Have you ever felt like you couldn’t silence that constant ‘noise’ in your head? Do you tend to feel restless and ‘fidgety’ every time you try to relax?
Perhaps you’re so overwhelmed by your daily to-do list that you barely find a moment to put your mind on hold. Or maybe your job turned out to be more challenging than you imagined and now your mind is riddled with worries.
Sometimes, the context in which we live and work can be extremely demanding and tiring. And so inner peace becomes a distant dream and the breathtaking pace at which things change, and progress can leave us stressed, irritated, and ultimately unproductive.
Considering that 1 in 5 employees is at risk of burnout, perhaps it’s time to make room for relaxation in our busy schedule. Here are seven practices that can help you ‘take a break’ and quiet your mind.
#1 Mindfulness meditation
As you’ve probably heard, mindfulness meditation is among the most popular and effective strategies to keep stress in check and quiet your mind.
Recent studies suggest that even brief mindfulness programs can reduce distress and improve positive mood states.
By helping you put aside past pains and future worries, this approach teaches you to focus on the ‘here and now.’ In other words, instead of being a rush 24/7 and utterly oblivious of what goes on around you, mindfulness helps you become a quiet observer; a spectator who stops to enjoy the beauty of the present moment.
And there’s absolutely nothing complicated about this practice. One easy way to exercise mindful awareness is by choosing a focus object. Next thing you want to do is pay attention to as many details as possible: shape, size, colour, texture, anything that helps you remain anchored in the present moment.
Sometimes, all it takes to quiet your mind is a bit of present-moment awareness.
#2 Nature Walks
Nothing helps you clear your head like a pleasant walk in the park or an exciting mountain hike. For human beings, nature has always been a source of inspiration and relaxation; a place where we can forget about our troubles and enjoy the raw beauty of the wild bush or majestic mountain.
Over the last decades, urbanisation has made it difficult for many of us to connect with nature. Whether we’re at home or the office, we spend most of our waking hours indoors.
Researchers believe that spending time in nature can reduce rumination and improve mental well-being.
If you’re looking to achieve some peace of mind, make sure you spend time in nature as often as possible. Take a walk to the nearest park or go to the beach – if you’re living close to one. If you’re too busy during the workweek, perhaps a weekend getaway might be a viable alternative to enjoy some fresh air and quiet time.
Although many consider yoga a spiritual practice, this practice involves more than just exploring your spiritual side.
In broad lines, yoga is a practice that combines physical activity, breathing exercises, and various body poses (or asanas).
In fact, studies suggest that yoga practitioners experience greater homeostatic capacity. In other words, people who practice yoga regularly can maintain an overall state of internal balance. Furthermore, yoga can also help you improve metabolic and physiological resilience.
Join a weekly yoga class and give yourself the chance to experience some peace of mind. If it’s too much, you can always look for an online beginners’ course that lets you practice yoga at home.
#4 Breathing exercises
Breathing – one of the most basic human reflexes – is also a natural way to achieve relaxation.
Just like meditation and yoga, breathing exercises are a quick strategy to relieve stress, put aside your worries, and quiet your mind.
We know for a fact that breathing and emotions influence each other. When we are stressed or worried, our body releases hormones that produce various physiological changes. As a result, our breath can become superficial, and our heart rate increases significantly.
Given all these changes that can result from too much stress and worry, the first step to a quiet mind is a ‘quiet’ body. In other words, you can start by focusing on your breathing.
One good example is deep breathing:
- Breathe in through your nose while counting to seven.
- Breathe out through your mouth while counting to seven.
Sometimes, all you need to achieve mental calm is a simple breathing exercise.
#5 A quick nap
Although it may sound a bit counterproductive, a quick nap is a perfect way to silence your mind and enjoy a moment of ‘quiet.’
For years, people considered naps a sign of laziness. However, recent studies suggest this habit might actually improve our overall health and performance. For example, one recent study revealed that napping could improve working memory.
It seems that napping not only has a relaxing and refreshing effect on your mind and body, but it also facilitates cognitive and emotional health.
A quick nap during the lunch break or in the afternoon (if you can somehow make room in your schedule) is the ideal way to quiet your mind for 30 minutes and recharge your batteries.
Just make sure you don’t over-do it. Otherwise, you end up wasting the entire day, thus giving yourself other reasons to worry and ruminate.
#6 Focus on the positives
One of the reasons why we might find it impossible to put our mind on hold is that we’re always preoccupied with all sorts of future worries and ‘worst-case’ scenarios that keep circling through your head.
Sometimes, it almost feels as if we’re trapped in an endless rollercoaster of negative thoughts and irrational fears that drain our energy and ruin our motivation.
Every negative aspect that you choose to focus on is yet another reason to keep your mind busy and overwhelm yourself pointlessly.
Maybe taking some time to go over the positives can help you quiet the annoying ‘buzz’ of everyday problems and future worries.
In fact, why not start your morning with a gratitude list where you write down a few reasons why you feel grateful that day.
#7 Speak with a qualified psychologist | counsellor
AHPRA registered Psychologists and qualified counsellors are here to listen and can help you get your issues or problems off your chest without feeling judged or scrutinised. Sometimes all it takes to ease your mind is to talk to someone who will listen in a safe and comfortable environment.
If you need to talk with a qualified mental health practitioner, get in touch with us today.