What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare? So said William Henry Davies in 1911. More than 100 years have passed and no truer lines were written to reflect our present lives. The world of today is a deadline chasing one where everyone is just continuously on the move.
Stress is defined as any alteration within or outside of the human body, that causes emotional, physical, and psychological strain. The degree of strain depends upon your ability to cope up with the altered situation.
There is an intricate relationship between stress and your overall well-being. The more you get overwhelmed with the everyday stress around you, the more adversely your physical and mental health is impacted.
So, you want to control your mind.
Maybe you want to stop thinking about a recent breakup, or feel discouraged from a year of physical distancing and want to embrace a more hopeful perspective.
Unwanted thoughts can cause plenty of frustration and distress. You’re not alone in wanting to make them go away. It’s normal to have trouble convincing yourself to look up when feeling downcast in the face of stress and other challenges.
While actual mind control belongs in the realm of science fiction, you can work to change your mindset. It might take some effort to learn the trick of regaining control, but the 10 strategies below can help.
Identify The Thoughts You Want To Change
It goes without saying that you have to figure out what’s on your mind before you can begin to control it.
Nearly everyone experiences discouraging thoughts or emotional setbacks from time to time. If you’re currently experiencing some life challenges, you might find it even harder to maintain control over spiraling thoughts or your overall mindset.
Occasional intrusive thoughts are pretty normal, too. They can be distressing, but they often pass as quickly as they intruded, especially when you don’t engage with them.
Other troubling thought patterns might include:
- rumination, or looping thoughts
- negative self-talk
- cognitive biases, or errors in thinking that can affect your choices or interactions
- a fixed pessimistic outlook
Identifying specific thoughts and patterns can help you make the most out of the other tips that follow.
A calmer minded is a clearer mind
Stress has become a 24X7 experience in today’s age. We wake up with a stressed mind, go through the entire day, and take the stress with us when we hit the bed at night.
Continuously living with stress wears your body down in a multitude of ways and impacts your decision-making ability. When stress tightly coiled around your mind, you react instead of responding to the situation.
Stress also deeply hinders your ability to look at the bigger picture. The calmer the mind, the greater is your focus and awareness of your surrounding. A calm mind is a hub of all things positive and creative.
A step towards keeping your mind calm
Cultivating a calmer mind is both an art and a science. There are several techniques and practices that help you cultivate a mind that is calmer and less agitated.
One great way to get in the habit of accepting unwanted thoughts? Meditation.
It may not seem as if meditation actually helps you control your mind, especially when you first start out.
You sit, you relax, but no matter how you try to clear your head, random thoughts keep popping back up to distract you from the calm you’re trying to achieve.
Here’s what to know about meditation: It really can help change your brain, but you have to stick with it.
Mindfulness meditation, in particular, can help you become more skilled at focusing on things as they happen.
As you become more mindful, you’ll notice you no longer need to constantly pull your awareness back from troubling or distracting thoughts.
Meditation offers other benefits beyond improving control of your awareness: It can also relieve the intensity of negative emotions and stress, boost resilience and compassion, and even help slow age-related cognitive decline.
1. Deep breathing
“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.” —Thích Nhất Hạnh”
Your breathing is a crucial indicator of your overall health. It is the first thing that alters when you are under stress. It becomes quicker and shallower vis-a-vis your normal breathing pattern. Shallower breathing sends a signal to your brain to carry on with your fight-or-flight response. Deeper, calmer breathing impedes the fight-or-flight response and helps your mind to relax.
Regulating your breathing aids in generating a calming response in your body. There are various breathing techniques that you can adopt to manage your stress and calm your mind.
If you are a beginner in the world of breathing exercises, start with the easiest one. Inhale deeply and hold it to the count of four and then exhale up to the same count.
2. Compassion and kindness towards others
Being kind to strangers is the best way to give back to society. Being of service to others is one of the most profound ways to maintain and nurture connections with fellow humans. These random acts of kindness release dopamine, a happy hormone that ultimately boosts your mood and helps keep your mind calm.
Helping a stranger cross the road or carrying a young mother’s baby in the store while she fishes out her credit card may seem insignificant but they have a deep impact on your mind.
3. Connect with nature
Connecting with nature has therapeutic value for your holistic wellbeing. Take time out from your busy schedule and take a walk in the nearest garden. While you are taking a stroll, pay attention to what is happening around you- feel the air and inhale the fragrance of the flowers.
You could even choose a quiet corner in a garden, take deep breaths and let your mind feel calm and refreshed.
4. Relax your body
A relaxed body houses a relaxed mind. When your mind is relaxed, it’s as if a cloud covering your mind has been lifted. With the cloud gone, you begin to think clearer and sharper.
Meditation is fast gaining ground as an important technique for stress management and a calmer mind. It takes your body and mind in a deep state of relaxation ebbing the tension away. However, it is just one way.
Doing light stretches and yoga are also effective in keeping your boy relaxed . Choosing a quiet corner and reading your favorite book or a hot shower at the end of an exhausting day will also help you feel relaxed. Mix some Epsom salt in warm water and soak your feet in for a good night’s sleep.
Visualization is a powerful tool in calming your mind. It allows you to remove all negative energy around it and focus on the action that will help achieve what you desire. When you create a mental picture of what calmness would do to you, it would prove as a reference point for every time you are agitated.
Combining your breathing exercise with the visualization technique is a potent way to train your mind to stay calm. As you inhale, imagine calmness descending on every cell of your body and enveloping you in a warm, peaceful hug.
While you exhale, visualize that that stress is slowly leaving every pore of your body. All this while, hold on to the mental image of yourself as a calm person.
6. Never lose the bigger picture
It’s easy to lose your perspective when your thoughts are jumbled up. Calmness is not about running away from the situation, it is about facing it with a clear mind. Stress leads to negative emotions like anger, fear and anxiety.
As a result oftentimes we take an impulsive decision that might be detrimental for us. Identifying the source of your stress is the biggest step towards finding a solution. Keeping the bigger picture in sight helps you keep your mind calm.
A calm mind is all about training your mind to effectively deal with a stressful situation. Resilience doesn’t mean an eternal state of happiness but an ability to deal with the storm and emerge stronger when the storm passes away.