We show you how to stay in control when the whole world wants your attention
The world we live in today, more than ever before, is a world of constant information and continuous thinking. We can satisfy our curiosity in seconds, entertain ourselves whenever we like, and very few questions we have go unanswered. But in a world of information, constant updates, live feeds and data analytics, sometimes it feels impossible to take a pause from thinking and quiet our minds. What we really need to think about is how much we’re overthinking.
The human mind is pretty “wavy” as the kids are saying these days. Let’s all take a moment to bask in how great our brains are. Our ability to think ahead, plan and multitask are cognitive traits that separate us from animals. We can write poetry, solve problems and mull over the meaning of over life. No brain in the animal kingdom compares to ours. In fact, our brain is “the most complex structure in the universe.” Feeling big headed yet? The question is, do we have control of these incredible cognitive machines that live inside our heads and control everything we do? Our brains use up 20% of our body’s energy, so if we don’t give our mind a break it’s no wonder we start to feel drained.
Many of us are guilty of forming habits where processing lots of information and multitasking becomes normal. Before we were constantly plugged in, we could just watch a film, eat our breakfast or go to bed. Now we’ll be watching a film while messaging a friend, eating our breakfast while scrolling through the news, and reading work emails in our pyjamas before we turn out the light. There’s always something there to distract us and always a beep or a vibration in the background of our daily lives. With all this multitasking, scattered concentration and disrupted thinking it’s easy to feel like you’re being pulled in lots of different directions at the same time. Scarily, information-overload begins to feel normal, and it actually becomes more and more difficult to stop thinking and switch off.
What does too much thinking mean for our health & wellbeing?
Constantly being plugged in and switched on can affect many aspects of our health and the way we live our lives. Some of the things you might notice are:
Tips & Hints: What can we do to quiet our minds?
It might seem daunting to break the habit of constant thinking, but there are many things we can do to quiet our minds and recover from information overload. Here are some of our top tips:
Watch your moves: The first step to change is recognition. Recognise when you’re getting caught up in unnecessary thinking. Catch yourself when there are no breaks in your thoughts and you’re starting to feel like your mind is running away with itself.
Create a pause in your thinking: As soon as you’ve recognised that you can’t remember experiencing a break from thinking - take one, right there and then. Create a pause. Smile to yourself and recognise that you are in control of your mind and your thinking. The more pauses and gaps you create, the more control you gain.
Shift your focus: from your mind to your body. You can do this in two ways:
- Focus on breathing in regular intervals - a bit like you would in yoga. Feel the rise and fall of your breath. Focus on the stream of air you’re taking in and out. Do this for a few breaths and you’ll start to feel more and more relaxed.
- Feel the energy in your body - try not to overthink this one. Instead, focus on feeling the tingling sensation of being alive in your body. Feel the energy flowing around yourself. This energy flow around your body sounds like a bit of a strange thing to focus on, but we promise it helps in feeling more centered.
Remember that focus is better than too much thinking: Thinking hard or “efforting” (seriously, it’s a word - it means working hard) can be counter-effective. You’ll be much more likely to achieve your goals if you take a more centered approach and focus on one thing at a time. Creativity doesn’t come from a busy, multi-tasking, worn out mind.
Have a blackout: Set aside a “blackout” night once a week, over a weekend, or even for an entire week to unplug from technology and detach yourself from the news. Immerse yourself in some other activities and leave your technology behind so that you and your mind can refresh and recharge. It’s great to do this with a friend or family member so that you can focus on enjoying some quality time together too (plus it will make it less tempting to cheat!)
Our favourite tools to help you find that quiet space:
Biofeedback: technology can be the source of much of our overthinking, but it can also provide tools to help us live healthy and more balanced lives. We find HeartMath’s Inner Balance a great way to keep in-check with the inner workings of our minds. You simply take a few minutes a day to observe your state and check-in with yourself, and as you create a daily habit of self-consciousness the tool will help you to monitor how this is affecting and perhaps changing the way you feel.
A good book: We recommend The Power of Now by Eckart Tolle. This great read reminds us to be more present in our everyday lives. It’s a solid resource to keep on your shelf and pick up from time to time. We love listening to the audiobook as well, whenever we’re starting to feel the need to be more present.
Meditation: the benefits of starting a practice of meditation are endless. By giving your mind some TLC through meditation you can reduce stress, spark creativity and increase focus. If you’re new to meditation, check out the Headspace app and website. Try out some guided meditation for 10 minutes a day, and, as our friends at Headspace say: “Treat Your Head Right.”