Throughout my entire teen years, I was foreign to the concept of 'overthinking'. It's not something I did, nor was it something that impacted my day to day life.
Then I entered my twenties, and bam.
It was like this overwhelming rush of emotions, life decisions, responsibilities, body changes, and insecurities that overtook.
I suddenly developed characteristics and behaviour patterns that I hadn't known before. Like zero-ing in on small details, ruminating over things, being over-sensitive to criticism and allowing negativity to seep into my mind.
Over the past year, I've tried a bunch of stuff to get me back to the happier state of mind I once remember being in and, amidst my efforts, I came across 'written lists'.
I have three written lists that I keep with me and refer to whenever I find myself falling into a low mood and beginning to overthink a situation:
List 1: Short Distractions For When I Begin to Overthink
Okay, so my first written list is labelled "Short Distractions". Essentially, it's a list of roughly 10 things that I can turn to when I can sense myself becoming engrossed by a thought.
The rule is that everything on this list must:
- Only take about 5 minutes to do (or 5 minutes of preparation)
- Be easy to get stuck into and complete
If I wrote really complex tasks on my list of short distractions, I'd not be bothered to do them (especially when I'm already feeling low).
For example, I won't write "prepare and cook a meal" ❌ because to me, that feels exausting. Instead I might write "Read a psychology article" ✅ as I know it's something I enjoy and is super easy to get started on.
What would your short distractions be? Here's mine to help you get started:
Zara's Short Distraction List –
🤲🏼 Pray 2 Rak'at
✍🏼 Jot down some ideas for a new blog post (don't pressure yourself to actually write it)
📞 Call Mum or sister for a quick catch-up
🚶🏽♀️ Walk to the local cafe to grab a coffee to go
📚 Read a latest psychology article
📚 Read a page from your Islamic poetry book
🕯 Light a candle and give the desk a clean
✨ Move to another room to try and physically get out of this space
The great thing about having a list of short distractions is that it's such an easy set of tasks that you can turn to just to get your mind away from what may be bothering you. It's nothing too intense and doesn't require you to go too far from your comfort zone!
List 2: Friends I can Turn to For Different things
While a lot of us can be closed books that refrain from telling people about our dilemmas out of the fear of "being a burden, adulthood will teach you that we need to shift this mindset completely.
Good friends are those who stick with you through the good and uplift you through the bad.
If you find yourself in a difficult state mentally, emotionally and even physically, don't be afraid to confide in your friends and seek help. This list can aid you in these scenarios, too.
Write down a list of all your closest friends (and even family members/siblings) and next to each name, write down what their strength is and what topic you'd feel comfortable confiding in them about if you were to be having issues with it.
🤲🏼 Friend A: Has strong knowledge on religion // can help me with my prayers
🏠 Friend B: Knows my family well // can advise me on a dilemma at home
❤️ Friend C: Is fair and compassionate // can tell me if I've made a mistake
As basic as it might seem, more often than not, we end up turning to the wrong people in certain situations which only causes more harm and confusion.
Although all your friends may be easy to talk to, each of them are unique and have their own set of strengths which you can play to. This also lessens the pressure of speaking to just one person about every dilemma you may experience.
List 3: Small Things to Reward Myself With
While we tend to think that 'treats' refer to self-indulgence, this isn't always the case. In fact, many psychological studies have shown the positive impact a reward system can have on anxiety and overthinking.
When we 'treat' ourselves to something, we feel cared for and excited about our progression, whereas if we fail to offer a small reward, it can cause resentment and feelings of burn-out.
When I've dealt with a depleting mood or have fallen into a spiral of over-thinking, I'll refer to list 1 (my short distractions) and then I'll jump to my small rewards list which is filled with easy-to-obtain treats.
This can be things like:
- Purchasing something off my Amazon wish list
- Picking up a new skincare product
- Getting a bubble tea!
- Grabbing a bunch of you
It's anything that lets you feel a little happier about taking that step to help yourself.
What would your reward be? Let us know in the comments below! ❤️
Dealing with overthinking, anxiety and low moods can feel never-ending and sometimes we don't always know who we can turn to in these moments.
But remember that Allah is always with you every step of the way so turn to Him, ask for His guidance and help. For surely, when you take one step towards Allah, He comes running towards us.
May Allah SWT ease your affairs and free you from you from the difficulties that you bear on your own.