Calm Your Mind: 20 Ways to Quiet your Restless Thoughts
Calm your Mind
Do you ever feel like your mind is running the show? Do you get so lost in anxious and worried thoughts that you feel as though you’re not in control? We get lost in cycles of overthinking, obsess over problems, and allow negative thought patterns to cycle through our minds for months or even years.
But relaxing isn’t easy in today’s world! There are devices everywhere, tempting us like the snake in the Garden of Eden. We have TV, work, children, and alcohol all scheming to pull us away from inner peace.
So one of the most powerful things we can do in today’s world is learn how to calm the mind amidst all the chaos. The world that we live in is an external expression of our inner restlessness, and it also contributes towards that mental disquiet – a vicious cycle.
We have to go inward.
If you can keep calm during the storm, you can be of service to others; you can be a leader, a teacher. And when you can serve others, you’ll find your own problems a fraction of what they were before.
But you have to make the effort!
We’re all stressed out!
Did you know that 77% of people experience stress that affects their health? That’s 3 out of 4 people reading this! Are you one of them?
The main causes of stress are money, work, family, health, and job stability. The problem is that stress and worry don’t help any of these areas of life; in fact they usually make them worse.
The symptoms of stress include anger, irritability, fatigue, disinterest, anxiety, and depression. There are also physical symptoms like headaches, indigestion, and muscle tension. So that’s not exactly ideal!
But stress also makes you focus excessively on yourself. It depletes your energy, reduces your creativity, and narrows your vision. It also decreases productivity, and prevents you from connecting with other people.
Stress should be reserved for when a grizzly bear is chasing you off a cliff, or when your infant is tapping a Siberian tiger with a stick. You aren’t supposed to feel stressed every day. It does serious damage to your bodily systems and mental health.
So my advice to you is simple: dedicate a short time every single day to the following practice: calm your mind. Make it your priority. Make it a matter of life and death, because in a way, it is.
In this guide I’ve included 20 different ways to calm your mind. Choose some that suit you, and practice them regularly and with discipline. Experiment to find which ones are most effective. A few minutes a day is enough at the start.
20 Ways to Calm your Mind
1. Breathing techniques
Practice simple breathing techniques like deep breathing or measured breathing. These simple exercises will help you calm your mind in a very short time, and if you practice every day, you’ll build up a defense to the stress response. Read more about breathing techniques here.
2. Yoga postures
Choose a few simple yoga poses like forward fold, downward dog, cobra, and child’s pose. You could also do some sun salutations or watch a simple yoga video on YouTube for help. Yoga is powerful because the stretching relaxes the body, which in turn calms the mind. It also helps prepares the spine for meditation so practice before you sit to meditate.
No surprise that I would recommend meditation as a relaxation practice. Here’s my ultimate guide to meditation to help you learn how to do it. In my eyes, this is the most effective and powerful technique there is to calm the mind in the long term. And it helps you to identify the problems in your life that are causing stress. Once identified, they are easier to overcome.
Repeating an affirmation every day is very effective at calming the mind. It shuts out negative mental noise, self-judgments, and internal criticism. Find some affirmations and try repeating them in the morning before you get out of bed. I promise it will change your day. Try a simple one like, “In my life, everything is unfolding exactly as it should.”
Visualization helps us change our mindset and access deeper states of peace and joy. When we imagine a calming scene in our minds eye, it helps lift our consciousness out of the small worries of today. Instead it focuses our attention on higher sensations of calmness and innocent joy. Try imagining yourself floating slowly up to space and being surrounded by emptiness and stillness.
Take a day or a half-day to get away from distractions, work, technology, and just experience being. During this time you can meditate, pray, practice yoga or any other techniques. It’s a great way to reset. Stress is worst when it builds up without respite. We need to take a break from it, and then the pressure is somewhat released. Seclusion is one of the best ways do this. And leave the phone at home.
When we pray in earnest, we attract deep calmness and mental quiet. Ask for guidance, for peace, and for joy. Express gratitude for all your blessings and challenges. Giving away your problems to a higher power enables you to let them go. Praying for others is even more powerful. I find the best times to pray are in the morning upon waking and before going to sleep at night.
