We are living in stressful times.
Clients and I cannot get through a workout session without talking about the crazy that is going on in our world. Topics like mass murders occurring at the hands of crazed gunman, racial and gender inequality and terrorist attacks seem to be daily headlines. There’s also the hashtags around the #metoo campaign that finally forces us to talk about sexual assault against women.
These events and topics can cause trauma to our minds or reopen deep wounds for many of us. By the way #metoo. This causes an amazing amount of stress. Our minds race and do not quiet. We lose sleep and live in a constant state of anxiety without even realizing it.
It is times like these that we need to practice self-care. It’s not optional. We need to go inward and organize our own thoughts to be able to deal with the madness of the world outside.
Do you ever have those moments when you find yourself silently begging your mind to be quiet? Do you wish there were a temporary ‘off switch’ so that you could get a few moments peace from the constant barrage of the negative news? Observing the ugly going on around us is already difficult in addition to our own everyday chatter that goes on in our head.
The simple fact is that despite us wishing it would be silent; the mind often has a ‘mind of its own’.
I have different techniques I use to help quiet my mind. Maybe not silence it completely, but make the volume of the thoughts less noticeable. The goal is to be less distracted, more focused, and better able to relax.
Here are my top 5 tips for calming your mind and centering your thoughts.
1 Meditation– Meditation is a fantastic tool for calming and unwinding both your body and mind. One of the problems that people often face is an anxiety that they are not meditating properly, which doesn’t help calm the mind at all. My advice? Relax into it!
There is no right or wrong way when it comes to closing the eyes and preparing to meditate. If you are new to meditation, or if you have struggled with meditating in the past, try following a guided relaxation or mindfulness meditation.
You can find these for free online and there are thousands to choose from. If you find that the first few aren’t right for you don’t give up! Meditations come in all different styles and types, and it is important to find one that is guided by a voice that relaxes you.
2 Breathing practices– Breathing plays a surprisingly big role in how we feel on an emotional and mental level. By calming the flow of your breath and implementing slow, relaxed nostril breathing you can calm your feelings and thoughts.
Next time you need to calm your mind turn to your breath. To redirect the pattern of your thoughts you can mentally follow each breath by silently repeating ‘breathing in - breathing out’ with each inhalation and each exhalation.
3 Walking or Running solo– Sometimes the chattering of the mind is happening because there are things that you really need to think through before you can let them go. When this is the case for me, I like to go out for a run on my own and let the thinking process takes its course.
For others walking helps. Befriend your thoughts and let them play through your mind and you may find that they think themselves through.
4 Write it down– Keeping a journal is a great way to focus your thoughts and calm your mind. You may wish to write poetry, jot down thoughts and ideas, recall what has happened in your day, or simply doodle or sketch.
The act of recording your thoughts and ideas is a great way of focusing your mind and working through specific problems. The other advantage is that you get to keep a record of this part of yourself to look back over in the future.
5 Connect with nature– There is something incredibly calming about nature. Getting out and about in the fresh air always helps calm my mind and relax that chattering of my thoughts.
When I get a chance I walk along the beach smelling the salty air, listening to the waves breaking on the shore and the feeling of sand between my toes. I also like to go to parks and take my shoes off and walk in the grass. Try getting out and connecting with nature, even if it is just admiring a beautiful sunset or watching storm clouds building up on the horizon, nature has an amazing way of calming the mind.
Pay attention to your stress and anxiety levels. Your body has an amazing feedback system. Stress is there to let you know that things are out of balance.
That’s your cue to take a mental break. Even a few minutes can make a difference so don’t let a packed schedule keep you from finding a bit of calm in a busy day.