focus your attention are :-
- Counting your steps as you walk
- In a room with several different noises, focus on one thing at a time, e.g. The clock for one minute, then switch your attention to the sound of the heater, then switch to the traffic, then the T.V., etc.
- Similar to mindfulness, try to focus on ONE thing at a time then afterwards you can listen to all of the sounds at once, and count them. Make it interesting.
- Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, you’re able to do some attention training.
Back to the breath:
No matter how suffocating our thoughts can become, our safe place is always our breath. Focusing on our breath is a similar way of attention training, but it’s a very direct way and great for on the spot when we are really needing to dissolve some painful thoughts. Imagery is also helpful, so taking your hands to your stomach and slowly breathing in visualising the air entering your lungs, down to your diaphragm and back out moving through your body. You can also use helpful words for example on an inhale say energy, and on the exhale, say peace. This brings you back to the present moment, contains your thoughts and removes the stronghold. Remember at the same time, acceptance is the key. If you feel the thoughts are still there, do not fret, keep up the focus training and you will soon get there!
Meditation – Meditation will help you gain inner peace, the one thing that over thinkers struggle to achieve. It will give clarity to your thoughts, helping you understand yourself and why these thoughts are recurring. You will gain a better understanding of what it is that you want out of life and within meditation you can quiet your mind and find yourself. It will also inspire you by opening up your mind and letting your wise mind take over, overpowering your emotional and irrational mind. Build up this skill of meditation and you will feel the benefits in your daily life.
Yoga – Apart from all the amazing physical benefits of yoga, it increases mental stability as well. A relaxed body equals a relaxed mind. The focus on breath, in particular Ujjayi breath, is unique to yoga. This type of breath introduces breathing into the lower lungs. Breath is directed mainly to the chest for those who suffer anxiety. When we introduce lower lung breathing, we activate the parasympathetic nerve receptors which give us that relaxed and calmed feeling. This technique, along with the sound of the breath, becomes very therapeutic for the mind, body and soul. Practising Yoga releases certain happy chemicals into the body and gives us a practice of building a much better stress response. Guided yoga at a studio is fantastic, but if you have no access you can obtain a book, DVD or even a yoga APP and do it in the privacy of your own home.
We are only humans, and can’t get EVERYTHING right, as much as we would want to. We have to accept this and become a better friend to ourselves. The outside world judges enough, we don’t need to make ourselves feel even worse than we sometimes already do. Remember that every ‘mistake’ is an opportunity to learn, and our best teachers are our mistakes. Spend more time loving yourself than you do judging, and you will lead a happier life within yourself. Be kind.