Let’s face it, life is bananas, and it just keeps getting more bananas every single day. We all have so much on our plates; work, family, friends and our own dreams and personal maintenance. Sometimes I can barely find time to shower, eat lunch or even breath (I’m being a bit dramatic) you get the point, and I know you know what I mean. These high-stress lifestyles that “most” of us are living these days simply aren’t good for our health. It’s imperative we learn how to slow down and quiet the mind from time to time, let YogiNest show you how.
It’s not just our crazy busy lifestyles that keep our body and mind in overdrive but also the way the brain is wired. Did you know that on an average day our brains process anywhere between 50,000-70,000 thoughts? On top of that a large portion of these thoughts are stories that we tell ourselves; I’m not good enough, I probably won’t get the audition, I don’t think he really loves me, I feel like my friend’s don’t really like me, etc.” So on top of all the stress that we have just living our lives from day-to-day we also have to take care of our workload, significant other, friends, kids and wasted stories that are brain naturally creates on and off all day long. Don’t get me wrong, there are positive thoughts in there too but our brain still has to process those on top of everything else. So how can we quiet our minds, anytime and anywhere?
1. Remember To Breathe
I swear there are times that I stop and think to myself, “Am I even breathing right now?” Then I take a big deep breath in and let it all out and feel a million times better. This usually happens while I’m stuck in LA traffic and can’t remember why I moved here or why anyone would want to live here. I’ll never move though because I LOVE LA! So instead I breath. The next time you’re stuck in traffic, a long line at the grocery store or losing your mind at that awful DMV…breath. Depending on where you are, try one of the following exercises. You can literally do them anywhere and I promise they will help!
A. In Through The Nose, Out Through The Mouth:
This is a good one to do when you’re alone in the car. Take a nice, big, deep breathe in through the nose (with the mouth closed) and then open your mouth wide and let it all go. Do this a few times. You can make the exhale audible if you’d like, whatever feels best for you. This exercise literally takes a load off my back, I feel lighter and happier within 3 breaths like this. Repeat as many times as you’d like but try to do at least 3 rounds.
B. Inhale & Exhale Through The Nose & Count To 10:
This is a great one to do in public or even if you’re in a heated discussion with someone. They’ll never even know you’re doing it. With the mouth closed, inhale and exhale deeply through the nose. Nice long inhales, nice long exhales. Take your time with this one. Count 1 as you inhale, 2 as you exhale and do this until you reach the count of 10 and then start all over again. If you lose track and end up at 15, just stop and start back over at 1. This is a great way to slow the heart rate, increase oxygen levels and de-stress in a sticky situation.
Breathing exercises like these can help to activate the parasympathetic nervous system which helps to calm the body and the mind by slowing the heart rate.
2. Talk Yourself Out Of It
You don’t always have to be your own worst enemy, try being your own support system. Ever heard the word “Mantra”? It’s a chosen word, sound or short phrase that’s repeated to aid concentration. For this particular blog let’s stick to a word or short phrase. This one comes in handy when I’m on an airplane. I HATE flying, definitely my biggest fear. Mantra get’s me through take off and landing, in combination with one of the breathing exercises I listed above and some imagery as well. It’s so simple and once again no one even knows I’m doing it. Try it out:
A. One Word
Since we just talked about breathing, let’s use the word breath. I find that if I combine a breathing exercise with mantra it works a lot better for me. So for example, when I’m on the plane I might do something like this: Close the eyes and the lips, inhale deeply and slowly through the nose, exhale evenly through the nose and say to yourself, breathe. Then I do it again. Breathing in silently and exhaling the mantra out in my head. It wouldn’t hurt to include some form of positive imagery as well. In this example I could see myself as a bird, flying safely in the sky, no cares in the world, just safe and happy. I do this over and over until I notice that I’ve calmed down and we’re safely in the air, seatbelt lights are off and the flight attendants are safely walking around. This is when I know I’m safe.
B. Short Phrase
Let’s use the airplane scenario again, but this time using a short phrase. I’ll still be incorporating deep breathing as well as the imagery we just discussed. Let’s try the phrase “Calm Down.” Close the eyes and lips, and as you inhale slowly and deeply through the nose, say the word “Calm” to yourself, as you exhale evenly through the nose slowly and deeply, say the word “Down.” Repeat this as many times as necessary, imagining the bird, flying safely in the sky. I usually know I’m done when I feel my heart rate has slowed, my mood has shifted and I feel like I can conquer the world.
Your mantra can be anything your heart desires, so can the imagery. I would just highly recommend you imagine something safe and calming. The breathing exercises will be done as instructed.
3. Get It Out Of Your Head
Journal, journal, journal! I’m a big fan of journaling, can you tell? Some of the most successful people in the world journal on a regular basis. I think I’ve talked about this in previous blogs actually. I stand by it and highly recommend it. This might not be something you can do if you’re in the middle of a heated debate, that might not go over too well, but you can do it immediately after. Tip: For preventative brain overload journal every morning and every night before you go to bed. Even if you only write for one minute, that one minute has allowed you to empty thoughts that might keep you awake at night or keep you cranky during your day.
A. Let It All Out
If you’re journaling on a regular basis I wouldn’t recommend writing down negative thoughts each time you write or even every other time. This is simply for the times when you’re about to boil over. I typically write like this if #1 and #2 from this list just aren’t enough, then I let it all out. Sometimes things happen that we don’t want to talk about with someone else, but that doesn’t mean we should bottle up those emotions either. Get out a pen and paper and write, write, write. Don’t worry about grammar or spelling. Do not censor yourself at all. Then when you’re all done, rip it up into a million pieces and throw it away. If you have a safe way to burn the note you can do that too. Keep these thoughts out of your journal, just write it down on any piece of paper, get it out of your mind and then out of your life.
B. Positive Projection
This is the opposite of the above mentioned. You can write about this stuff anytime you want, as often as you want. Write it in your journal, keep these thoughts close. This technique is like reverse psychology. So take that moment, the one that made you real mad, or stressed, or sad, whatever it might have been. Then flip it. So let’s say you’re having problems finding a new job and this is really stressing you out. Use “Positive Projection” to change the story in your head. Write about your day looking for your dream job. Write about the opportunities that you found and how excited you are to be communicating with such and such company and how you can’t wait to interview with them next week (even if you haven’t spoken to anyone and an interview isn’t scheduled.) Just focusing on the positive possibilities is better for your mind, body, stress level and your health.
Incorporating these techniques into your day-to-day lives is going to help you tremendously. Stress is the #1 killer. We can overcome stress. The tools we need to do this already exist inside of each and every one of us.
I hope these tools are helpful. Comment below if you have any questions or would like to add anything to this discussion. You can message me privately as well firstname.lastname@example.org