Post Updated on September 14, 2020
If you’re an overthinker, worrier, or perfectionist, you probably love the idea of relaxation but hate that it doesn’t come naturally to you. Maybe the hardest part about self-care isn’t letting your body relax, but rather figuring out how to quiet your mind.
Ever since I was young, I’ve sought out ways to keep myself entertained. My mom used to say I couldn’t sit still for five minutes because I had to be doing something. Even now when I’m watching Netflix or going for a walk, I find myself tempted to scroll through my phone to keep my mind occupied.
Most of us seek out constant stimulation because we don’t want to feel bored, but that only makes it harder for us to relax. The need for stimulation means that your brain doesn’t know how to shut off, so it wanders from one thing to the other on random tangents.
Before you know it, you’re worrying about something that wasn’t even an issue five minutes ago. All of this leaves you feeling mentally burned out and exhausted.
So when your mind is busy, how do you make it shut up? I could tell you to take a bath or go for a walk, but we all know that won’t exactly stop your mind from chattering at you. Instead, here are ten things to try when you want to quiet your busy mind.
10 Ways to Quiet Your Mind
Obviously there are physical benefits to exercise, but it can also do wonders for your mind. Getting out of your head and into your body is a helpful way to direct any scattered energy to a different place. Interval sprints or walks, weight-lifting, kickboxing, and dance all force you to focus in different ways. Though I love yoga and pilates, I do find the slower nature of them can cause me to start thinking about my to-do list again.
You knew this one was coming, right? Meditation is so important for anyone who lives in their own head because it encourages you to sit still without reacting to your thoughts. Though meditation is difficult in the moment, your head will feel calmer after you’ve done it. Try a guided bodyscan meditation which will shift your focus to your body, rather than your thoughts.
Learn how to start a meditation practice here.
3. Write a List
Write down every little thing that’s floating through your head. The to-dos, worries, calls to make, emails to respond to – write it all down so you can see it in front of you. Then use the Ivy Lee method and write down your six most important tasks in order of importance and work on each one until they’re all complete.
Read this post to learn how to declutter your mind with the brain dump method.
4. Make or Create Something
I find that making or creating something is an amazing way to quiet your mind. Though I love eating more than cooking, following a new recipe and trying to successfully make it can distract my mind and give it a break. There are times when I don’t want to spend a ton of time making a meal, but there are other times when it can come in handy when you need to focus on something else.
5. Declutter Your Space
Your physical environment can have a huge impact on your mental state. While it doesn’t affect some people, I’m someone who feels more stressed out when the space around me is messy. If you feel the same way, get rid of things you don’t need, organize those piles, and clean the parts of your home that you haven’t touched in who knows how long.
Learn how to create a peaceful space around you in this post.
6. Share What’s on Your Mind
Nothing good comes from dwelling on your thoughts and keeping them locked up in your head. If you have something on your mind that you want to stop rehashing, get it out. Write it down in a journal, talk about it on Instagram stories for anyone who will listen, or talk out loud to yourself (we all do it, don’t pretend like you don’t ?).
7. Read a Fiction Book
When I read non-fiction books, my mind tends to go into overdrive with any new concepts I’m learning. Thoughts like, “How can I put what I’m learning to use?” or “I’ve been doing this all wrong and I need to makeover my life ASAP” can cause me to want to act right away, even though I already have a crazy to-do list. Fiction (especially those cheesy romance novels) allows your mind to escape from the real world for a little while.
8. Make an Action Plan
If you’re worried about how you’re going to get everything done in the next few weeks, make yourself a plan. Identify what needs to get done, how long it will take, and when you’re going to do it. Then set a start and finish date. Having a plan gives your mind a break from thinking about how you’re going to fit it all into your schedule.
9. Get Away From Your Phone
When your mind is restless, it’s easy to think that scrolling on the internet will provide an escape. There are definitely ways to make this happen if you’re intentionally following and staying on sites that make you feel calm, but most of the time the content we consume can lead to more overwhelm and overthinking. If you need to calm your mind down, take a break from your phone.
Want a healthier relationship with social media? Here are 5 tips to make it happen.
10. Force Yourself to Focus
Sometimes you need to focus, but your mind just won’t let you. When that happens, you have to force yourself to get into the zone. Here are some things to do when you need to focus:
- Use the Pomodoro technique to focus on the task at hand for 25 minutes and then take a break
- Put your phone on airplane mode or do not disturb mode
- Snooze notifications or emails on your phone and computer
- OneTab – this Chrome extension consolidates the millions of open tabs you have into one
- Facebook News Feed Eradicator – this extension blocks the Facebook newsfeed so you only see notifications when you log in