My brain is frazzled. Regularly. And most of the time, there seems to be no solution. So I stew. I stew when I should be working. I stew when I’m out with friends. I stew when I should be sleeping. So I don’t sleep. I don’t do anything properly. I’m not mindful of anything.
I started a new job the other day. It’s great to feel productive again after a five-month off sick break. It’s great to be feeling well enough to be productive. However, two days into my new job though, my brain was already flipping, flipping into an overdrive of over-worry, flipping into an overdrive of mentally ‘overdoing’ it. And all this without ever applying myself to anything single-mindedly.
So last night, my brain kept churning over new phrases. But instead of fretting about my health I was fretting about ‘going forward’, ‘appetite in the business for a change’, ‘optimising’, ‘time / effort analysis’ and ‘increasing effectiveness’.
After a long day, I didn’t prioritise my diet and I didn’t prioritise my ‘chill out’ time.
So when at the end of the long day, when it came to SWITCHING OFF, I simply put the telly on.
That’s what we’re told to do, aren’t we? We’re told to switch off our after work, switch off from stress and worries, switch off our minds, bodies and souls. And then the telly seems to be an easy option.
But the thing is: we’re organic. We don’t have a switch that can be just flicked on and off. It’s simply not possible! We’re not a light bulb. We can’t control numerous aspects of our physiology. We don’t have an absolute control over our brains.
Unless you’ve spent the last twenty years of your life meditating on some mountain top in Tibet.
I realised that by putting on television that didn’t engage myself in a positive way. I simply masked my mental (mis)activity for a while. The moment the telly went off, my mind reverted to fretting. I thought I had ‘switched it off’ but then it turns out I hadn’t at all.
So if you can’t switch off what do you do instead?
THERE’S ONE SIMPLE SOLUTION: POSITIVE ENGAGEMENT.
It’s about redirection. It’s about taking a positive step to engage your brain in an alternative way.
Brain is a bit like a relationship. What you put in, is what comes out. If you feed it a diet of unchallenging thoughts, worrying, negativity, and anger into it what do you expect will come out?
And the brain is a bit like a Labrador. It wants to be busy. It wants to be occupied. It wants to please.
I know that after reading a romantic book about mountain climbing, my imagination is fired. I am on that mountain. I summit with the other climbers. My soul feels enriched. My brain is happily wagging its tail.
I know that after a nice conversation with my friends, I feel warm and fuzzy inside. I feel supported and accepted. My brain tells me that there’s something very alright with the world, despite all the bad things that’s happened to me in my life.
And then I know that when my depression drives me to flick through Facebook photos of friends, thinking about how much happier their healthy lives are than mine, I’m miserable.
I know that when I don’t feed my brain with something positive, it will bite back with vengeance.
I know that when I neglect my brain by inactivity or laziness, it’ll find something to do on its own. And like an unruly teenager, it seems to pretty rubbish at it a lot of the time. We all need rules.
So instead of beating yourself about not being able to switch off, about your inability to switch from negative to positive thoughts, just stop.
And then be kind to yourself. Think about what you like doing and do it. You deserve it.
Engage your brain. Play a game with it. Life’s so hard anyway. Don’t make it harder for yourself. Smile. Play. Read. Talk. Watch a fun movie. Have fun. Solve puzzles. One step at a time.