“We are slowly killing ourselves by thinking about everything. Think. Think. Think. You can never trust the human mind, anyway. It’s a death trap.” ~ Anthony Hopkins
I’ve always been an overthinker.
However, with age, like every human characteristic, it gets worse if it is not controlled. Overthinking has created problems and scenarios for me that did not even exist. I nearly lost people who mean the world to me because of my anxiety that turns into paranoia real quick.
One minute I’m as cute as a teddy bear, the next I’m still a toy, but something more like “Chucky” or “Anabelle.” Not knowing what’s going on, my loved ones would assume I am moody, too sensitive, or that I simply take things personally. As for those who are not as close, they would think of schizophrenia as the answer to the riddle when in fact, it is just my overthinking—analyzing every word, action, status on Facebook, text message, and blowing it out of proportion.
It hit me hard when I lost someone whom I really respected, liked, looked up to, trusted, got along with, and who knew exactly how to deal with my overthinking issues. I’ve realized how hurtful it can be to overthink something and accuse our loved ones of things that have no basis, except the scenario in our heads. The worst part is when I lay in my bed for hours, quoting Sir Anthony, “Killing myself by overthinking everything.”
That’s when I’ve decided it is vital for me to find ways to quiet and calm my mind and if they work, I would share them with others just because I know how painful it can be not being able to stop thinking without going insane.
Cleaning and decluttering. Years ago, as a teenager, I read in an interview with Julia Roberts that she washes the dishes with hot water to calm down. I laughed so hard back then until I realized that hot water and bubbles have that effect on me, as well, not only in a tub with me in it.
Whether I am cleaning the windows, doing laundry, folding, dusting, washing, or even tidying up, I am so focused on the task in hand that my mind becomes automatically calm and quiet. Meditating while doing housework is really underrated.
Cooking and baking. I started helping mom out in the kitchen when I was only 11 and I noticed that it made me happy. Then, as grown-ups, we make excuses to avoid the kitchen until we realize again how fun it can be.
When I am cooking or baking, I am quite attentive, especially that there’s fire and knives around, so anything can happen. Moreover, the sweet aromas of herbs and spices help soothe this “overactive” mind of mine.
Reading and writing. Nothing calms my mind like words—more specifically the words I can see. Whenever I am immersed in a good book or article, every inch of my being is involved. Those who say that reading is a stress-relief know what they are talking about. It is even better when I am writing where I am in control of everything going on in the mental realm. That is why my next goal is to write a book that I can read later; two birds in one stone.
Gardening and watering plants. I used to make fun of my mother and sister who love gardening. The only “plant” I ever had was a cactus. I never understood why would anyone feel anything around dirt until I started helping out in the garden. Meditating while watering a living thing is truly vitalizing. The smell of the soil and flowers only make the whole experience more rewarding. Plus, who wouldn’t want to eat organic produce from their own garden?
Going for walks. We all know the many benefits of jogging, cycling, hiking, or simply walking. However, when I have recently started meditating while going on long walks, I have discovered that it is a great way to calm racing ideas in my mind and burn fat on my bum—it is a win-win.
Moreover, when I stopped overthinking while going on my walks, I started noticing my surroundings, old houses, beautiful greenery, clouds, colorful flowers, and birds. Some discoveries might look trivial and yet, can change our lives.
Coloring and drawing. Everyone has a talent or two, and I am no exception, unless we are talking about drawing. If I wanted to draw a dog, it would look more like a tree with a tail. I admire artists and works of art, but I am not one.
I recall that coloring used to keep me busy for hours as a child and that I enjoyed it, so why not do it as an adult. After all, we never really grow up. Today, I know I will never be Frida Kahlo or Vincent Van Gogh, but I can still use colors to calm my mind and meditate while doing something I enjoy.
Learning a new skill. I love learning new languages. It all started after a painful event in my life, when I was so focused on the new words and cultures that I was being exposed to, that I forgot to think of the “misfortune.” Whenever we do things automatically, we overthink at the same time. However, when we are learning something new that requires our full potential, the overthinking has to naturally stop.
I would suggest knitting, sewing, pottery, carpentry, playing an instrument, or simply taking classes like writing, acting, or dancing.
Pets. Last but not least, there is nothing more enjoyable to me than feeding strays—except maybe petting a cat that’s purring or playing with dogs that wag their tails and stick their tongues out. We think it makes them happy when in fact, it calms us down in a way we can never really explain. It is amazing what this interaction can do.
The power of living and being in the moment fully is a superpower that we take for granted. The only way to be able to be in the moment is to train the mind to be calm and understand that this kind of race is exhausting and we might never win it.