When I can’t stop the thoughts that go round and round, I have found two things that help a lot. I write the thoughts down in my journal until I have them all out and the second, I started running. I find physical exercise really helps me.
Many nights I would wake up and my brain would be running flat out and in circles. I was exhausted. On those nights, I turn on the television with a timer and the volume way down low. Listening helps me stop the monkey chatter in my brain and pretty soon I am asleep.
I have a friend who is a Buddhist and she taught me how to chant. Now when my brain is too busy and I think I am going to go crazy, I chant. I can’t believe how much it helps.
When my thoughts are obsessive, I want to break up the constant drone in my head. Being in nature helps me. If I can’t get outside, I use meditation to imagine a forest. I close my eyes, breathe deeply for a few moments and slowly bring my attention to the details of what the forest is like. I hear the birds, smell the trees and feel the breeze on my skin. After a few minutes I feel like I have had a break. I can go to this forest as often as I need to.
I remind myself that they are just thoughts caught in a loop. I look for ways to interrupt the repetition like reading something inspirational or practical about how to change perspectives.
Many of my obsessive thoughts are negative self-talk. I don’t want to hurt myself anymore, so just recognizing that I am caught in the vicious cycle can help me feel some compassion for myself. Having compassion for myself is different from feeling sorry for myself. Having compassion feels more active, positive, powerful. And, if I can be compassionate with myself, I am more likely to have compassion for others and that is what I really want.
I needed help to break up the obsessive thinking in my brain. I was really resistant to drugs because I thought I should be able to manage on my own, that being medicated is for losers. A friend of mine told me her story and suggested that drugs could help me by providing a reference point for what it is like not to be stuck in the bad thinking. I didn’t feel judged by her and that allowed me to seek out a doctor who prescribed some anti-anxiety medication. It has really helped. Sometimes we need extra help, it has to be okay to acknowledge that.
I use a scooter to get around. When I am going in circles in my brain, I will go outside and roam the neighbourhood. The sense of freedom eases my anxiety. I can outrun the runners!
There are lots of places that aren’t accessible to me and I can get stuck in obsessive thinking about what all that I can’t do. When this is happening, I go to my kitchen, which is totally accessible with counter heights, labelled proper lighting and easy reach for everything I need. This is one place where I can lose myself (in a good way) in the task of creating food for the folks I love…including myself.