Updated: Jan 2
How does it feel to lose your mind?
Thoughts have taken over you like an army of soldiers invading a kingdom. They declare war against your rationality. All the logical reasoning and aptitude tests that you have taken in your life have turned out to be useless.
You feel powerless! And thinks, can you lose your mind from anxiety?
It’s an overwhelming feeling of not being able to trust yourself or having a feeling of "I am losing myself".
It feels like you have surrendered to this hostile takeover. Your thoughts have gone out of control, losing control on anxiety and present to you all extreme cases. It feels like all the horrible things that you have ever seen, heard and read are going to happen to you.
A minor fever tricks you into thinking that you have a terrible illness
Getting a call from a family member is terrifying as your mind makes you believe that something is wrong
You’re unable to stop imagining the scenario of your partner abandoning you as they didn't pick up your call
You need to catch a flight tomorrow morning, but you can’t stop replaying all the information about plane crashes
At one point it feels like even death is better than living in this hell! - That’s when you know that you have lost your mind.
The good news is that you can train yourself to not get swayed by spiralling thoughts. As quoted by the father of American psychology, William James, “The greatest weapon against our stress is our ability to choose one thought over the other”.
Like anything, everyone can strengthen this ability through practice.
Here are some ways to move past this phase
Step outside for a run
When you recognise that the thoughts of "losing yourself mentally or losing myself to depression" are sprawling over you, step out for a run or lift weights at the gym. Exercising releases endorphins and serotonin help in lifting the mood and increasing energy levels . It also gives a sense of control, which is much needed when dealing with monstrous anxious thoughts.
WebMD states that people with depression report low levels of Vitamin D. Hence, running in the sun is a good idea to get ample amounts of vitamin D. It is also a great way to socialise with people .
Sit still and breathe
Stay stop to your thoughts!
As stupid as it might sound, intervening and saying a stop helps!
Sit with that uncomfortable feeling and focus on your breathing.
Why does deep breathing help?
Shallow breathing alters the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in your body. Improper oxygenation signals a fight or flight response from your brain. However, deep breathing stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system which controls breathing, heart rate, digestion, etc. Deep breathing can help you avoid the amygdala hijack that triggers the fight or flight response 
Observe the various sensations in your body. Are you breathing easily or feeling constriction? Does your nose feel fine?
There are myriad breathing techniques available. Explore which one works for you the best.
Few breathing techniques to try:
Alternate nostril breathing ( Nadi Sodhana)
Ocean’s Breath (Ujjayi Pranayama)
The Cooling breath ( Sitali Pranayama)
Lion’s breath (Simhasana)
I’m a big fan of alternate nostril breathing. Every time I do it, I observe which nose allows me to easily breathe. It also helps me calm down in a few minutes.
Set your environment for positivity
According to the paper, Housing environment and mental health outcomes: A levels of analysis perspective, our housing environment can impact well-being. So, when you feel demotivated, just pick up the broom and clean the room. It will rejuvenate your mind and bring clarity.
Here are some tips to set your environment:
Switch from yellow lights to white lights
Declutter your space - Give away things that you no longer use!
Add character to your space - Light up candles, create art and mix it up with bright and bold colours
Make your bed right after waking up
Open your windows
Optimise your place for positivity: Motivation posters, reminders and post-it notes
Have indoor plants
Wash up the dishes at night
Understanding possibility and probability
Being an overthinker myself, a LinkedIn post by the founder of Nearby.com, Ankur Warikoo, caught my attention. Since then, it has stuck with me.
It is possible to die in a plane crash, but what is the probability?
Training your mind to think in terms of probabilities than possibilities helps to channelise your overthinking.
After all our crazy thoughts are possible but are they probable?
Listen to chants or hymns
To get out of that dark zone immediately, play chants or follow a guided meditation. Have an emotional first-aid playlist of your favourite YouTube videos - Yoga, meditation, and chants.
How does it help?
Repetition of the hymns replaces the negative loop and it becomes the default inner voice in no time. According to Scientific Analysis of Mantra-Based Meditation and Its Beneficial Effects: An Overview, chanting helps in synchronising the left and right sides of the brain, thus promoting alpha brain waves, which are relaxing in nature.
Throughout the day our mind fluctuates between delta, theta, alpha, beta and gamma brain waves, which puts us in a relaxed or alert state. Gamma waves are seen when different parts of the brain function in harmony such as during moments of insight. For most of us, the gamma wave burst lasts for fraction of a second. However, for Buddhist monks, it was found to last for a minute. In 2002, Wisconsin researchers found that people with high gamma waves activities were more compassionate, had good cognitive functioning, improved focus and were happier. It was found that by meditating anyone can improve their gamma wave activity.
Also Read: Expressive Art Therapies in Mental Health
Hence by practising meditation, we can keep the anxious and ballooning thoughts in check and also feel more happy and productive.
Seek professional help
If your thoughts become unmanageable and if you feel suicidal, reach out to helplines or a trained psychologist as soon as possible. A trained professional will help you understand unhealthy thought patterns and train you to form alternative perspectives, which will help you come out of the dark phase forever.
ManoShala offers affordable and accessible mental health solutions to everyone dealing with anxiety, depression, grief, ADHD, and relationship issues through one-on-one counselling as well as group wellness workshop that uses art as a medium of communication. With music, body movement, art and drama, ManoShala offers support to individuals dealing with various mental issues.
Book a free 15-minutes pre-screening call with us to discuss your requirements.
Living with terrible anxiety can make life difficult. Fortunately, we are the captain of our ship and with practice, we can learn to manage these overwhelming thoughts. Mental health research has grown by leaps and bounds to provide various tools and techniques to treat a wide range of mental illnesses. By taking baby steps every day, it is possible to regain our control and power over our minds.
Written by Padmapriyadarshini