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Go for a walk: Let all the thoughts swirl around and get outside of your head

Sep 21, 2019

swirling thoughtsSome mornings, I wake up with a lot of thoughts already swirling around in my head. It’s like I put them to the side when I went to bed, and the second I open my eyes (or before) they leap upon me again and fill my head before I even have time to grab coffee. 

When this happens, the worst thing I can do is get up and start working straight away. 

Because if I do that, the thoughts haven’t been allowed to go anywhere. They’re stuck, and they get more stuck or stuffed to the side while I try to focus on what I have to do that day. 

It’s sort of like bees. You know how there are people who don’t mind bees, and people who do? So when there’s a bee buzzing around, some people sit quietly and say “it’s okay – just let the bee do its thing, and it will go away”. Others jump up and scream and run around and bat at the air to get rid of the bee. 

(I don’t mind bees as much anymore, but I admit I’m the jump-up-and-run-away person if it’s a wasp. They’re mean. But let’s stick with the bees cos they feel a little friendlier, and it fits my nice analogy better.) 

I need to let the thoughts swirl around a little, until they find a window and drift away. 

The best way to do this is to get outside for a walk. 

I’ve always enjoyed walking – I even have my own hashtag #walkswithkaren – and one morning in particular this week when I went out, it was like I could feel all those thoughts swirling around, making noise, buzzing. They were a little confusing, a little helpful, but mostly they were just moving around. 

Some were calm thoughts. Some were confused, some were a little annoyed, some were pleasant. There are things to do and events and travel and people. There are relationship issues and business issues and opportunities and wonderings. 

And I walked. 

I had conversations in my head with a variety of people. I talked to God and thought about His characteristics. I imagined what this person would say or thought about what that other person did say and wondered where they were at. I remembered things from my holiday and thought about rest and work. 

And I kept walking.

And just as I returned on the path up to my house, I realised most of these thoughts had swirled enough and were beginning to settle. That my head was clearing and I was looking forward to the work I had to do that day. 

I need to walk in the morning, before I start anything – not because I need to sort things out (although sometimes I do), but simply to get all the thoughts going. To let them swirl around and do what they do so they don’t hold me back for the rest of the day. 

This isn’t the only way to deal with all the thoughts that swirl around. You still have to deal with things and have conversations and make calls and hold meetings and make decisions.

But let it swirl around a little first. 

Go for a walk. 

Let the thoughts do their thing, and you do yours. Look around at the sun rising and the trees moving and (if you can find some space with all those thoughts) listen to the silence. 

They’ll settle down, and then you can too.