Why do we become lost in thought?

We can find ourselves lost in thought at any point during the day. You may be at work, sat in a lecture, on a train or lying in bed waiting to go to sleep. In fact, 50% of your day can be spent lost in thought, wandering through random and disjointed fragments of your mind.

This can happen because everyday things easily distract us and divert our minds from a task or train of thought. It only takes a smartphone, an advertising board or some sort of commotion around us to trigger a wandering mind. This could be labelled as daydreaming, but being lost in thought can be much more harmful to us, by being the root of anxiety and worry.

How do you know when your mind is wandering?

A focused mind concentrates solely on a given task. Reading a book, driving a car or playing a musical instrument requires focused thought. We won’t perform these tasks well, or indeed at all if our minds are distracted. These tasks require discipline and focus that can keep wandering thoughts at bay and can, in some circumstances, be a remedy to us being lost in thought (more on this later).

A wandering mind haphazardly shoots between different stirs in our heads. Shifting thought aimlessly between memories, future events, concerns or annoyances is an indication that your mind is wandering.

Daydreaming is an innocent form of being lost in thought. It is usually harmless and won’t be of much detriment to you and your well-being. However, it can be deeply damaging to us if we erratically dash across fragments of our thought for long periods of time.

Unfortunately, most of our thoughts tend to be discouraging and have a negative impact on us. This leads to anxiety and worry. Increased heart rate, sweat, an inability to concentrate and a feeling of unease are all signs an anxious and worried mind, indicating that you have been or are probably lost in thought.

The dangers of being lost in thought

Anxiety and worry are the two main consequences of shifting aimlessly through thoughts in our minds. We become detached from the present and become lost in our heads. This can cause us to feel helpless and distressed as we flounder in the proximities of our own minds.

We aggressively fixate on concerns we have and things that have been bothering us. Perhaps you worry about a deadline at work you are behind on, feel anxious about the way you acted at a party a few nights ago, or are troubled by an argument with a friend that you have had. Thinking about several dilemmas at once, and not focusing on a given task in hand, can cause unnecessary sorrow.

The quality of our lives will be seriously impaired if we don’t learn how to combat or avert being lost in thought. Excessive anxiety and worry will dangerously affect how we act and think in the present.

They can cause us to obsess over hypothetical scenarios that may or may not play out, possibly preventing us from leaving the house or attending a social event.

Our view and perception of the world can be totally altered for the worst by nags that are tragically and needlessly plaguing our heads. Therefore, we need to find ways to prevent such thoughts manifesting, in order to garner a healthy state of being.

How to prevent getting lost in thought and find your way out of a wandering mind

It is crucial to know how to resolve the issue of being lost in thought. This will prohibit our lives from being irrevocably negatively impacted. Here are 5 tips on how to deal with getting lost in thought:

Focus your mind on something that is of worth to you

Getting back to the present is key. Focusing on something that is important or valuable to you will help to engage your mind on things that primarily matter to you.

This could be working on a project for work, learning a new piece of music on a musical instrument or even trivial things like chores around the house. Keeping your mind occupied can help quell anxious thoughts and stunt the process of overthinking.

Talk to someone about your thoughts

Leaving your thoughts alone could mean they just merge into one large state of anxiety. Separating your thoughts, dealing and questioning them individually is a more constructive way of handling anxiety when you become lost in thought.

Talking to someone will help with this. Verbally explaining the worries you have can flesh out the issues that need resolving within you. Find a friend to talk to so you can worry a little less.

Remember that your thoughts are only thoughts

Seek comfort in the fact that most of your thoughts are probably just thoughts. The chances are that they will never materialise in reality and are just silly and irrelevant figments of your psyche. Some thoughts like these can be recognised after careful consideration. Have the courage to identify them and expel them from your mind.

Confront your anxieties and worries and try to deal with them, or else they will only manifest more

Your worries and anxieties can fester and manifest more in your mind if you don’t challenge them when lost in thought. Stop overthinking and start confronting. If you do this you can prevent yourself from being consumed by negative thoughts.

Learn mindfulness

Mindfulness is a practice that steadies the mind and brings it back to the present. There are many techniques for mindfulness, but just calmly observing your thoughts can suppress the negative element of them. Bring them into the context of the present to expose their relevance to your present self. Then assess whether they are worth your time worrying about.

You are the master of your thoughts

We all feel overwhelmed by our thoughts and it is normal to struggle as we try to understand and deal with them. We will all feel anxious and worried many times during our lives.

However, know that you are the master of your thoughts. It is easy to become lost in your mind, but ultimately you do have the power to dictate what thoughts are worth your while. There is a chance you can find peace of mind if you remember this.

References:

  1. https://www.psychologytoday.com/
  2. https://www.forbes.com/

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