Our brain is a very interesting and powerful organ. Whatever we feed it can make or break us. Our minds soak up a lot of information including the thoughts that we have and if we are not consciously filtering our thoughts, they can really take over us. Sometimes this process is slow, or we do not recognize how we are shaping our brain, but it truly does eventually have a great impact.
Have you ever been thinking of something, or worried about something and then before you know it you are thinking about that thought over and over again? Or, maybe your mind may have thought up many new thoughts that led to other thoughts and then you forgot the one you were originally thinking about! Our minds can take a thought and run with it if we let it.
You may have heard of the terms hamster wheel and snowball effect. Both describe what happens to our brain when we overthink, or think in an anxious manner. The hamster wheel basically describes how someone persistently thinks the same thoughts over and over again, but gets nowhere because their thoughts go around and around in circles like a hamster running on a hamster wheel. The snowball effect states that our thoughts continue to gain momentum and power the more that we keep thinking. Like a snowball that gets bigger as it rolls down a hill, the thoughts keep gaining speed and power as it collects more momentum, our thoughts are fueling more thoughts.
These patterns of thinking happen to all of us, but I feel like they may be more common in individuals that are deep-thinkers, or are prone to anxiety. I know that I fall into both of these categories and once my mind gets going, it can be very hard to get it to stop. I have found ways that have helped though. First, it helps to calm the mind from all of the racing thoughts. Ways to do this include meditation, focusing on your breathing, observing details in the objects around the room you are in, anything that can shift your brain away from the current thoughts you are having. Once your mind is calmer, then you can put your energy into a project, or your to-do list, keeping active to avoid overthinking too much. If your mind was running because you were pondering a decision, or because of a question that you have, once you have relaxed some, try to look at the decision or question at hand logically and try to remove as much emotion as possible. Try to be mindful when your mind starts to wander astray from focusing just on the task at hand, which is to solve your question, or make a decision.
It is definitely easier said than done, but try not to let your mind run away on you! I still struggle with this often, but it really does rob one of a peaceful day. Having some control of the mind makes for a much easier way of life!