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5 Proven Unconventional Strategies To Make Your Mind Peaceful Again

5 Proven Unconventional Strategies To Make Your Mind Peaceful Again

Think of a time where you felt overwhelmed. I’m sure it wasn’t long ago. Maybe it was while you were at work and your boss started to rip on you for messing up a project . . . Or maybe worry started to creep and snowballed while you were at home making dinner for the family.

Regardless of where or when it takes place, losing your peace of mind and venturing deeper into anxiety causes the same physiological response: activation of the fight or flight response.

Your eyes dilate and you become more agitated. As you become more agitated, your heart beats faster and your breathing increases. Your mind and your body are being ”revved out” to the max as if there was an external threat.

Eventually if you cannot return to a peaceful state, you will crash into burnt out state.

So how do we avoid this? Should we follow the same tired old advice that is copy and pasted all over the internet like:

  • Just turn your mind off and relax!
  • Think positive?
  • “Just be?”

If we could actually do all of the above we would be Zen and peaceful all the time. The truth is this advice is vague and misleading. There is no such thing as turning your mind off while being alive.  You think all the time, even when you are asleep you are still thinking!  And even when we are not consciously aware of our thinking, our subconscious mind is busy thinking by processing information.

Think positive?  How do we actually do that? Should we jump up in the air and shout hurray? Maybe, but the techniques below to think positive are much more effective.

Just be?  Have you ever asked someone what was wrong and they said “NOTHING” in a problematic tone?  You knew they were pissed off and trying to hide it.  If you keep asking them what’s wrong they just might blow a head gasket.

Research indicates that trying to suppress negative thoughts is far more likely to increase misery than create a clear mind. In the 1980’s, Harvard psychologist Daniel Wegner conducted an experiment proposing students NOT to think about a white Polar Bear by suppressing the thought. Everyone was then asked to ring a bell every time the white bear came to mind. The result of the experiment? Daniel Wagner thought the cows were coming home because the bells never stopped ringing!

Attempting to suppress certain thoughts makes people obsess even more on the very topic they are trying to avoid.

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So if most conventional tips don’t work, what does? Here are 5 strategies you can implement today to keep your peace of mind.

1.  Write Your Heart Out 

If we had a nickel for every time we worried we’d be rich. All of us experience chaos, setbacks, hardships, life problems and anxiety. Perhaps you just went through a long term breakup, are experiencing conflict at work or are in danger of losing your job or maybe all three!

In the book The Writing Cure studies indicate that expressive writing resulted in a remarkable boost in psychological and physical well-being, including a reduction in health problems and an increase in self esteem and happiness.

Common sense and habit lead us to try and share our pain with others by talking it out with a buddy. This does have some effect, but not nearly as much as expressive writing, especially in the long term.

Why does expressive writing work as opposed to sharing your pain with others?  

The brain functions very differently to produce thoughts, speech and writing.  Thinking is the most unstructured and chaotic followed by speaking and then writing. While thinking, your thoughts jump all over the place, from one topic to another topic without much connection. Speaking is more logically connected and writing is the most structured and takes the most work. . . trust me. I’m struggling right now to write this article.

While I’m writing, my brain is working hard to string together letters into sentences, sentences into paragraphs and paragraphs into ideas!  Because of the reasoning, logic and more concrete structure, we are forced to think and make sense of what happened.

This structured sequence of logic and reasoning will help you solve your problems in addition to expressing your feelings in a way that makes sense.

The whole process of writing brings a tremendous peace of mind.

So if life gives you lemons and you want lemonade, reflect on it. Spend a few minutes each day writing a diary type account of you deepest thoughts and feelings about it.

2.  Name that state 

Like I said earlier, suppressing emotion causes more problems than good. The opposite of suppressing emotion is to acknowledge it and let it out. I don’t mean letting it out in a destructive smashing pumpkins kind of way, I mean letting it out by calling attention to it.

One way to let out an emotion is to cry but, most of us don’t have that option. Another way is to use just a few words to describe an emotion.

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An example would be saying to yourself out-loud, “I feel anxiety creeping in,” or “ All this new information is overwhelming.” Try to use simple terms and not to over elaborate. Opening up a full dialogue about an emotion will increase it, making it worse. The trick is to catch yourself during the onset and label it before you are consumed by its intensity.