Journaling has been one of the most important habits I’ve formed over the years. In fact, these days, it’s hardly a habit because I only do it when I feel the need — about once a week. But when my mind begins racing, it’s a great way to get back on track and slow down the worrying thoughts and emotions. When you get it down on the page, it’s like you expel the problems from your body and mind. It helps you put everything into perspective.
Most of the time we go about our days on autopilot. Try to stop every now and again and allow yourself to be fully present. Notice the feeling of your body or the rhythm of your breath. This pulls you out of thoughts and into a state of awareness. Watch and notice sensations without judgment. There are many mindfulness exercises that you can practice. Read about them here.
Labeling also helps you to become non-attached and let go of useless thoughts and worries. When you’re feeling anxious, notice and mentally label it, “anxiety.” If you notice your mind is busy, mentally note, “busy.” When we label our thoughts and emotions, it helps us to accept them and then move on. We stop getting sucked into the story.
Although it can be bleak out there sometimes, we have to remember that joy is part of who we are. Natural joy is most apparent in children. Try to find time to play and enjoy each other’s company. We can play board games, kids games (if you have kids), and made-up games. Playing helps us to stop taking everything so seriously and this helps keep the mind quiet.
Although it’s often the last thing we want to do when times are hard, try to do a short daily workout. 15 minutes is enough. Moving the body helps to get the energy moving, so it reduces anxiety and mental restlessness. If you can grab some dumbbells, that can help or just do a simple bodyweight workout, or go for a run.
13. Choose media wisely
Avoid getting too sucked into the news. It tends to lower our energy and our consciousness into fear and worry. Choose comedy shows, uplifting reading, and other positive media. I love British sitcoms: The IT crowd, Cuckoo, Crashing, and Peep Show are all good fun.
14. Get off the phone
Staring at your devices for 12 hours a day is not going to do anything for your wellbeing. We justify it in all sorts of ways: we’re learning; we’re doing something important. There are so many reasons to pick up the phone, but try to put it away and leave it alone for a few hours here and there. Mental restlessness comes from training our brains to be distracted. And there is nothing better at this than the device in your pocket.
15. Have a routine
Having set times to perform certain tasks helps to quiet the mind as well. Instead of having a to-do list, research show that we’re more productive when we assign certain times to certain tasks. It’s called time-boxing. So decide what you will do at different times of the day, and be sure to include time for self-care and relaxation.
16. Listen to calming music
Jump on Youtube and find some relaxing music that you enjoy. As an experiment, you can try listening to heavy metal music for ten minutes, then observe how you feel. Then listen to meditation music and see how you feel. The difference is profound. Music can calm the mind in no time and raise your spirits.
17. Eat well
During hard times, it’s easy to stare into the fridge vacantly 5 times per hour, eating random snacks with little regard for the consequences. Try to eat at set times and plan what you’ll eat. If you want to snack, try to have healthy snacks and limit sugar and sweets. Poor eating habits are one of the main reasons our minds are so restless. Proper eating leads to deep calmness.
18. Talk about it
If you’re worried, stressed, or anxious, it’s a good idea to call someone up and speak about it. What are you worried about? What are you feeling? You don’t need to talk about why and you don’t need to solve any problem. But it’s good to say, “Hey, I feel this way right now, or I’m worried about this.” You may find that you feel better and more peaceful immediately. Try to find someone who’ll listen rather than trying to fix you.
19. Help someone out
This is one of the most underrated treatments for all kinds of mental unrest. When we help someone out, it cuts away so much mental disquiet and connects us with peace. The simple act of serving someone takes away the sense of ego and replaces it with connection. Connection is what so many of us are longing for and it is missing from so many of our lives. It keeps you sane and peaceful.
This final piece of advice was one of the most important things I ever heard. If you take that first drink, it will likely be a downward spiral until you are back to where you were before. Do everything you can to just avoid that first drink, because that’s the one that will kill you, not the last one.
Download a free meditation starter pack now to learn how to meditate in simple steps to stop that restless mind from wandering.
I honestly believe that meditation is the most powerful and effective way to calm the mind. Check it out by clicking the button below.