As any reader of this blog knows, I tend to overthink things. Maybe it’s my anxiety, maybe it’s just part of my personality, who knows – either way, decisions aren’t made lightly when it comes to how I live my life. That’s one of the reasons I struggled over the weekend, but also one of the ways that I was taught a valuable lesson in how to spend and enjoy my time. I operate with the mindset that every single moment of my day has to have a vague, undefined sense of meaning and importance, and I’m starting to learn that this doesn’t have to be true. Sometimes, the only reason we do things is to feel good and enjoy ourselves – and that can be a very good thing.
I’m not sure if I’ve written about this before on MBNB, but I like to play video games. There aren’t a ton I play (I stick to the same 3-4 games that come out with new versions every year), but it’s a hobby I’ve spent more time doing since the pandemic hit.
Outside of the pure enjoyment I get out of it, I’ve also realized that it’s a space where, whether by accident or on purpose, my brain is occupied. I have to focus on the game I’m playing, or I won’t succeed in playing it. And while there are many other ways I could occupy my brain, this is one I’ve found that’s been extremely effective – especially when my anxious brain won’t stop spinning.
My default approach to getting through my day is multi-tasking. My brain is occupied with so many thoughts – racing thoughts, negative thoughts, unhelpful thoughts, etc. In order to get things done, I have to either focus on the task at hand and put my whole weight into doing something, or I have to accept the fact that I’m doing my best at getting something done while I’m thinking two things at once. It can get to be too much at times, but I’ve been able to find success where I can.
But when I play video games, everything is in front of me. I don’t have time or space to think or reflect – I’m too busy trying to win at the game. And in doing that, the real win isn’t whatever game I’m playing, but that in the moment, I’m as relaxed as I possibly can be. It’s almost like I hit pause on the negative thoughts and didn’t give them anywhere to go, so they leave for the time being. I’ve experienced that feeling before, but I’ve never been able to find it so consistency in my hobbies and activities.
Now this isn’t 100 percent fool-proof, but it happens enough to show me that sometimes the point of doing something is to relax. And that’s something I’m still trying to make sense of. We need that time where our brain doesn’t have to work so hard, where we can reset and recharge for what’s ahead. I know I’ll find additional ways to do this in the future but for now, I’m glad I found a way that works for me. It might be simple, but it is definitely effective – and that’s the most important part of adding something to your mental health toolkit.
Now I want to hear from you! Do you have any hobbies or activities that help your brain relax or ‘turn off’? Let me know in the comments!