- Life can become all too overwhelming, especially when we let all of our responsibilities pile up and let the mess crowd our minds.
- We can, however, reclaim control and free our racing minds from the chaos by practicing a little something called mindfulness.
- Mindfulness is all about focusing your attention 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 completing a quick journal entry, engaging in a favorite hobby, talking to a friend, and even checking to make sure exhaustion and hanger aren’t playing a role.
Sometimes, life becomes a bit much. Everything piles up. Work, school, bills, and every other little making of our day to day. And more often than not, we let this mess completely clutter our minds. Before we know it, we’re sent into overdrive: our thoughts are racing and we’re struggling to keep up.
Fortunately, we can slow these racing thoughts down. We can reassume power over our minds. And we can begin to live healthier. This probably leaves you begging the question, “How?” Don’t worry, we’re going to make it really easy for you. First, we’ll teach you about a little something called mindfulness and then offer a few additional tips for escaping your overcrowded headspace.
Embrace the Power of Your Mind
Let’s get straight to the root of the problem: your mind. We often forget just how powerful our mind and our thoughts really are. Which means we rarely recognize the value that is 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.” So, what are you waiting for? The following will help you to master the practice of mindfulness and in turn free yourself from those anxiety-ridden thoughts:
- Be curious about your thoughts. “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.”
- Practice “thought defusion.” Also, work on defusing your thoughts, or in Dwyer’s words, “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 solve can help,” says Dwyer. “The response can then be, ‘Thank you brain for trying to keep me safe, but right now I’m okay.’”
Get Back to the Basics: 4 Tips
Did you give mindfulness a shot? Hopefully you did, and hopefully it helped you slow down those out of control thoughts. Either way, here are a few additional (more basic) tips for freeing your mind:
1) Do a quick scribble. Jotting down some thoughts and some doodles can help to free your mind, according to Credentialed Art Therapist and Counselor Jodi Rose. “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 says.
2) Turn to your favorite activity. “It’s also a good idea to 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, baking a favorite dish, or even cleaning the bathroom.”
3) Ask yourself, “Am I hangry or tired?” 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. “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, talk to a loved one. “Contact an individual whom you can trust that is supportive and honest. 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.”