When our thoughts are running wild, how do we calm our mind and find clarity?
A calm, quiet mind is a goal we all work towards. As we struggle with the hustle and bustle of today’s world and the rat-race that is our work, we often become inundated with thoughts that run across our minds every day. We become anxious, stressed, and find it harder to see the beauty of the life we have.
Quieting the noise of our thoughts, learning to stimulate our minds positively, and intentionally focusing our minds on things that are beautiful lovely and true isnt only good for mental health, it’s biblical!
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.Philippians 4:8
We are called to think on beautiful, true and pure things, and most times the thoughts that race through our minds fall in a spectrum quite the opposite! Negative thoughts and a mind that isnt allowed to rest and be rejuvenated can lead to foggy memory, insomnia, and slower growth and repair.
On the other hand, a mind that is stimulated with consistent intentional mental self-care is lively, confident, and calm! Keep reading for ways to quiet your mind and cultivate calm with mental Self-care.
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What is Mental Self-Care and how does it help you calm your mind?
Mental self-care is one of the most important practices and habits that you can develop to improve your mental health and overall well-being.
The mind needs both the rest and exercise (stimulation/challenges) to perform optimally. Sometimes our minds need rest while other times, our minds need some form of stimulation. Without both, our minds would slowly become less healthy.
It is important, therefore, to understand when our minds need a challenge or some rest, and when to reboot our brains so that we can interact and engage with others intellectually.
How to quiet your mind and cultivate calm
If you are struggling with a mind that can’t seem to slow down, and the thoughts that race through your mind have logged so many miles you should be an ultramarathoner, you may be wondering what the best way to quiet your mind is. Cultivating calm requires that you first acknowledge that you do need to slow down! You have to admit that the “hustle all day” and “team no sleep” are not healthy! Yes you can cope and yes you may be surviving but this way of living is not sustainable.
Once you have acknowledged that the busyness is a problem, try incorporating one of these three approaches that can provide strategies to manage stress and calm our minds.
- Action: this includes the actions that allow us to take charge of a situation that is causing us stress
- Acceptance: involves understanding our mindset and learning ways to change how we perceive stressful situations
- Emotion: this approach to quieting your mind teaches you how to deal with situations that are out of our control
Calming Your Mind Through Actions
Many times our minds are busy because of hesitance about an situation that requires us to make a stand or decision. As long as we remain undecided or on the sidelines, life happens around us and our minds will continue to race. These simple actions will not only help you to quiet you mind but also help you increase confidence.
- Practice assertiveness. Stand up for yourself. Be clear, firm, and confident in communicating what you need. Also, be open and clear in communicating when something is bothering you.
- Shut down the noise around you. Take some time off for yourself in a quiet place.
- Time management: Sometimes we are so overwhelmed with busyness that we create a stressful situation and become anxious. Manage your time by organizing and prioritizing your tasks.
- Delegate: Once you have organized and prioritized the tasks, note down what is important and needs your attention. And identify tasks you can delegate to your spouse, children, colleagues, and team members.
- Ask for help: When a task becomes difficult or requires external input, ask for help from those around you. You can also ask professionals for advice or viewpoints. You don’t need to have all the answers all the time. Giving someone else a chance to help frees your mind to focus on what’s most beneficial or important.
- Develop clear, healthy boundaries. The boundaries should outline what you can accept and won’t accept from others, your priorities, and the physical space you need from other people. Healthy boundaries reduce stress in our lives because we implement systems that recognize and respect our needs and well-being.
- Stop over-thinking. Take a break from your thoughts and distract yourself. You can pray, meditate, watch a movie, attend a comedy show, call up a friend for a chat, go for a long walk, or go for a swim.
Calming Our Minds Through Acceptance
This is the best approach to use in stressful experiences and situations that are beyond our control. Accepting that some situations happen beyond our control encourages us to focus our minds on the things that we can control.
- Eating healthy: Eating a well-balanced diet and reducing the intake of sugar, caffeine, and alcohol can lower our anxiety levels.
- Prayer and meditation help shift our focus from earthly things to God’s heart and desires for us.
- Relaxation: Techniques such as abdominal breathing, body scans, and guided imagery are helpful in stimulating a relaxation response in our bodies.
- Exercise: Get moving and set time daily for some exercise to lower your anxiety, get our hearts pumping, and release endorphins that leave us feeling happy and excited.
- Talk with others: This is a great way of releasing our worries and learning from others how they handle similar stressful situations. Journaling is an alternative if you do not feel like sharing. You could also engage free services (such as hotlines) and or the services of a professionals
- Resilience: Overcoming stressful situations builds our resilience and helps us bounce back from those experiences.
