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  • Miriam Gilmore

How to Feel Content with an Overactive Mind

Do you feel like you have 20 tabs open all at once? Maybe you struggle to switch-off and feel content? Keep reading to hear how you can practice calm in your chaotic mind.

Loads of books open: an overactive mind

In a world of constant stimulation and information overload, it's common to find our minds racing with thoughts, worries, and plans. But amidst the chaos, there is a way to achieve contentment by calming your overactive mind. In this blog post, we'll start by exploring the reasons behind an overactive mind and provide practical suggestions to quiet the mental noise and embrace a sense of peaceful contentment.

Understanding an Overactive Mind

An overactive mind is characterised by a constant stream of thoughts, often jumping from one topic to another without respite. This can lead to restlessness, stress, and even impact our ability to focus and make decisions. It's important to recognise that a busy mind is a natural response to the demands of modern life, but it's also crucial to find ways to regain a sense of inner calm.

Perhaps it is just me, but the idea of sitting with my own thoughts, with no distractions feels overwhelming. For some people this idea is not even considered. Instead headphones are put in ears, a podcast is played, or a series is streamed in the background of your everyday life. Whatever the distraction, it's intended purpose is usually the same; drown out the noise of my own thoughts.

There are a number of reasons why you might aim to drown out your inner chatter:

Avoidance of Uncomfortable Feelings: Sometimes, an overactive mind is a response to uncomfortable or distressing emotions. Distractions can serve as a coping mechanism, allowing us to sidestep these emotions temporarily rather than confront and process them.

Seeking Accomplishment and Gratification: You may find that you only feel accomplished when you are always productive, thus you listen to an audio book whilst cooking for example. Distracting your overactive mind is therefore, a method of seeking feelings of accomplishment and gratification.

You get FOMO, or need Validation from Others: You perhaps drown-out your inner chatter by being social. This might be to gain recognition and acknowledgment from others, temporarily filling the void created by an overactive mind. In addition, you may have a fear of missing out, so instead of focusing on yourself, you tune in to what others are doing.

Whatever the distraction, it does not address the underlying causes of mental restlessness and can lead to a cycle of dependency, where we constantly need new stimuli to keep our minds at bay. Read on to hear my suggestions for how to develop your inner contentment.

Suggestions to Quiet Your Mind and Cultivate Contentment

1. Mindfulness, Meditation and Breathing Exercises: You probably knew this was coming, but engaging in mindfulness practices and meditation can be powerful tools to quiet your mind. By focusing on your breath or the present moment, you can gradually train your mind to become less reactive to external stimuli and more attuned to the present.

- Try setting a one minute timer, closing your eyes, and taking deep, intentional breaths. Every time you feel your mind wandering or filling the silence with an internal monologue, repeat this phrase in your head; "Now I am Breathing". Each day, try increasing the timer by 30 seconds, and watch how over time you stop having to repeat the phrase, and develop peaceful stillness.

2. Journaling: Writing down your thoughts can help declutter your mind. Consider keeping a journal where you can jot down your thoughts, worries, and ideas. This process can provide a sense of release and allow you to gain perspective on your inner dialogue. Googling 'journal prompts' is a good place to start if you are stuck.

Or try finishing one or two of these phrases each day:

Today I have found myself mainly thinking about … I'm feeling grateful for … Today I felt like I achieved … When I sit quietly with myself, this feeling or thought comes up … I can rationalise or relate this (above) thought/feeling to …

3. Engage in Creative Activities: Participating in creative endeavours such as painting, playing a musical instrument, or crafting can redirect your focus away from overthinking. Engaging in these activities can be therapeutic and provide a meditative escape from the busyness of your mind. In addition, starting an activity without a clear end goal can help us re-train our brains to be content with what is unknown or incomplete.

4. Mindful Movement: Practicing mindful movement, such as yoga or tai chi, can help you connect with your body and mind simultaneously. Similar to meditation, these practices promote relaxation and awareness of the present moment, as well as the added bonus of increased flexibility and a release of endorphins.

5. Digital Detox: Again, maybe I sound like a broken record, but limiting screen time and social media exposure can prevent information overload and give your mind the space it needs to quiet down. Allocate designated periods of the day to disconnect and engage in analogue activities, such as reading, baking or any of the four suggestions above.

6. Nature and Outdoors: Spending time in nature and immersing yourself in the beauty of the outdoors can have a soothing effect on your mind. Being out in nature can help you find peace amidst the mental clutter, because it allows for a sense of perspective when we witness the complexity of an ecosystem or the strength of a tree.

The Journey Starts Here

Quieting an overactive mind is a journey that requires patience and consistent effort. By implementing mindfulness practices, deep breathing exercises, creative activities, and other strategies mentioned above, you can gradually train your mind to find stillness and contentment. Remember, the goal isn't to eliminate all thoughts, but rather to create a harmonious balance where you can notice your thoughts and feelings but not let them rule you. With time and practice, you can foster a sense of tranquillity and contentment that enhances your overall well-being.

If you've read the above and are thinking you may need help unpicking some of the more prominent thoughts or feelings, or perhaps you've tried it all before but you still don't feel content, then consider seeking a therapist.

At FIR Counselling and Psychotherapy, I can guide you to better understand yourself and develop strategies that are tailored to you.

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