How to Stop Being Trapped in Your Own Mind
It can be very easy to become trapped in your own mind. You overthink things, become trapped by your own thoughts, and see a vicious cycle develop which you are unable to escape. You might find yourself overthinking everything, procrastination, experiencing indecisiveness, losing track of time, overanalysing events, struggling to focus and concentrate, and experiencing tension and sleep problems.
It can often arise as a response to anxiety and stress.
However, there are quite a few things you can do to combat It. There are some relatively simple, though not necessarily easy, things you can do to open yourself up and become a fuller part of the world around you.
What to do if you’re trapped in your own mind
Practice mindfulness and observe your thoughts
This is one of the most important things you can do to overcome your own mind prison and break the cycle of entrapment. You can learn to recognise when you are overthinking things. Similarly, you can figure out when your own thoughts are overwhelming you, or when you are hidden behind a brain fog.
Write down how you feel when you realise that you’re overthinking things. Make a list of the symptoms, signs, and feelings you experience whenever you find yourself trapped in your own mind. If you have people around you, listen to them when they tell you that you seem distant or distracted.
The more you do this, the easier you will find it to become aware of when you’re becoming trapped in your own mind.
This mindfulness is incredibly useful. From here, you can become the observer of your own thoughts. This is a term or technique often used in yoga. It involves stepping back from yourself and watching yourself and your thoughts. It is very effective for breaking free from your own mind.
In observing your own thoughts, you can answer some pressing questions. For example, what are you overthinking about? Is there something specific that bothers you? Or is there a particular mood or trigger that shuts you off from the world? Does it happen in specific circumstances or at particular times?
Answer these questions. Watch the thoughts as they unfold. Learn more about yourself and how your brain works. This is the first step in changing your behaviour. It can help you to prioritize things you can control whilst subordinating things you can’t.
And remember, you can always control your reactions. Or, at least, you can learn to when you stay mindful and observe your own thoughts.
Isolate issues that keep you trapped in your own mind
Priorities matter in life. They matter in ordering your thoughts.
Obsessive thought is essentially an inability to prioritise things, after all. You give too much of your focus and attention to one or two issues that may only really need a minor portion of your attention. This can leave you trapped in your own mind.
If this sounds like you you can try to ringfence things. Work out how much time you want to spend on an issue, how much it warrants. Set time limits on how much attention you’ll give to it. When the time limit is up, try to set it to one side.
It’s hard to do, but practice will make it easier.
If you become obsessed with problems, try to work out how to respond to them in ways that address them even if they don’t actually fix things.
For example, if you’re ill but you’ve got a large workload on, try not to obsess over the time you think you’re wasting during recovery. Call your boss, co-workers, or clients, and explain the issue to them. You will still be time poor and will still likely have a large workload when you’re back on your feet. However, everybody will be in the loop, there is nothing more you can do, and you can try to relax.
You have done something, as much as you can, even though it may not have got rid of the problems. It will be better than chasing your worries and concerns around your own head.
Again, easier said than done, but well worth practicing if you’re trapped in your own mind.
Be kinder to yourself
Self-castigation – punishing and criticising yourself – can be both a common cause and effect of being trapped in your own mind. It’s time to stop. It’s time to be kinder to yourself.
As with many things, you will probably find this easier said than done. However, try, practice, get better at it, and you’ll see improvements.
As we have seen, stress and anxiety can often trap you in your own mind. You can overcome a lot of this stress and anxiety by smiling, telling yourself the good and positive things you are and do, and learning to cut yourself a little slack.
Cut down on stimulation
We are all overstimulated. This can be very rewarding. It’s also very stressful. It can cause anxiety and leave you trapped you in your own mind as you reach overstimulation.
Cut down the stimulation you can. You could begin with caffeine. It’s a stressor. In fact, its whole purpose is to put your body and mind into a fight-or-flight response. This will kick up your adrenaline and energy levels. It will also increase your cortisol levels, leaving you anxious and jittery.
You should definitely consider cutting out caffeine in the hours leading up to bedtime if becoming trapped in your own mind is causing you sleeplessness.
In fact, you should try to unwind as fully as possible before bed. Your brain will need time to switch off and calm down, withdrawing from the day’s various forms of overstimulation. By cutting stimulation, you will sleep better, which in turn will help in reducing anxiety and stress levels. It will lead to improved overall health and life quality whilst giving you the wherewithal to escape your mind’s traps.
Try to work out what stresses you out and what is relaxing. To remove stress, try not watching TV, looking at your phone, or otherwise engaging with technology for an hour or so before bed. Don’t do any work. To actively relax, try listening to soothing music, practicing yoga or meditation, or even simply reading with the lights a little dimmed.
Getting into your physical self can be a great way to overcome an overworked mental self. Exercise can therefore be a great way to overcome yourself if you keep getting trapped in your own mind.
Firstly, there are some biological components at work. Physical activity releases endorphins. These can make you happier and calmer. They can help you to overcome depression, which often lies behind things when you find yourself trapped in your own mind. It also gives you a good adrenaline kick, which can help to cut through brain fog.
Secondly, it can give your life structure and routine. This will lower anxiety levels and keep you from indecision. You will have fewer variables in your life as you plan everything out.
Finally, exercise in its very nature is a very present focused, physical activity. It can free you. It allows you to live in the moment. In fact, it forces you to. It therefore makes for a great way to escape your own mind if you habitually find yourself getting trapped there.
Getting trapped in your own mind through addiction recovery
As we have seen, anxiety, stress and depression underpin a lot of the reasons we get trapped in our own heads. These are also usually present during addiction recovery. In fact, you may have been using drugs or alcohol to combat them, to get out of your mind (literally and in the sense in which we are talking).
Removing this intoxication and adding the stress of recovery can get you trapped in your own mind. It is therefore very important that you find some coping mechanisms, some healthy ways to overcome your tendency to get trapped in your own mind.
The above all work, though there are plenty more out there. Experiment with them. Pick a couple that seem to work for you and see how it makes you feel. You should find yourself experiencing less anxiety and perhaps more clarity. Hopefully, it will feel like you’ve found the key to a prison door.
All you need to do next is make sure you walk through that open door.
Connect with like-minded others
Addiction recovery can be a lonely place unless you have others by your side that understand the way in which you tick. These people will have similar experiences and thought processes to you. They will have overcome many of the challenges you face.
You can connect with a circle of likeminded others, attend meetings or simply chat by joining our free Recovery Community, here at Recoverlution
- NHS every mind matters, mental health: https://www.nhs.uk/every-mind-matters/mental-health-issues/anxiety/