There are benefits to being mindful and introspective.
However, when introspection turns into ruminating, many of us begin to feel that we’re stuck in our heads.
Ruminating is rarely a positive thing, but fortunately, there are many things you can do to stop ruminating and learn how to get out of your head.
Instead of overthinking, consider taking some of the steps below to shift your focus to more productive and positive things.
- What Does It Mean to Be in Your Head?
- How to Get Out of Your Head: 11 Practices to Embrace
- 1. Notice the outside world and spend some time in nature.
- 2. Get lost in a new TV series (or a good book).
- 3. Practice mindfulness and live in the moment.
- 4. Shift your focus to another person.
- 5. Start a journal to get negative thoughts out of your head.
- 6. Make a note of negative thinking patterns.
- 7. Start a meditation practice.
- 8. Speak your thoughts aloud to another person.
- 9. Don’t argue with yourself or fight with your thoughts.
- 10. Practice breathwork and focus on your breathing.
- 11. Get into intense workouts.
- Final Thoughts
What Does It Mean to Be in Your Head?
In some cases, being in your head is a good thing.
For example, being in the moment (mindfulness) or introspective is a natural and positive way to live because you can reflect and look inward.
However, if you find yourself obsessively contemplating, it can be harmful to your well-being.
What is obsessive rumination? In short, when you engage in it, you spend a lot of time in your head.
Here is what it means to be in your head.
- Trying repeatedly to clarify and understand a particular theme or thought
- Reliving past mistakes or perceived failures
- Going over past embarrassments over and over again
- Overthinking your behaviors
- Remembering painful experiences
- Re-running past conversations and trying to come up with better responses
- Analyzing incidents where someone slighted or mistreated you
- Reliving situations where you were abused
Unfortunately, people are wired for a negativity bias.
This bias is an evolutionary adaption meant to protect us from real or perceived threats.
However, the problem is that studies show you’re much less likely to feel happy if you spend a lot of time in your head.
How to Get Out of Your Head: 11 Practices to Embrace
If you’re wondering “how to get out of my head,” we’re here to help. Below are 11 practices that will help you stop ruminating and get out of your head.
1. Notice the outside world and spend some time in nature.
Anytime you shift your perspective, it can help you stop ruminating and get out of your head. Stepping out into nature can profoundly impact your focus because of the effect on your senses.
When you step outside, you will hear and see new things; sometimes, even your sense of smell can be affected.
If you have a pet, you can take them outside for some fresh air. Be sure to take in the sky, trees, grass, rocks, and everything else around you.
Spending a little time outside daily is beneficial, regardless of where you live.
2. Get lost in a new TV series (or a good book).
Have you ever looked around after finishing a movie or an engaging TV show? If the show was captivating enough, you probably forgot where you were while watching it.
As we become engrossed in the plot and characters of a good show or movie, we temporarily get out of our heads and into what we see on the screen.
Getting lost in a good book is equally enjoyable. It’s nearly impossible to ruminate when you’re caught up in the lives of fictional characters.
While this can be seen as escapism, there’s nothing wrong with it unless it consumes all of your time. TV shows, movies, and page-turning novels are great ways to unwind and relax.
3. Practice mindfulness and live in the moment.
In recent years, there has been a lot of buzz around mindfulness or being “in the moment.”
We live more hectic lives than ever, and everyone tries to pack more than 24 hours into a day. The result is that people have become so caught up in what will happen next that they forget to focus on what’s happening right now.
If you overthink, you have the same problem, but your focus is on things that have come and gone. Meanwhile, you’re missing out on the good things that are happening today.
Try to declutter your mind with breathwork or meditation to become more mindful. This will put the focus on your current possibilities.
4. Shift your focus to another person.
An excellent way to get out of your head is by focusing your attention on another person.
When you focus on someone else, you also add value to their life and the relationship.
Here are some things you can do to focus on someone else.
- Call a family member to see if they need help with anything.
- See if you can take some of the load off of a co-worker.
- Look around your community and see if you can be of service.
5. Start a journal to get negative thoughts out of your head.
Speaking our negative thoughts aloud can help us get them out of our heads, and writing them down in a journal can have the same effect.
