Well, it’s Halloween here at the gym. Which we only remembered about 3 hours into the day, when a client showed up in an orange and black ensemble, complete with witch’s hat. Happy Halloween! Clearly, we immediately started discussing the necessity of gorging ourselves on candy corn.
I say ‘we’ but actually I just kept pulling faces, because candy corn is like a mockery of all things delicious. It’s the thing you find yourself half heartedly eating because there’s nothing else there and it’s kind of sweet and that’s good, but JUST TASTES like you’re eating the color orange. I prefer chocolate.
These past few days I have been struggling a little bit with obsessive thoughts. While being focused is a good thing, it’s important to remain well-rounded, because obsession leads to rumination leads to stress, and that’s never a good idea. It’s a lesson that could be pivotal to losing weight, eliminating stress, and achieving goals you’ve set for yourself in the long run. Humans are pretty good at obsessing, or at least I know I am. And when I find something worth obsessing about like my weight, a mistake I made, or some future event, I can ‘be outside myself’ for hours, even days before I realize that I’ve been out of the present moment for ages and should probably get back before I hit someone (Usually I realize this while driving. I’m kidding. Sort of.).
This kind of obsessing not only keeps us from fully enjoying life as it comes to us, which is the only true way to enjoy life, but in hyper focusing we make unnecessary changes or take detrimental risks simply because we convince ourselves that something HAS to be done – change isn’t happening fast enough, our current plan isn’t working, ABANDON SHIP. Put simply, when everything is going along swimmingly, we get lost in our heads and we try to “help” – aaaaand we ruin everything.
If you find yourself obsessing over one thing or a multitude of different anxieties, here are some ideas to get out of your head and, ideally, back into life:
1. Apply yourself to something COMPLETELY
For me, this is usually reading. I’m always reading one or two or five books at a time, and when I need to escape, diving back into a chapter about Duke Phelan’s mercenary groups (embarrassing) is the perfect way to engage my imagination and pull me away from my ruminating. The same could be said for watching a good movie, knitting, cooking, even sleeping. Occupy your mind with something peaceful and quiet the angry thoughts.
This is a big one and you’ll never stop hearing peace and well-being gurus toting the benefits of meditation. But it’s not just them – it’s doctors, scientists and exercise professionals, too. Meditation is a way of taking back over your mind. So few of us realize when we have completely lost control over our thoughts, when instead of lifting us up and motivating us, our thoughts break us down, stop us up with worry and make us feel terrible about ourselves. The only thing in this world we really DO have complete control over is within our own minds, so now is NOT the time to be giving up that control, but to be FIGHTING for it. You don’t have to launch into intense meditation 7 days a week and start draping yourself in a bed sheet. Just 5 minutes a day, three times a week, right when you wake up or especially right before you go to bed – subliminal messaging, anyone? – is a great place to begin and can make all the difference in the world. I might suggest looking into guided meditation audios if you’re a beginner – they’ve helped me. Walking meditation is also great if you’re not good at sitting still, or need to meditate on the go. Which seems hilariously incongruous but hey, ya gotta do what ya gotta do.
Okay, I know I work at a gym so I may be slightly biased. But I MEAN it. Exercise is proven to be one of the best ways to release stress, both in the short and long term. And there’s nothing better for getting out of your head than a killer workout, where all you can think is GO, GO, GO until you’re lying prostrate on the floor with Larry Arnold standing over you and telling you to get up and get back to work. When you feel the tension building up in you and the last thing you want to do is lift a barbell, get your butt to the gym, go outside, even just walk around the block – it will get the endorphins flowing and hopefully loosen the constricting bands around your brain.
These are just my thoughts, on this All Hallow’s Eve. I hope everyone has a great one, filled with laughter and candy and screams and all that other American dream stuff. I’ll see you in the gym the day after to make sure you remember what suffering is.
Be free. Be thoughtful. Be fit.