Tired of the thousands of thoughts occupying your mind? Learn how to quiet your mind so that you can relieve stress and have more peace and productivity in your life.
Do you ever get lost in your thoughts?
Do you try and focus on something, only to find your mind wandering to the next thing or the last thing?
Does your brain move so fast that you find yourself holding your breath sometimes?
Do you wish you could just quiet some of your thoughts so you can think more clearly?
It’s estimated that we have somewhere between 60,000-80,000 thoughts per day. Sadly, most of them are a repeat of previous thoughts, and the majority are negative.
Your brain can’t run at warp speed 24/7. It needs a break. You need a break!
Studies have shown that high-stress levels and perceived stress levels are associated with poor health. Taking time to quiet your mind can lead to more peace and productivity, not to mention that it can also boost your creativity.
How to Quiet Your Mind
1. Start Your Day on the Right Foot
Are your eyes even open before your phone is in your hand and you’re reacting to people’s requests and demands?
Taking a few moments to be mindful and set the tone for the day can be really helpful first thing in the morning. Getting clear on your objectives can help you stay on track so that you’re accomplishing what you want, instead of only reacting to what others want.
When you’re anxious and stressed out, your heart rate and body temperature can rise. Taking long, slow, deep breaths can help physically relax you and decrease some of the physical sensations in your body.
I’m not going to use the “M” word since I know that can feel a bit daunting to those struggling to quiet the mind, but really, breathing is meditation. Ooops, sorry, I couldn’t help myself.
Meditation, there I go again, is really just quieting the mind and body. In my beginner’s guide to meditation article, I list the Mayo Clinic’s definition of meditation:
“The idea behind meditation is to suspend the stream of thoughts that normally occupy your conscious mind. Doing this leads to a state of physical relaxation, mental calmness, and psychological balance.”
I know you want some of that relaxation and balance, so you can check out my article for ways to meditate that don’t include sitting cross-legged on the floor.
3. Relax Your Muscles
If you feel a lot of physical tension in your body, then doing a body scan can be helpful. Simply draw attention to different parts of your body. If your hands are tense, make a tight fist and then release it a few times until they feel relaxed.
You can do this with all parts of your body, starting from your head and ending at your toes. It can be nice to practice this while lying in bed before you go to sleep. Ideally, by the time you get to your feet, you’ll be asleep or at least very relaxed.
4. Be Present
When you’re in the moment, your mind is right there with you. It’s not reliving your stories from the past or predicting worst-case scenarios in the future. It’s in the present.
A great way to be present is to simply look around you. See what you see, smell any scents, hear the sounds, and just take in it. When you observe what’s in front of you, you’re present to the current moment. A big deep breath also helps ground you to the present and gets you out of your head.
5. Practice Gratitude
Start looking for and noticing all that you have to be grateful for in your life and you’ll start seeing more and more of it around you. Like attracts like so be sure to focus on the good in your life, instead of ruminating on the bad. Focusing on the good will help quiet the negative thoughts and allow you to see more of the positive. Learn how to start a gratitude practice here.
Sometimes you just need a physical release of your stress. Getting in your body can release your brain’s busy work and help with its cognitive abilities.
When you exercise, you can also reap the rewards of a cortisol reduction in your body. Cortisol is your stress hormone, so dropping your levels can drop your stress. Then of course there’s the happy feel good endorphins that get released when you workout and that can improve your mood and even your sleep.
7. Eat Healthy Food
What you put in your body can affect your brain and energy levels. Ever felt wired after eating a sugary dessert, only to feel a crash an hour or two later? Keeping your sugar levels balanced can help keep your brain balanced.
Healthy fat like avocados, nuts, or even MCT oil can give the brain fuel to stay sharp and focused. Bonus is that this healthy fat will also help fill you up so you won’t feel hungry and can resist the temptation for sugary snacks and treats between meals.
8. Put It Down on Paper
Sometimes the simple act of putting a collection of thoughts on paper can help quiet the mind. Your brain may just need a release. When you journal about your feelings, you release them from your head. Not only that, but putting them on paper allows you to look at your thoughts more objectively and potentially develop a better relationship with them.
9. Witness Pure Joy
A great way to quiet the mind and live in the present is to watch kids play or observe how a dog greets its owner. There’s usually pure joy and happiness for what’s in front of them. They’re not angry at something that happened yesterday. They’re enjoying the now. Take a lesson and savor the moment.
10. Identify Your Triggers
If you know that you always spin out when dealing with a certain family member or client, plan accordingly, and try to avoid going directly into the fire. For instance, if you know that you have differing opinions on child rearing than your sister-in-law, either avoid the topic or simply listen as an outside observer and don’t engage.
11. Grab a Friend
Sometimes putting a voice to the thoughts running through your head can release their power. Grab a friend and talk through some of the issues you’re experiencing. Hearing them out loud can diffuse the angst and help you move forward.
12. Listen to Music
Putting on your favorite song or music is a great way to get out of your head. Not only is music a great distraction, but it can also be an effective stress management tool.
Picturing a relaxing location, setting, or scene can help quiet your mind. Close your eyes and imagine a place you love or have dreamed about. Put yourself there. Engage your senses like you’re actually there. See the colors and feel the sensations in your body. Take deep breaths while you enjoy this happy place in your mind.
14. Help Someone Else
Sometimes we get really caught up in our own worlds. When we’re able to extend a hand to someone else, we often realize that our problems really aren’t that bad. The act of helping can be beneficial for everyone involved.
15. Get in Nature
Taking breaks can be super helpful for quieting the mind. Taking that break in nature is even better.
A study at Stanford found that walking in nature could reduce the risk of depression. I know that I always feel calmer when I’m walking between enormous trees. It also helps me put things in perspective as I feel the height and expanse of the forest or ocean around me. My previous problems suddenly feel smaller and I often come back refreshed with clear thinking.
16. Get Creative
Immerse yourself in a creative activity to quiet your mind. Whenever I cook, I’m only focused on the meal and what I can do to enhance the dish. You may find that you lose yourself in a sport or gardening or other hobby. These can all provide great breaks for the mind.
17. Get Help
If you’re finding it difficult to quiet your mind and it’s impacting your health, you may want to seek outside help. Working with an expert on mindset and behavioral changes can be helpful in getting you back on track.
I currently have a few openings for one-on-one coaching if you’d like to work together. Read more here.
Still struggling to quiet your mind and negative chatter? My friend Kalee has a beautiful post on positive affirmations for women to check out.