• Due to COVID-19, many of us are self-isolating and social distancing, which is causing us to feel trapped inside of our own minds.
  • Fortunately, we can reclaim control and free our racing minds by practicing mindfulness and returning to the basics during self-isolation.
  • Mindfulness is about focusing on the present moment; engaging in this practice allows us to take a step back and better understand our thoughts/feelings.
  • In addition to mindfulness, you can free your mind by engaging in some basic practices, including jotting down your thoughts or doodling.
  • Also, have a go-to enjoyable activity that you can turn to when you’re feeling anxious; for example, exercising, baking, or playing with your dog.
  • Next, make sure your basic needs are fulfilled. Finally, talk to a loved one you trust about how you feel. Sometimes, simply getting those thoughts and feelings out into the open can offer comfort.

Due to the rapid spread of COVID-19, many of us are on lockdown. We’re self-isolating, which means we’re staying home and avoiding all unnecessary contact with others. Some of us are fortunate enough to have roommates, be it a friend, family member, or significant other, with whom we can spend our time with. But others aren’t so lucky. And to be honest, whether we have roommates or not, many of us are starting to feel trapped—physically and mentally—due to this self-isolation and social distancing.

We’re all doing our best to follow social distancing guidelines whilst also processing the current state of our world, adjusting to this new normal (at least, for now), and keeping ourselves sane. Sometimes, it becomes a bit much. You might find yourself feeling overwhelmed and mentally exhausted, as your mind races to comprehend all of this new information. Fortunately, we can slow these racing thoughts down and learn to control them again.

How? Don’t worry, we’ll walk you through it. First, we’ll teach you about a helpful practice called mindfulness and then offer a few additional tips for freeing your mind during self-isolation.

Use Mindfulness to Better Understand Your Thoughts

We often forget just how powerful one’s mind and thoughts are. This then means that we fail to recognize the value of mindfulness. “Mindfulness is about bringing focused attention to the present moment without judgment,” Kimberly Dwyer, licensed clinical psychologist, explains. “When we apply this attention to our thoughts, we are able to step back and observe the nature of thought.” She goes on to say that mindfulness is “a great way to step back and slow down the monkey mind chatter.”

Here are a few tips that will help you get started with the practice of mindfulness and in turn free yourself from those anxiety-ridden thoughts:

  • Be curious about your thoughts. In other words, bring attention to your thoughts without acknowledging them as true. “Thought is behavior of mind and does not necessarily reflect reality,” says Dwyer. “When we can see anxious or racing thoughts as the habit of a busy and/or worried mind, we can bring curiosity to those thoughts and observe them moving through our head, rather than feel like we are dragged along and have to attend to and experience the outcomes of those thought trails.”
  • Defuse your thoughts. Now, try labeling your thoughts, based on the feeling they are rooted in. Dwyer explains this as, “quite literally ungluing yourself from your thoughts. This can be as simple as labeling thoughts. For instance: ‘I’m having an anxious thought,’ or ‘There goes my anxious thought track again.’”
  • Change your response. Finally, challenge and change your normal response to an overload of negative thoughts. “Recognizing that it is our brain trying to keep us safe and problem-solving can help,” says Dwyer. “The response can then be, ‘Thank you brain for trying to keep me safe, but right now I’m okay.’”

Back to the Basics: 4 Additional Tips for Freeing Your Mind

Did you give mindfulness a shot? Hopefully, you did, and hopefully, it helped you slow down your racing thoughts. Now, here are a few additional tips that will help you free your mind:

1) Do a quick scribble.

Journaling isn’t for everybody. If you’re looking for a journaling alternative, try simply jotting down some thoughts or doodles. According to Credentialed Art Therapist and Counselor Jodi Rose, this is an effective and quick practice for escaping your anxious thoughts. “I suggest doing a quick ‘scribble’ of the emotions or energy associated with the thoughts… this art-making will slow heart and breath rate and also reduce the production of the stress hormone cortisol,” she explains.

2) Turn to your favorite activity. 

There’s never been a better time to turn your focus to your favorite hobbies and activities. “Have an activity to distract yourself ready to go,” says Licensed Clinical Social Worker Julie Fanning. “When someone starts feeling overwhelmed they can plan on walking their dog or baking a favorite dish.”

3) Ask yourself, “Am I hangry or tired?”

Talk about a simple fix. You should take a minute to consider other factors that might be affecting your feelings. For example, being hungry or tired can make you irritable and exacerbate a range of problems. And odds are you aren’t paying as close attention to these essential needs right now. “Get something to eat and wait for 20 minutes to see if you feel better,” Licensed Professional Counselor Helen Godfrey suggests.

4) Phone a friend. 

Finally, to round out these basic tips for freeing your mind, talk to a loved one. Pick up your phone and call a trusted loved one; talk to them about your feelings. “Whether that individual is a friend, business partner, advisor, or your significant other, they may help you to gain a new perspective,” says Alexis Davis, founder and CEO of H.K. Productions Inc. “This power talk will help you slow down and think more rationally.”

It’s normal and okay to feel anxious, overwhelmed, fearful, or even frustrated right now. But, don’t stop there. Tune into your thoughts and your feelings, using mindfulness. Then, use a few basic techniques to free yourself from your racing thoughts and come back down to earth again.