If I had a dollar for every minute I’ve spent worrying, I’d probably be a millionaire. I’ve been a worrier for as long as I can remember. When I was 7 years old I would start crying before bed halfway through summer vacation because I was so worried about having to go back to school. Fear of the future is something that’s always weighed heavily on me, even as a small child. This fear is something that I still struggle with to this day. So as you can imagine, I’ve spent a lot of time worrying during my 25 years on this planet. And although my tendency to overthink doesn’t necessarily keep me from living a fulfilling life, it does keep me from enjoying the full potential I have for fun in my life. During the Summer of last year I noticed myself stagnating. I was in such a rush to figure out my next move that it completely took over my mind. I had such a hard time enjoying the present moment and was constantly consumed by the anxiety I felt about what the future held for me. In the end the stagnation was taken care of through me deciding to move cities. Of course, obsessing over what my next move was going to be didn’t actually help me figure out my next move. My decision came naturally to me and didn’t actually involve much thought in the end. But it did put a huge damper on the last couple months I spent in the last city I was living in. Fast forward to this Summer. Me and my partner decided to do our first big road trip together. We rented a van for two weeks and took it all the way to the Yukon Territories in Canada. This trip came in the middle of what was a pretty intense time of rabbit-holing for me. And not without reason. After not working for 6 months I was starting to fall into a slump. I didn’t know what I was doing with my life and my confidence in myself was taking a bit of a hit. I felt nervous about going on the trip, but as soon as we got on the road my worries quelled and I was absolutely loving the opportunity to connect with my hunny every day and explore such a beautiful place. That is until the trip was about half way over, and I got lost in overthinking once again. I dreaded going back home, and couldn’t stop thinking about what I was going to do when I got back. I was worried that I would be bored and sad, which I of course had the option to not be if I chose to. But I instead chose to live outside of the present moment, which meant not enjoying myself on my trip, and setting myself up for a dismal arrival back home. I was completely out of the moment, and looking back now, I wish that I could go back in time and re-spend that time. Once again, my worries did nothing to help my future outcome, but it did ruin my experience in the present moment. After coming home I watched a Ted Talk that spoke about mental strength. In it it talked about how in the same way that we can exercise to create physical strength, we can exercise our minds to become stronger as well. The way that we do this, is by not going down the rabbit hole when we have a bad thought. Instead of becoming fixed on this negative thought, and allowing it to completely derail us, we make the choice to focus our attention on something more positive. Whatever thought patterns we most often choose to indulge in become the path of least resistance. As much as we think that we don’t enjoy being sad and dwelling in negativity, there is something comforting about doing so. It feels easy. But easy is not always better. It takes work, but it is possible to rewire these neural connections in our brains, and the work is well worth it. As much as we may sometimes feel powerless to our thoughts, we always have a choice in what we allow ourselves to dwell on. And I’m going to leave you with some tools to help aid you in making healthier mental choices. Focus On Your Breathe: When you are paying attention to your breath you can’t help but become grounded in the present moment. When our minds become overwhelmed with thought, breathing is such a simple way to pull our attention back to the present. Focus your attention on your exhales, imagine your stress and overwhelm leaving your body every time you breathe out. By breathing deeply we are able to release so much stress and draw our bodies back into homeostasis. Create A Gratitude Practice: It is scientifically proven that the feeling of gratitude creates new neural pathways in the brain. A simple gratitude practice can do wonders to tweak your perspective to be a little more on the positive side. My favourite way to invite more gratitude into my life is to start my day by writing a list of all the things I am grateful for that day. It may be hard to think of things at first, but as you continue this practice, you will find that it becomes easier and easier to fill the page. Meditate: Meditation is undoubtedly the most quintessential practice in my mindfulness repertoire. So often we feel completely controlled by our thoughts, and we aren’t able to separate ourselves from the chatter running through our minds because we feel so engulfed by it. Through the practice of meditation we are able to take space from our thoughts, and as we continue to practice, the space we are able to enjoy between our thoughts becomes longer and longer. When our minds are free of thought, we can finally feel at ease. When you first begin meditating I recommend working with guided meditations, there are so many amazing resources on Youtube for you to work with. Be Kind To Your Mind: If you know there are certain things that trigger a rabbit hole for you, like creeping your ex on social media, or staring in the mirror and obsessing over the things you dislike about your appearance, then be kind to yourself. The pain body so loves to express itself, and when we are feeling sad it can be appealing to indulge in self-destructive patterns that we know aren’t good for ourselves. Instead show yourself some love. Watch something inspiring on Youtube, call someone you love, or treat yourself to a bubble bath instead. Just Read A Book: And the last tip I have is something so simple. For a long time when I felt sad or triggered I would just throw on Netflix and try to forget about whatever I was feeling. But TV is only so stimulating, and I found that I was still in a space of overthinking and would often spend my time scrolling on social media. An amazing alternative to this is to just simply read a book. You have to be present reading a book, or you literally can’t read. It forces you to be in the moment and thoroughly distracts you from whatever thoughts have been plaguing your mind. I personally love getting lost in a great fiction novel, but as long as you’re reading and taking space from your thoughts, it’s a win.