Oddly enough people that were surveyed predicted that labeling emotions would make their emotions worse.  In 2005 Neuroscientist Matthew Lieberman, Associate Professor of cognitive neuroscience at UCLA proved with FMRI brain scans that labeling arising emotions significantly reduces activity in the brain associated with fear called the amygdala.

3. Tear it down and RE-FRAME it

If your emotional state has drifted too far past the point for labeling to work, re-framing will work. Re-framing has a stronger calming effect to bring you peace of mind but it takes more brainpower.

I’m sure you’ve heard of aphorisms like, “there’s a silver lining in every dark cloud” or “turning lemons into lemonade.” These are all examples of re-framing.

Reframing is essentially controlling your interpretation of the meaning of the situation.

Our emotional responses flow out of our interpretations of the world, if we can shift those interpretations, we can shift our emotional responses.

Here are a few techniques

4. Normalizing

Suppose you were having a routine vaccination done at the hospital. As you sit down, the doctor pulls out a needle and injects the upper part of your leg without saying anything. He then quickly leaves the room without saying a word but laughs.

After a minute, your leg starts tingling and loses feeling.

At this point you are probably in FULL panic mode!

Now suppose the same thing happened, but the doctor told you exactly what was going to happen. Suppose he said, “after I inject you it’s NORMAL for it to start tingling and lose feeling for about 30 seconds.”

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Not as bad, ehhh?  That’s because it is normal and you know what to expect. This kind of re-framing is called normalizing.

Here are some facts to make a few things seem normal:

It’s normal to feel anxious and overwhelmed the first time you start a new task, job or endeavor.

It’s normal to fail at something over and over until you achieve your final goal.

It’s normal to feel embarrassed when you make mistakes at work.

It’s normal to feel overwhelmed and challenged when raising children.

It’s normal to procrastinate by surfing the internet and reading articles like these.

Find out if what you are going through is normal.

Just knowing that it is normal is proven to bring you peace of mind.

5.  Time Frame

Just like you, I rush in the morning to get out the door by a certain time to make it work. Sometimes I take a little too long to eat breakfast and I end up in a mad dash to try and get to work on time. Sometimes in this mad dash I literally run around the house and I’ll do things like skip packing lunch and brush my teeth real quick just to save 2.333 minutes.

It seems trivial now, because the time frame is completely different. The fact that I have to be at work within a certain time makes 2.33 minutes seem like an eternity, but within a day or week it’s trivial.

Think about this and slow down next time you feel panicked because of time.

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Expanding the time frame you view your problem in will bring you peace of mind.

An experience can be viewed as “terrible” within the time frame of a week, but within the time frame of a few years or a lifetime, the event will seem trivial.

”Why am I rushing?  I have plenty of time to brush my teeth and pack my lunch, 5 extra minutes is nothing over the course of the day.”

“In a week from now I won’t even remember this, and neither will anyone else, why am I so worried?”

“I will be working for the rest of my life until I’m 65, what’s wrong with taking a sick day to spend more time with my kids, maybe I should take a year off?”

”I’m going to spend the extra time to do it right because it will pay off in the long run!”

If you don’t use it you lose it

So there you have it, a few unconventional strategies that will bring you peace of mind. Of course these strategies will not help if you just skimmed over the article and “keep that in mind.” You have to apply it, over and over again until it become ingrained in you. My suggestion is to take just one and apply it throughout the day for a week or two, then another one the week after.

There are plenty more, enough for a part 2 and maybe a part 3 so stay in touch, but for now, less is more. Implement what you know and make it a part of you!

To sum it up.

  • Name that state:  Call attention to your emotions as soon as they start to arise to express it.
  • Write your heart out:  Write a detailed account of what happened and what you will do to solve it.
  • Control your interpretation of the events (Re-frame)
  • Normalize it: Is that normal?
  • Time frame: What time frame are you referring to?

Featured photo credit: Girl Feeling Free / Photo by: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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Last Updated on July 3, 2020

30 Small Habits To Lead A More Peaceful Life

30 Small Habits To Lead A More Peaceful Life

In today’s world, true peace must come from within us and our own actions. Here are 30 small things you can do on a regular basis to increase your overall sense of harmony, peace, and well-being:

1. Don’t go to every fight you’re invited to

Particularly when you’re around those who thrive on chaos, be willing to decline the invitation to join in on the drama.

