Question #850: What do you do when you want to get out of your own head?
My head space is so cluttered. And I am the first to admit, most of the things that take up space in my head probably aren’t necessary. If expert organizer Marie Kondo could take a peek inside of it, she would probably gracefully shake her head, and politely ask, “What of this sparks joy for you?”
It’s not that I’m obsessing about things I shouldn’t, or that I’m depressed or anxious. It’s not that I’m neurotic. Of the many things I’ve been called, I’ve never been called neurotic.
But I do have a lot of trains of thought going on all speeds all the time, running checklists, tracking deadlines, and thinking about both on-the-ground tactics alongside broader, overarching strategy related to my life: family, marriage, work, career, education, fitness, friendships, home management, finances, travel plans, and occasionally hobbies that actually do bring me joy.
Martin often jokes about my “spaghetti brain” … where my thoughts are like individual noodles that intertwine, rest, and wrap around each other simultaneously in a way that makes no sense, but somehow, when all put together, it all makes up a perfectly beautiful, perfectly delicious dish.
Okay, so I added that last part.
The truth is, he usually refers to my “spaghetti brain” when exasperated with me.
“I’m not on that noodle in your spaghetti brain,” he says. “I’m not following you at all.”
Yeah. So, if Mrs. Kondo did take a peek into my headspace, she would probably mention that it looks like a mess in there, and validate that it can all be very overwhelming.
So, how do I get out of it? How do I push pause and not think for a minute?
The immediate solution is, for better or worse, to hit social media. That time suck is the fastest, most accessible way for me to disengage with my thoughts, and get distracted by the postings made by friends, family, and acquaintances. The whole mix is there: cat videos, baby photos, family updates, political rants. I laugh at inappropriate memes, and get sucked into clickbait drama.
During the workday, I visit my car. I sit there in the drivers seat, reclined, and I enjoy the silence. And I don’t think anything.
Okay, so I may play some music sometimes. I may open up my mail and read it line-by-line, even the financial statements. I seem to enjoy my time in the car when it’s raining.
Of course, spending positive quality time with my children is the best way to get out of my head. Focusing on them, really looking at them and listening to them, sharing with them my attention and time, and placing myself into their world and their joys and concerns, is perhaps the most fulfilling way I get out of my head. It recharges me. It provides the perspective I need to balance all the things I juggle.
And one final thought: running is not an escape from my head, although I know it works for some people. Running is the time when I actually dive deep into this skull and sort out the bowl of spaghetti, deciding on what sparks joy, and what I need to dismiss or let go.
I think for that, Marie Kondo would be proud.