My brain is stuffed with worries. I harvest them every day. From fears of misfortune, to fluff such as what I said to a friend two months ago, my brain’s primary export is worry. I try to be a nice person. I think everyone does. But that doesn’t mean we always succeed.
So, how are we supposed to deal with our soggy regrets?
I’m guilty of ruminating. Cycling, a term my Dad and I use, refer to the circles my thoughts make when they refuse to leave my head. Round and round they go, poking me, overstaying their welcome. But despite my best efforts, and many experiments, just letting my thoughts run doesn’t make them go away. Sometimes I need outside intervention.
So how do we get rid of unwelcome thoughts?
While I’m no expert, here are a few tips that have worked for me.
1. Grab a journal and scribble
No seriously. You don’t even have to write down words. Just the act of taking a pen, squeezing it, and scratching squiggles can be freeing. Thoughts love to bottle up inside. When they do, at least in my experience, they cause your muscles to tense. Finding a way to pop that emotional cork is a necessity. You can write out real words or draw something specific if you wish. But I find that coming up with the right words or the right images to explain myself is a lot of pressure. So when your brain is pressing in, don’t worsen it by stressing yourself out more. Just let your fingers do the work and make something. Even if it's not a beautiful poem, your scribbles are still valid. They’re another way to externalise your feelings. We have control of what’s outside of us. When you’re done you can rip the page up, throw it away, or do whatever you want. They’re your feelings after all.
2. Jump and dance
Put on a song that makes you feel. It doesn’t matter what the feeling is, it just has to be a strong one. Then find a private place and let your body move. Take your excess energy and release it. It doesn’t matter if you look ridiculous. The point is to shake your body like a snowglobe. Flick your anxiety away with every movement. Tire your brain out. Think of it like a screaming toddler. The best way to calm it down is to tire them out. Dance until all you can think about is food or sleep.
3. Swish and flick
If you don’t have any space, or live on the second floor, I have another trick for you (My Mom taught me this one). Picture a room. One wall will be the front of your brain, your forehead, and the other will be the back of your skull. Now without moving, push all of your bad thoughts to the front. Squish them together like playdough. Once they’re stuffed in a ball, put your fingers to your forehead and pick up the ball. Then, like the silvery string memories in Harry Potter, imagine pulling your thoughts out of your head and then flick them across the room. Boom, your thoughts are external. They can’t hurt you now. Throwing my worries away lets my brain know that I’m done chasing my anxieties. It takes a few attempts, but after a bit my brain slows down. I hope yours does too.
My soggy regrets love to pile up. Yes I have anxiety. And OCD. And plenty of mistakes that dance around my head. But what I’m trying to learn is that these thoughts don’t define me. Yes, they are present, but they’re not all I am. If I think otherwise, then I’ll never have the space to think about the present or the future. We are busy people. My mistakes are mine, but they’re not my everything.
Written by: Hannah MorleyInstagram: @HannahZMorley