2. Focus on your breath

Throughout the day, stop to take a few deep breaths. Keep stress at bay with techniques such as “square breathing.” Breathe in for four counts, hold for four counts, then out for four counts, and hold again for four counts. Repeat this cycle four times.

3. Get organized and purge old items

A cluttered space often creates a cluttered spirit. Take the time to get rid of anything you haven’t used in a year and invest in organizational systems that help you sustain a level of neatness.

4. Stop yourself from being judgmental

Whenever you are tempted to have an opinion about someone else’s life, check your intentions. Judging others creates and promotes negative energy.

5. Say ‘thank you’ early and often

Start and end each day with an attitude of gratitude. Look for opportunities in your daily routine and interactions to express appreciation.

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6. Smile more

Even if you have to “fake it until you make it,” there are many scientific benefits of smiling and laughing. Also, pay attention to your facial expression when you are doing neutral activities such as driving and walking. Turn that frown upside down!

7. Don’t worry about the future

As difficult as this sounds, there is a direct connection between staying in the present and living a more peaceful life. You cannot control the future. As the old proverb goes, “Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it won’t get you anywhere.” Practice gently bringing your thoughts back to the present.

8. Eat real food

The closer the food is to the state from which it came from the earth, the better you will feel in eating it. Choose foods that grew from a plant over food that was made in a plant.

9. Choose being happy over being right

Too often, we sacrifice inner peace in order to make a point. It’s rarely worth it.

10. Keep technology out of the bedroom

Many studies, such as one conducted by Brigham and Women’s Hospital, have connected blue light of electronic devices before bed to adverse sleep and overall health. To make matters worse, many people report that they cannot resist checking email and social media when their cell phone is in reach of their bed, regardless of the time.

11. Make use of filtering features on social media

You may not want to “unfriend” someone completely, however you can choose whether you want to follow their posts and/or the sources of information that they share.

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12. Get comfortable with silence

When you picture someone who is the ultimate state of peace, typically they aren’t talking.

13. Listen to understand, not to respond

So often in conversations, we use our ears to give us cues about when it is our turn to say what we want to say. Practice active listening, ask questions, process, then speak.

14. Put your troubles in a bubble

Whenever you start to feel anxious, visualize the situation being wrapped in a bubble and then picture that sphere floating away.

15. Speak more slowly

Often a lack of peace manifests itself in fast or clipped speech. Take a breath, slow down, and let your thoughtful consideration drive your words.

16. Don’t procrastinate

Nothing adds stress to our lives like waiting until the last minute.

17. Buy a coloring book

Mandala coloring books for adults are becoming more popular because of their connection to creating inner peace.

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18. Prioritize yourself

You are the only person who you are guaranteed to live with 24 hours a day for the rest of your life.

19. Forgive others

Holding a grudge is hurting you exponentially more than anyone else. Let it go.

20. Check your expectations

Presumption often leads to drama. Remember the old saying, “Expectations are premeditated resentments.”

21. Engage in active play

Let your inner child come out and have some fun. Jump, dance, play, and pretend!

22. Stop criticizing yourself

The world is a hard enough place with more than enough critics. Your life is not served well by being one of them.

23. Focus your energy and attention on what you want

Thoughts, words, and actions all create energy. Energy attracts like energy. Put out what you want to get back.

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24. Assign yourself “complaint free” days.

Make a conscious decision not to complain about anything for a whole day. It might be harder than you think and the awareness will stick with you.

25. Surround yourself with people you truly enjoy being in the company of

Personalities tend to be contagious, and not everyone’s is worth catching. Be judicious in your choices.

26. Manage your money

Financial concerns rank top on the list of what causes people stress. Take the time each month to do a budget, calculate what you actually spend and sanity check that against the money you have coming in.

27. Stop trying to control everything

Not only is your inner control freak sabotaging your sense of peace, it is also likely getting in the way of external relationships as well.

28. Practice affirmations

Repeat positive phrases that depict the life and qualities you want to attract. It may not come naturally to you, but it works.

29. Get up before sunrise

Personally witnessing the dawn brings a unique sense of awe and appreciation for life.

30. Be yourself

Nothing creates more inner discord than trying to be something other than who we really are. Authenticity breeds happiness.

Featured photo credit: man watching sunrise via stokpic.com

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