People have kept a diary or journal for all recorded history, and there’s a good reason for that. There’s something therapeutic about writing our thoughts down on paper with a pen or pencil.
To start journaling, you can use a journal or a notebook you find around the house.
We recommend using paper and a writing device instead of a digital tool, but if typing out your negative thoughts works for you, go for it.
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6. Make a note of negative thinking patterns.
Negative thoughts don’t have to control your life. In fact, these worrisome thoughts are well-known and identifiable if you know what you’re looking for.
Here are the most common negative thought patterns.
- Overgeneralization: A single event defines your defeat.
- All-or-nothing thinking: If you fail at one thing, you see yourself as a complete failure.
- Disqualifying the positive: Positive events don’t count as much as negative events.
- Jumping to conclusions: Even if facts don’t support a negative conclusion, we often jump to that.
- Mental filter: The darling of rumination, mental filters force us to focus on one negative detail and exclusively dwell on it.
- Catastrophizing or minimization: This involves exaggerating the importance of some things or minimizing the importance of others.
- Should statements: This type of statement induces guilt, along with “oughts” and “musts.”
- Emotional reasoning: Emotional reasoning is the assumption that the way you feel “must be true,” even if, in reality, it isn’t.
7. Start a meditation practice.
The benefits of meditation are well-documented, and meditation can help with physical pain, better concentration, emotional pain, stress, anxiety, and even empathy.
Part of meditation is focusing on your breathing, but that’s just the first stage of meditation practice. The second part is turning off the noise inside of your head.
Long-term, mediation can change the way the brain functions, and studies have confirmed that meditation deactivates the parts of the brain that are associated with mind-wandering and ruminating.
The good news is that with meditation apps, guided audio meditations, or free YouTube meditations, you can start meditating immediately.
8. Speak your thoughts aloud to another person.
Thoughts are powerful, and the longer we live alone with our negative thoughts, the more burdensome they become.
Living alone in your head with your thoughts can lead to depression, anxiety, and more. Once you speak them aloud to someone else, you will feel less alone.
Speaking your negative thoughts aloud takes away much of their energy and power. You can consider a trusted friend, family member, or even a therapist to find someone to talk to. Support groups are also an excellent option.
9. Don’t argue with yourself or fight with your thoughts.
One of the things people learn in therapy is that there are no “wrong” thoughts.
While thoughts are mental representations, we don’t have a lot of control over what crosses our minds from day to day. We can control how much attention or importance we attach to our thoughts.
It can be stressful and exhausting when you argue with your thoughts because you’re arguing inside your own head.
Try acknowledging the thoughts without judgment and then allow them to float away quietly.
10. Practice breathwork and focus on your breathing.
When you meditate, you pay attention to your breath, but even outside of meditation, breathwork is relaxing and can help you shift your focus.
The chances are that if you’re focusing on your breath, you won’t be ruminating and overthinking about painful or complicated issues in your life.
When you inhale, imagine that you’re breathing in creative energy and calmness.
As you breathe, you can also take some time to focus on gratitude. Shifting your focus from ruminating to the blessings in your life can make a huge difference in how you think long-term.
11. Get into intense workouts.
There’s a reason some people are passionate about exercising and working out. Besides the obvious health benefits, exercising is also therapeutic because of the endorphins it helps your body to release.
When you’re exercising, you’re likely to be focused on what your body is doing. For example, you’ll be feeling your muscles stretch, and you may even anticipate how you’ll feel the next day physically.
A physically demanding exercise requires determination and focus. In most cases, you’ll probably become separate from your thoughts as your focus shifts to your body. Also, when you exercise, you’ll have higher serotonin and dopamine levels.
Although strenuous exercise can help you get out of your head, you can also achieve the same goals with low-impact workouts such as yoga or walking.
Being in your head can sometimes be positive if you’re reflective and mindful. However, spending too much time in your head while fighting your feelings and inner thoughts can make you feel worse.
When you follow these 11 practices to get out of your head, you will experience more happiness, inner peace, and fulfillment.