- Get sufficient rest and sleep: This is important for recharging our bodies and helping us cope with stressors. Try sleeping uninterrupted for 8 hours.
- Cut off negative thoughts about yourself or others. Think about the positive in every situation and avoid negative self-talk. Philippians 4:8 reminds us that “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things.”
Calm your Mind by Managing our Emotions
There are many ways that mental self-care and emotional self-care overlap. When it comes to learning ways to quiet your mind; managing your emotions and practicing emotional self-care can significantly impact the busyness of your mind positively. The following techniques can help you regulate your emotions and encourage a calm and confident mind.
- Positive affirmations help reduce our negative perceptions towards stressful occurrences. These affirmations trick our brain that a positive statement we think or speak of is actually reality. This trick enables us to see the world and experience it in a positive light.
- Cognitive restructuring was discovered by Dr. Ellis, a psychologist in the 1950s, to help physicians understand their patients’ negative emotions and challenge their beliefs. This technique was incorporated into cognitive behavioral therapy.
- Adversity-Beliefs-Consequences (ABC) technique, also developed by Dr. Ellis, helps us understand how our beliefs or responses to stressful events lead to certain outcomes or results. The psychologist claims that when we hold optimistic beliefs, we are more likely to have positive outcomes because our responses are influenced by those positive beliefs.
What Are Some Ways to Calm Your Mind?
Calming your mind at home
At home we often get the freedom to be wholly ourselves, but when we are overwhelmed and stressed it is hard to fully enjoy the freedom that comes from authenticity. The following self-care activities can help you quiet your mind and enjoy more cultivated calm.
- Avoid toxic environments
- Modify your language – take negative self-talk out of your life and begin to speak positively into your life. Practice positive speaking like saying “I can achieve this”
- Write down positive affirmations and remind yourself of your good qualities. Speak the good of situations around you, no matter how bleak they are. Focus on the silver lining.
- Take naps during the day to rest your mind and recharge your body. Sunday afternoons are also great times to nap and reset your brain for the week ahead.
- Challenge negative thinking – be aware of negative thoughts and focus on the positive. Challenge negative beliefs you have about someone or something.
- Learn something new – you can use a dictionary to learn a new word every day or use Google to learn something new about local history or geography. Or you could try learning something new about your culture and background. You may find something interesting such as the origin of your name, the origin of your great grandparents, and the lives of your ancestors.
- Try the dance challenges that have been trending on social media. One challenge that trended during the pandemic is the Jerusalem challenge. Practice the steps and invite your friends or family to join in for a time of laughter and bonding.
- Learn to say NO. Define your boundaries and be okay with saying NO to activities, people, or habits that make you uncomfortable or cause you to compromise your needs negatively. Be comfortable with saying NO and avoid seeking people’s approval by over-pleasing them or being a push-over.
- Do some handiwork– engage your hands in some crocheting or sewing to challenge your brain
- Expose yourself to new stimulus – this could be as simple as changing the layout of your living room furniture, repainting a wall, adding flowers or potted plants to a room, etc. Changing how your environment looks like is a great stimulus for your mind
- Create a morning ritual – This ritual could include praying, reading God’s Word, and meditating on some of His promises.
- Make your bed – you could schedule this to be done first thing every morning.
- Try an adult coloring book.
- Read your favorite magazine or blog
- Read some inspirational autobiographies. Look for books, videos, and online stories about people who have gone through challenges and come out victorious. Get some inspiration from them on how to overcome adversity and become a resilient woman.
- Unplug from social media and technology
- De-clutter your home. Start with a small space such as the pantry. Get rid of anything that has expired. Then sort and arrange using your own custom system such as color-coding or according to food type (such as dry cereals, canned goods, and liquids)
- Add items to your home that make it feel cozy and comforting. A throw blanket on your sofa and lighting up scented candles can help you de-stress after a long working day.
- Try a new hobby– find something new that you would like to try out (such as salsa dancing or painting) or revisit an old hobby (such as pottery or playing a musical instrument)
- Revive an old hobby. If you played saxophone in school, get a new one or trace the old one and see if you still enjoy it. You can record yourself doing those hobbies and create a YouTube channel. With sufficient followers, you can monetize your channel and earn some income from that hobby.
- Journal your thoughts and feelings. Releasing what you feel on paper can calm your mind and soothe your spirit.
- Work with your hands: Train your hands to do something that also engages your mind, such as crocheting and sewing. Both need some concentration even though the hands do most of the work.
- Write reviews of your business or a business that you have visited. It could be a restaurant, bookshop, spa, or an online store on Amazon or Etsy.
