How to help yourself when you think too much

Mayumii asks: Over these past few weeks, my boyfriend has noticed that I am very sad, I easily get mad, and one time I cried for no simple reason. And I lately, I think too much about many things. I am thinking about my work, may career, my future, myself, and my family. Because of these, my head get hurt. What should I do? I know the answer is simple, but I just want to have someone that’s willing to talk to me, even about simple things.

Hi Mayumii –

If I were to summarize all the thousands of letters I’ve written over the years, to humans all over the world, I would say “You think too much!  Pay more attention to your feelings!”  And would you believe, you’re the first person ever to write me saying that you think too much!  And asking what to do about it!

So the great thing is that you’re 95% there, just by your (and your boyfriend’s) awareness that this is the problem.  You’re thinking about all these things, and it’s making your head hurt.  But of course, these problems are real – you DO have questions about your career, about your future, about your family, and I’d never tell you to ignore them or pretend they didn’t matter.  They do!

But what you need is to

take breaks from them.

Imagine it’s 200 years ago, and you were building a home for your family in the wilderness.  You’d want to get it up as quickly as possible, to protect yourself from the elements and from wild animals and such, but you’d also want it to be strong and well-built.  So would you expect yourself to clear the land, saw the trees down, build the frame, build the walls, build the roof, build the doors, and make the furniture, all at once?  Of course not.  You’d expect it to take months, and you’d spend much of that time doing other things (such as eating and sleeping!).

Well you’re not trying to build a cabin right now; you’re trying to build a whole life!  And you’re not trying to do it with your back and your arms, but with your mind.  So you need to tell that mind of yours to give itself breaks, and often.

One way to do that, of course, is meditation, or prayer.  To give yourself some quiet time every day to close your eyes, breathe deeply, and let your mind run.  If you have a way you’re doing this already, that’s great, and I’d only suggest you do more of it.  But if not, five minutes a morning of deep breathing with your eyes closed will make a world of difference with all this.

Another, my favorite, is exercise.  Every scientific study shows that exercise is great for the body, and for the mind, releasing chemicals in the brain that keep you from depression, keep you alert, and help you think better.  Yet people are always saying “Oh I don’t have time for exercise,” or “I’m too tired for it.”  No, you really don’t have time to NOT exercise, and you’re so tired because you’re not doing it!  Even if you just start with a stroll around the block, moving your body really helps.  (I often think, beyond all our other wonderful qualities, one of the reasons having a dog makes people happier is that we force you to take us on walks!)

And then, go for what you know is good for you, just you.  When my human friend Handsome gets super-uptight, and overwhelmed with life, he finds it healing to sit down and watch an old horror movie from the 1930s or 40s. Why?  Well he loved them as a boy, and there’s something comforting in that.  And they’re sort of simple, and dramatic, and in their own way romantic.  But the main reason is because he knows they work!  For him, at those times. 

So what works for you?  Ice cream?  1990’s Rom-coms?  Singing along to reggae?  Going shopping?  Chasing squirrels?!!! (And note I don’t suggest getting drunk or using drugs – they won’t help at all, and likely would make things worse)

But what’s most important to remember here is that we’re not looking for what will keep you from ever thinking about those issues.  It’s just for what will give your brain a vacation, for an hour or two, and let it recharge.

So you can get back to building that beautiful home in the wilderness, the one called Mayumii’s Life!



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