Stressed? Having trouble powering down in time to get a good sleep at night? Frequently overthinking things? With factors like school, work, side projects, relationships, and daily struggles hanging in the balance, it’s no wonder you’re finding it difficult to stop and give your mind a rest. Now, while it’s usually a sign of relative success to be busy and moving forward in life, you must always remember that taking the necessary precautions to prevent a mental breakdown is crucial to the sustainability of said success. According to Wanda Thibodeaux, a contributing writer for Inc.com with a penchant for uncovering the scientific and psychological aspects that coincide with business operations, when we don’t shut off our brains and continue to push ourselves instead, “Our minds, so full and overwhelmed, protest in the worst of ways, and our productivity tanks”. Never let it get that far!
The following are a few tips to help you find what works when it comes to quieting your mind:
You can do this in a number of ways. If you’re constantly glued to your phone checking e-mails, messages and social media, leave it in a separate room when you get home and spend time watching TV, reading, or engaging in light hearted conversations in a space uncluttered by communication devices instead. If you’re usually indoors under artificial lighting, head outdoors and go on a walk, or a hike. Connecting with nature can help you free yourself from the grasps of your responsibilities for a short while. Another option can be signing up for a fitness/yoga class, or even making an appointment at the spa so as to be in a phone-free environment in which you’re able to release energy, be present, and give your mind a break all in the same token.
*Note that you can always implement this strategy in any way that best suits your schedule. If your day is insanely packed, do one of these activities early in the morning, or after dinner. Maybe even take an hour every Sunday!
Writing down a to-do list of tasks that need to be completed in the future, or sources of worry, can in fact be a solution for those suffering from poor sleep patterns due to an overactive mind. According to Michael Scullin, assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience at Baylor University in an article on Time.com, “... when people offload everything in their mind that might be hard to remember otherwise, it gives them some relief from that rumination,”. Take a piece of paper, or an agenda, list out everything that comes to mind right before bed, and see whether or not you’re still kept awake as often by the recollection of the various things that need to get done.
For those constantly plagued by worry, this is a solid mantra to repeat. Let’s say you have a huge exam coming up and you’re consumed with whether or not you’ll pass. Chances are you’ve prepared and the odds of you failing are slim. However, if you’re having trouble convincing yourself of that, you can take your mind through a little exercise of assessing the worst possible outcomes.
What’s the ABSOLUTE worst thing that could happen when you take the exam? You fail. Okay, so you fail, what’s the worst thing that could come out of that? You have to retake the exam. Okay, so you have to retake the exam, what’s the worst case scenario with respect to that outcome? You have to study everything all over again. Now ask yourself this: is that really the end of the world? Sure, it may be annoying/inconvenient, and sure you may need to readjust your trajectory. BUT, your health will stay the same, your relationships will go unchanged, you’ll still be able to graduate eventually, and all in all, you will get through it. The more you take yourself through this mental exercise, the more you’ll be quick to realize that whatever happens, you can handle it! It’s never the end, so there’s no point in worrying. Be at peace knowing that!
As confirmed in a Huffington Post article that speaks to the positive effects our loved ones can have on our lives, “They're our rocks. But they do more than just make us laugh and offer a shoulder to cry on -- their mere presence can also physically reduce our stress”. Make sure to spend time with a friend, a sibling, a co-worker that usually lifts your spirits, your parents, or even your dog! If there’s anyone/anything in your life that can act as a soundboard for the issues you’re going through, or who simply makes all the anxiety melt away when they’re in your presence, reach out to them. Your stress-laden mind will thank you for it!
Exercise can do wonders for your mental state! Mayoclinic.org gives credibility to this statement by listing the following three benefits of physical activity, “it pumps up your endorphins”, “it’s meditation in motion”, and “it improves your mood”. Let’s unpack that a bit. To the first point, when endorphins are released, you essentially just feel good, plain and simple. There are many exercises you can do to achieve this outcome (running, tennis, elliptical, etc.), so try a few out and see which ones give you the maximum desired effect. To the second point, exercise is a form of meditation, because it helps you take your mind off of the stresses you’re combatting, and let’s you focus on what your body is doing in the present moment. This is amazing for those of us who live our lives worrying about the future. Finally, to the third point, mood improvement is essential to being able to deal with whatever life throws at you. Physical activity can help you release pent up energy, improve self-esteem, and sleep better. So, what are you waiting for? Get that body moving!
All in all, it’s important to be proactive in decompressing and quieting the mind. Even if nothing detrimental has occurred as of yet, and you feel as though your head is still above water, it’s still entirely possible to hit a wall one day. In order to prevent burnout, losses in productivity, and overwhelming amounts of stress, find out what works for you and give your mind the space it needs to recuperate so that it can continue doing the work it does for you each and everyday. Best of luck!
Cover photo credit - Weheartit