- Do not carry your work responsibilities to home. Manage your work hours for work and be productive during that time. When home, have time for family and rest.
- Take a day or a week off for a self-care day
- Go on vacation to relax and recharge
- Practice deep breathing exercises when you feel stressed out
- Play games that promote stress relief.
- Engage in group activities such as visiting a national park, going to the zoo, or hiking
- Listen to podcasts, TEDx talks, and videos about relaxation techniques for stress management
- Attend a comedy show and allow yourself to laugh
- Attend a worship night or concert, and spend your time in prayer, thanksgiving, and praising God for what He has done in your life.
- Spend time with nature. This will boost your mood and calm your emotions and mind. Spending time outdoors can also help lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone.
- Plant something in your garden. Getting your hands dirty and engaging in physical work re-focuses your mind onto the action and helps you feel much happier.
- Cook something delicious from your garden. You can make a nice green salad using fresh vegetables you harvested outside your kitchen.
- Volunteer at a shelter or help someone achieve a certain task. Donating time gives us a sense of purpose and raises our self-esteem. Helping others can also lower your anxiety levels
- Board games: These are a great way to stimulate your mind. Try your hand at a new game such as chess. There are also online board games that you can join and play against people from all over the world. You can also try putting together a new jigsaw puzzle.
- Take up a new course: There are many online courses that you can choose from. You can learn how to write, create a product and market it, cook, grow different types of plants, and work on DIY projects. There are also professional online courses that can help you grow your skill and knowledge of a certain area.
Calming your mind before bed
Try these relaxing activities to help you calm you mind as you prepare for bed. Making sure you cultivate a mindset for calm before sleeping will help you fall asleep sooner as well as enjoy much more a more restful night sleep.
- Create an evening ritual– this could be a warm, luxurious bath with scented candles and dimmed lights to create a calming environment for your body and mind.
- Give yourself a massage– massage your feet, legs and hands
- Play soothing music that teases your mind to sleep.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed. Calming and soothing organic options such as chamomile tea can help calm your mind and prepare for bed
- Remove stimuli from the bedroom. This could mean moving the TV to another room and using low-wattage lighting to create a dimmed atmosphere that calms your mind and prepares you for sleep
Calming your mind at work
Who doesn’t feel exhausted and overwhelmed at work? For myself, I LOVE what I do, but there are days when the stress of patient care along with all of the additional tasks that I am required to complete completely mentally drain me. The following mental self-care activities have significantly helped me to be calm and confident without the added stress that work can bring.
- Use realistic deadlines for your work. Take a cue from project management professionals who come up with an early and late start and completion dates for their tasks/activities. Add a defined ‘float’ time for your deadlines and communicate the latest completion date you can give to an activity. This relieves the pressure of handing in a project or completing based on the earliest date. You can work at your pace and send ahead of the ‘latest by’ headline.
- Do not tolerate disrespect and discrimination from anyone in the office. Holding in mistreatment will cause your stress. Report any instances of discrimination to the appropriate authorities.
- Work-life balance is important because you need to set aside time for work responsibilities and time for self-care
- Take breaks and stretch your body. Practice deep breathing techniques to relax your mind.
- Use different routes to common destinations: This is a great way to challenge your mind. Use different routes when going to school, work, or home. Choose different modes of transport to engage your mind as well. Try walking a different route to the park or cycling to work using a longer route.
- New stimulus: Stimulate your mind to new visual, sensory, oral, (taste, smell) experiences by changing the look of your work environment. This could be as simple as changing the layout of your desk and items on your desk. De-clutter your workspace and introduce stimuli like flowers, picture frames, or headphones to listen to soothing music while your work. If you work alone in a closed-door office, you could light a scented candle or diffuser.
- Let go of any anger towards colleagues: Ask God to help you get rid of your anger. Forgive your colleagues and bosses, and forgive yourself. Galatians 4:26b cautions us not to “ let the sun go down while you are still angry”. Further, Galatians 4:31 reminds us to “get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.”
- Mind your language in the workplace: Do not engage in verbal arguments with clients, bosses, or colleagues. Avoid slanderous conversations with colleagues. Do not engage in negative talk and do not grumble. “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life (Philippians 2:14)”
These are a few proposed ideas that can help calm your mind and improve your mental health and general wellbeing. The beauty of these mental self-care routines is that they are easy to implement, budget-friendly, and have a long-term positive impact on our brain health and quality of life. I recommend that you begin with a few ideas and incorporate more self-care activities as you build momentum.
Want to build a self-care checklist of your own? Join the Undoubted Grace Tribe and get access to our self-care checklist guide and other self-care, balanced living, and organization resources