the back of a woman's head with a city in the background.

How to Get out of Your Head: 9 Ways to Return to Reality

Amber Murphy

Being in our heads can be good for us. It helps with general clarification, problem-solving and future planning along with a wide array of other things. But other times, we can feel like we’re a prisoner to our thoughts. Sometimes, it can reach a point where all we want is to figure out how to get out of our head.

Overthinking can potentially lead to an increase in mental health problems such as anxiety and stress disorders. This typically only occurs as a result of overthinking about the past or worrying about the future.

Being in your head can potentially be your enemy but it may not be, the answer to this is dependent on your circumstances and what it is precisely you’re overthinking about. In not so good circumstances, getting out of your head can be difficult and may even feel impossible.

In this article, I will go over numerous strategies you can implement into your daily life that will further help you get out of your head.

9 Ways to Get out of Your Head

1. Meditate

Practicing meditation to get out of your head

Meditation is extremely beneficial for a wide array of reasons and can be done to enhance mental clarity, mental and physical awareness and emotional peace. In some areas of the world, meditation is an everyday practice, this is for good reason.

Practicing meditation enables you to clear your head from any intrusive thoughts negatively impacting your headspace. In turn, this will lower stress levels, reduce feelings of anxiety and will deliver a clearer mindset overall helping you think more clearly so you can better control your emotions.

There are numerous types of meditation and it doesn’t matter which one you go with, it only matters what works best for you. Research through the numerous options and see what works for you but always keep in mind, meditation is not about the pose or setting, it’s about your mindset.

Meditation is best done upon waking up and going to bed. This will allow for a clearer and more mentally refreshing start to the morning that could potentially last until bedtime. Doing this before bed will ensure a well-rested sleep which will only benefit you in the long run. So, pick a meditation technique and start today!

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2. Try an intense workout

A focused intense workout

A physically demanding task will not only benefit you physically but mentally. Taking part in physical activity will require focus and determination. The practice of both these aspects will greatly help focus your mindset onto something more positive furthermore helping you get out of your head.

An intense workout will not only separate you from your thoughts, but it will also encourage higher dopamine and serotonin levels. Your brain releases Dopamine, a chemical released when you take part in pleasurable activities such as eating, drinking, sex and exercise. This increase in dopamine is precisely what makes you feel good after taking part in activities like this.

Serotonin on the other hand, is a chemical responsible for feelings of happiness, joy and peace. These feelings may arise when you work hard and accomplish your goals such as a pay rise, a successful job interview or an intense workout.

The combination of the release of these two chemicals alongside the distraction that takes place during an intense workout makes for a very productive method that can help anyone get out of their head and stop the constant stream of thoughts.

3. Pay more attention to the outside world

Intentionally shifting your attention from your thoughts to the world around you is a very quick and easy method to utilize. This strategy will require you to focus on your sight and hearing. By doing this you not only draw your sense of consciousness into a different spectrum, but you also preoccupy your mind into focusing on the outside world as opposed to being in your head.

This strategy can be used anytime and anyplace and is especially helpful when trying to relax at night before bed. This like many aspects of our lives will become more effective with practice, so whenever you have the opportunity, do it!

To effectively utilize this method, begin by listening. Close your eyes and listen to the sounds that surround you. Listen to every detail and every sound you can hear, then open your eyes. Take note of the fact that the sound hasn’t changed and focus your gaze on everything in sight all at once.

Without even realizing it, the moment you began doing this you had already left your headspace. As mentioned earlier, this method can be utilized anywhere and works instantly making it a very effective method for those who need to urgently leave their headspace.

4. Focus entirely on your breathing

Focus on the breath when you're struggling to figure out how to get out of your head

This advice is very outdated but still commonly recommended by mental health professionals alone, why is this? This is because it works! By shifting all your focus onto your breathing, you instantaneously leave that potentially negative headspace you were resided in.

This strategy works in another way as well. When you shift your breathing rate into a slower more controlled tempo, and deep breaths, you trick the brain into relaxing. This means for lowered cortisol levels, a slight increase in serotonin and overall feelings of relaxation.

When the body is in an anxious state, blood pressure rises, the heartbeat increases and your breathing elevates. By purposefully slowing down your breathing in anxious or non-anxious situations, you immediately signal to the body that nothing is wrong and there is no reason to worry.

In conclusion, the distraction that accompanies this focused breathing method, alongside the mentally and physically relaxing feeling that accompanies breathing slower and deeper are precisely the reasons why this method is so effective.

