“Thinking has, many a time, made me sad, darling; but doing never did in all my life…My precept is, do something, my sister, do good if you can; but at any rate, do something,” wrote Elizabeth Gaskell.
There’s nothing wrong with thinking. It helps us to make sense of the world, come to intelligent conclusions, and dive deeper into ourselves and the universe. The problem comes when our thinking gets in the way of our doing. Thinking and doing need to be kept in balance. Like all things in life, these human powers are best exercised in moderation.
Don’t become trapped in your own thoughts. Don’t give them the power to paralyze you.
Here are three ways to stop yourself from falling into a mental tailspin:
1. Practice Mindfulness
When you embrace the current moment, you become more physically and mentally present. This can stop you from getting too far lost in your own internal world. Engage with your environment. Take it all in. Use as many senses as possible. Notice without judging. Mindfulness exercises can help you to stay in the present. They are known to reduce anxiety, increase happiness, and bring about a sense of peace.
Why not give them a shot?
While mindfulness connects your mind with the world around you, meditation allows your focus to turn inward. This may seem counter-intuitive. How can sitting with nothing but your thoughts help you to get away from them? It won’t. It will, however, allow you to connect with them, understand them, and work through them. Meditation is easier than you think. It benefits your body, mind, and spirit. Engaging in this practice regularly can help you to overcome runaway thinking for good.
3. Go Outside
Spending time in nature can be therapeutic – and you don’t have to commit to a full weekend of camping to reap the benefits. Engage with the outdoors in a way that makes sense to you. Have a picnic lunch in the park. Paint the mountains from a lookout point. Swim in a lake. Take your kids on a hike through the woods. Sit under a tree and get lost in a good book. Go for run with your favorite music. The best way to experience the natural world is the one that connects with you personally.
“I think and think and think, I‘ve thought myself out of happiness one million times, but never once into it,” wrote Jonathan Safran Foer.
Don’t think your own happiness away.
It’s all too easy to allow your mind to drown out your heart and your spirit. Use the three exercises above and keep your thoughts and actions in balance. Quiet your mind, and peace is sure to find you.