You work hard. Your partner works hard. Your kids work hard. In fact, Americans work more than anyone in the industrialized world; they take fewer vacation days and they retire later. In a society that prizes hard work and lots of it, it’s easy to find yourself in a situation where you’re feeling overworked, overtired and overstressed. Here are a few tips to help you and your family calm your brains when your thoughts just won’t stop.
When you’re already stressed, clutter at home can make you feel even worse. People often think of cleaning as a chore, but don’t underestimate the calming effects of a tidy home. Your home should be a haven from stress, and while cleaning can give you a much-needed sense of organization, the physical-activity side of tidying also has its own calming effect.
Listen to Music
Music can have a truly soothing effect on an overworked mind. Throw on your favorite tune(s) in the car or as you tidy up and sing out loud. This can distract you from all of the tasks (work-related, school-related, family-related etc.) that might be weighing on your mind—let it absorb your attention and give in to your emotions for a few minutes.
Make a List
If you’re trying to fall asleep or you’re trying to leave work at work or school at school but you’re mentally bombarded by all of the things you need to get done, break out a pen and paper and write those things down. When your mind is whirring, it can be helpful to simply put your thoughts down on paper. Making a list means you won’t forget any of the tasks you’re thinking of and allows you to visualize your priorities, enabling your mind to relax.
Go for a Walk
Walking briskly for 30 minutes a day can help you sleep easier and feel more alert during the day. If the day’s events are wearing on your mind, lace up your walking shoes and hit the pavement. Walking increases circulation and blood flow to the brain and has often been lauded by creatives as the best medicine for a blocked mind. If you’ve got a problem that needs solving, walk it out.
Talk it Out
When stressors (work, family, money, exams etc.) weigh heavily on your mind, sometimes, the best way to calm your mind is just to talk about your worries with someone you trust. Whether it’s mom, a best friend, a trusted colleague or teacher or coach, voicing your stress out loud and bouncing your thoughts off of someone else can often bring great relief—even if it’s simply hearing that someone else can relate to what you’re feeling or that your feelings are valid.
Sometimes, you have to choose to calm your mind. Turn off the TV, get into a quiet space and focus your thoughts. Spiritual meditation like prayer, mindfulness meditation (wherein you quiet your thoughts and focus on your surroundings and senses), movement meditation, repetitive mantra meditation…there are many types of meditative techniques. Do some experimenting and see if any of these techniqueshelp you as you attempt to calm your brain.
Detach yourself from the outside world. This is easier said than done as we are constantly connected, but it might well prove worthwhile to disconnect. Put your phone on silent and put it away (in a drawer, in another room), put your watch away and engage in an activity you enjoy without being connected to time. Pick up a book and just read. Go outside and just explore a trail. Without the constant reminder of minutes passing and inboxes pinging and people messaging, you can bask in quietness and be in the present.
Take a break from all of the obligations that fill your day and do something that you thoroughly enjoy. Paint a picture or draw some sketches, watch a favorite movie, play a game, write a story, read an old classic, play with your pet or your kids or your siblings; engage in something that really brings you joy and put everything else aside.
Feature Image: solarthermienator