5. Watch an entertaining TV series

Watching TV can help you get out of your head

Hands down, this will be the easiest method to incorporate into your life. Watching a captivating TV show will without a doubt distract you from your thoughts in an entertaining manner. Depending on the show you choose, this can potentially be a fun and exciting way to completely separate yourself from your thoughts.

If you’re completely struggling to figure out how to get out of your head, you might need some temporary relief with a distraction.

Watching an entertaining TV series will not only distract you from any negative lingering thoughts, but it can potentially remove any negative thoughts. This is for one reason and one reason only, watching TV makes us feel good!

Why do you think watching TV is such a commonly done and looked forward to activity? The act of watching TV allows us to completely forget about our lives and the daily stresses that accompany it and instead, we get to experience another fictional or non-fictional story.

Watching TV is a great way to relax and unwind, especially if you’re experiencing a wide array of intrusive thoughts that you can’t seem to rid yourself of.

6. Don’t fight your thoughts

What do I mean by this? When you fight your thoughts this typically means feeling irritated or concerned about the thoughts that occur in your mind. It’s important to note that none of us can control our thoughts and while all of us will experience thoughts of a very unkind nature from time to time, this is completely natural and must be accepted as part of a normal life.

Not acting on negative thoughts is all that counts and you shouldn’t fight or try to erase any thoughts you may deem as unnatural as this will usually cause the thoughts your fighting to fight back harder.

If you come across unpleasant or intrusive thoughts daily, accept them. Easier said than done I know, but acceptance is the only way you will be able to peacefully move on and as soon as this is done, you will no longer feel burdened by these issues.

7. Regularly write down your troubling thoughts

Write your thoughts down to get out of your head

This may sound a little contradictory considering this article aims to help you get out of your head, not dive into it headfirst but hear me out. This method might cause you to focus on any thoughts that have become an issue to you, but once you write them down on the paper, you will notice an instant release.

This growth mindset strategy is especially effective for those who typically don’t channel any trapped feelings into anything. Writing can be very therapeutic, especially for those who struggle with a wide array of inner thoughts daily.

You can start this method by writing down your most frequent and troubling thoughts. You will notice as you start writing and thinking more deeply the pen will begin to move on its own as more and more inner issues come to the surface. This can be a mindfulness journal you keep to clear your head.

This is more of a long term solution than a short term one as it won’t necessarily help straight away, but after the consistent practice of this technique, you will notice a weight lifting off your chest from consistently channeling your inner thoughts onto paper. This constant emotional expression onto paper will prevent thoughts and feeling from being trapped in your head furthermore helping you get out of your head.

8. Live in the present moment

As we mentioned earlier, meditation helps clear you head but it also helps you live in the present moment and be more mindful. But meditation isn’t the only way to ground your attention when your mind wanders. There’s many ways to live mindfully including doing things that entering a flow state such as playing musical instruments, listening to music, doing something creative, or playing a sport.

The mind likes to plan for the future or dwell on the past. An activity that stops your wandering mind is helpful here, but also just placing reminders around you to practice living in the present moment. This can be a bracelet you wear, a sticky note on your computer, or a reminder on your phone. Give yourself these reminders to catch yourself and your mind wandering so you can get out of your head and back to being more mindful.

9. Notice negative thinking patterns

Man looking into shard of mirror

When you’re in your head, what are you thinking about? Is there negative self talk? Are there negative thoughts that only worsen your mental health? Are they anxious thoughts that don’t serve you? Is your state of mind generally an unhappy mind?

Take a step back and watch yourself think. Like we mentioned earlier, you don’t want to fight your thoughts. You can actually detach yourself from your thoughts and watch them like you’d watch any sensation in your body. Notice where the mind gravitates to. See if you can challenge your thoughts, and when you do, what are the excuses and objections your mind creates? When you begin to detach yourself from your thoughts, they hold less power over you and thus, you’re able to get out of your head and the thinking traps it creates.

The bottom line

After a read through this article, we now know that being in your head may be a good thing but can also be a bad thing. We also know that meditation and controlling your breathing may help you take better control over the issue at hand.

We have also learnt that focusing on your surroundings may potentially work as a very effective short term solution. Channeling our inner thoughts into a productive workout may also help keep you out of your head, or if this doesn’t appeal, watching your favorite TV show may also help.

Lastly, we have learnt that fighting out inner thoughts and feelings may only make things worse and we should instead opt to accept our thoughts and write them down regularly to further help avoid them building up.

The above list is a greatly effective way to further help you stay out of your head but don’t feel limited to these options, there are numerous other options to choose from. You must find what works for you and optimize this regularly.

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