Unclutter your mind, do more stuff-how to distract a busy mind and find enjoyment in the process

The problem with thinking is thinking. To think something through is a dangerous pastime, for it loops and loops and then starts to tangle in your thoughts and before you know it, it is all consuming and you’re no further forward than when you started. Too much time spent idle gives your brain opportunity to examine and reexamine, to tumble and whirl and dissect and invent.

Ever feel physically tired out, just by the amount of thinking that you’ve been doing? Emotions, tough times, stress and even just having a lot on can send our minds into overdrive, leaving us drained, uninspired, lethargic and craving a break. If you’ve ever felt like this, read on. There’s something we can do.

Why examining your feelings isn’t always the best way forward
There’s only so much thinking you can do. I’m one for getting so entangled in a situation, my head feels like it wants to explode. (Although it might just be my INFP coming out!) I end up having looked at every possible situation, from every angle, and have no idea what the best way to move forward is.

Now, I have one simple solution. I go for a long, long, long walk. Or run. Or I take my camera and go and find some minibeasts or birds. Or I plant some seedlings or plug n’ grows. Or I shadow box ’till my shoulders hurt. Or I mow the lawn or clean my walking shoes or sketch or just drive in my car with my music turned up to 11. In fact, I do pretty much anything to distract myself from what I feel I ‘should’ be thinking about. And guess what? It only flipping works.

Distraction is your friend
Ever felt better after sleeping on a decision? Gone to bed emotional and tired, only to wake and see things with clarity? For years we’ve been told ‘it’ll all seem better in the morning’. Or to get out for some fresh air to ‘clear your head’. And there’s some truth in this- it might not be the difference in the ‘air’, but the change in scenery and attention focus can do amazing things. Brains are crazily astounding and seem to continue to process information even when we’re not paying attention to it. Even after a small period of distraction, I find I can look at problems much more objectively and with more motivation. Over-thinking can sometimes be the enemy. Try it. If you’re stuck for inspiration whilst writing, or agonising over a decision, try taking a hike in some beautiful scenery, just pop to the local shop, read a chapter of fiction, even (gasp) watch a 30 minute sitcom to give your overworked brain some downtime. Yes, you read right, I’m actually recommending a tv programme! Of course, there’s always podcasts, radio, YouTube and Vimeo instead. Set a timer and try not to get sucked in! Remember 10 TV minutes = 30 real time minutes, haha. (Seriously…where does the time go?!)

Sometimes, keeping busy is the key
From a personal perspective, I used to sit and think a lot. A lot a lot. I thought analysing everything was how it was meant to be. But in the end it just got me down and tired. Since then, I’m much more busy with my ‘free range’ lifestyle (kudos to Marianne Cantwell here), and I find that as I focus on a few main, important areas, I can make decisions about each one a lot more easily. I take breaks, I keep moving, I eat a lot better and I feel great.

Adventures clear your mind
The more adventurous you become, the more your world view changes. I find it almost gives me an outside perspective on the direction my life is going. I love each and every day, spending time outdoors and exploring and keeping my mind active and curious. Adventure has given me clarity and changed my mindset as to just what is possible. I still find myself, every now and then, churning over worries in my head. But it’s no longer anything that a walk in torrential rain or a night under the stars can’t fix.