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?