As moms we hold a lot of information in our heads, and sometimes that can be overwhelming. There are thoughts that fly in for a second to remind us to buy plastic forks for school, and then more important thoughts about how our kids and families are doing that linger. And then there are the thoughts that seem to taunt us by drifting in and out of our heads, and escaping us just when we need to remember them!
Sometimes in the middle of the day I find that my mind feels overly busy. I can be doing play-doh with my daughter, which I think would be distracting, but my mind can still be going a million miles an hour. There is a chattering upstairs that is hard to slow down, and I know it’s affecting other parts of my body because I feel myself get physically nervous.
In a perfect world, when this happens I could call up a friend or family member to vent, or I could find my nearest yoga studio. But the truth is, when your mind is running at its highest speed, there isn’t time to find the nearest meditation cushion and take a 10-minute break. We need quick and easy strategies that can start to turn the volume down in our minds.
Here are two strategies that I have found useful for slowing things down in my mind:
Take a 4-7-8 breath. Dr. Andrew Weil recommends this relaxing breath exercise to calm down, and some even suggest it can help for falling asleep. Here are the directions from Dr. Weil’s website:
*Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
*Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
*Hold your breath for a count of seven.
*Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
I like to repeat this entire exercise 3 or 4 times. Even if you can’t do the 8 breaths to exhale (I find this hard), it won’t matter because your mind (and body) will already be calming down since you’ve been focusing on counting.
Sing the words to a song. I discovered this exercise by accident, and it’s a useful one you can do anywhere (except perhaps a meeting). When your mind is becoming overly active, pick a song with words that you know, and sing it out-loud. Try it now, if you feel like it: Pick a song you like (Dancing Queen?). Start singing the words out-loud. When you’re done you’ll notice that you weren’t thinking about anything else except the song.
If you have access to a radio, you can find a song you know and sing along and you get really distracted quickly. If you’re with your kids, try You Are My Sunshine or another classic you can enjoy together :)
What other strategies do you have for slowing down an overly chatty mind?
I'm Lisa, a mother and psychologist dedicated to supporting moms. Read more here.
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