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21 Homemade Cleaner Tips That Actually Work Better Than Commercial Cleaners

21 Homemade Cleaner Tips That Actually Work Better Than Commercial Cleaners

You may have heard of cleaning with vinegar and baking soda, but you may doubt if they really work. I can assure you that they absolutely work – and work effectively.

Let me be honest: cleaning is not my favorite thing to do. Moreover, unpleasant odors and the air-contaminating nature of commercial cleaners always troubled me and caused me to put off cleaning.

We know most commercial cleaners are harmful to our health and the environment. The challenge is to make an old habit into a new lifestyle. You can find the health and environmental effects of commercial cleaning products by checking the EWG rating by Environmental Working Group. The rating criteria include concerns with asthma, skin irritation, and cancer. Try looking up your “natural” commercial cleaner’s rating.

In search of more pleasant and natural cleaning methods, I dumped all commercial cleaning products and replaced them with non-toxic homemade cleansers about a year ago. I can breathe much better while cleaning, and I am very pleased with this lifestyle change, which will last for the rest of my life. More importantly, these homemade cleaners not only efficiently clean almost anything, but also often work better than commercial cleaners. These are cost-effective too.

The essentials:

  • Vinegar (distilled white vinegar) removes water-based buildup particularly well. It also removes mold and wax, and disinfects and deodorizes surfaces. White vinegar consists of 5 percent acetic acid and 95 percent water. The smell of vinegar lasts only for a short while after cleaning. Lemon juice can also be used instead of vinegar.
  • Citric acid is lesser-known, but cleans exceedingly well and is a cost-effective agent of homemade cleaners. It is a weak acid from citrus fruits and is commonly used for preserving and flavoring food. An advantage over vinegar is that it has no smell. It comes as a form of crystalline powder, and you can buy it readily online such as Amazon. If you don’t have it, you can use vinegar instead, though I think citric acid cleans better.
  • Baking soda (Sodium bicarbonate) deodorizes, whitens, and works as scouring powder. If kept it in a closed container in a dry place, it lasts for several months. You can test if your baking soda is still effective: drop a small amount of vinegar (or lemon juice or a citric acid solution) on a pinch of baking soda. If it is active, you will see foaming as a result of a chemical reaction.

I keep vinegar, citric acid powder, and baking soda readily available, each in its own plastic sauce bottle.

  • Biodegradable cleaner is especially suited for removing grease such as oily tableware and cookware. I use Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds biodegradable liquid cleaner, which gets an A grade on the EWG rating.
  • Castile soap is mainly made from olive oil and/or coconut oil and is safely used for body cleaning. It is milder and more versatile than Sal Suds biodegradable cleaner, but may be less economical for cleaning purposes.

The following are useful cleaning tools that will save your time. While not biodegradable, these are considered non-toxic – and also save water.

  • Melamine sponges make your cleaning life much easier in various ways. The secret of the “magic” is that a melamine sponge works like super-fine sandpaper. Other than Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, you can buy inexpensive alternatives with the same quality at discount stores or online. (Note: an ingredient of melamine sponges called formaldehyde-melamine-sodium bisulfite copolymer is not the same as a toxic chemical formaldehyde.)
  • Microfiber cloths trap dust and wipe dirt without leaving lint on the surface, due to their ultra-fine synthetic fibers.

Note: Before applying any of the cleaning methods below, I recommend testing first at an inconspicuous area.

Everyday Cleaning

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    Cleaning by Ryan Harvey via Flickr

    1. Take Advantage of Melamine Sponges, and Keep All-Purpose Sprays Made of Vinegar, Citric Acid, and/or Biodegradable Soap Handy

    Melamine sponges are surprisingly versatile. With just a little water, it even removes permanent marker and cleans sneakers’ surfaces. While a melamine sponge cleans just about anything, it is not recommended to use for glossy or varnished surfaces in order to avoid scratches. You can cut the sponge with a kitchen knife to small pieces for handy uses. Although it is reusable, it shrinks as you use.

    All-purpose Homemade Cleaners:

    • Vinegar solution
      Mild: 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar + 1 cup water
      Strong: 1 cup distilled white vinegar + 1 cup water
    • Citric acid solution
      Mild: 1 teaspoon citric acid powder + 1 cup water
      Strong: 2 ½ teaspoons citric acid powder + 1 cup water
    • Dishwashing soap
      Mild: ¾ teaspoon Sal Suds + 1 cup water + optional: a few drops tea tree oil
      Strong: 2 teaspoons Sal Suds + 1 cup water + optional: 5-10 drops tea tree oil

    Keep each solution handy in its own labeled spray bottle. Strong solutions do not mean harsh solutions. Personally, I use strong solutions for almost any cleaning. You can adjust the proportion of a solution according to your needs.

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    Above all, a combination of a melamine sponge and a strong citric acid solution works best to remove tough stains on various surfaces quickly and easily.

    Baking soda can also be added in the vinegar solution, though the mixture leaves somewhat dull texture on the surface. Baking soda in this use mainly acts as scouring powder, but a melamine sponge works better for this purpose.

    Citric acid solutions above have stronger acidity than that of vinegar solutions above because an acetic acid in white vinegar is already diluted by water to only 5 percent, whereas acid in citric acid powder is 100 percent. Vinegar or citric acid powder can also be used without adding water for some cleaning.

    Dishwashing soap above is based on Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds biodegradable cleaner, which is concentrated. Please follow appropriate measurement of the particular biodegradable soap.

    Tea tree essential oil is widely used as an antibacterial agent.

    2. Shine Windows and Mirrors with Microfiber Cloths, Melamine Sponges, Vinegar, or Citric Acid

    To wipe off dust on windows or mirrors, use a dry microfiber cloth or dry melamine sponge.

    For heavy cleaning, clean with a slightly moist melamine sponge or microfiber cloth. You can also use an extra-mild solution (1 teaspoon of vinegar and 1 cup of water, or ¼ teaspoon of citric acid and 1 cup of water). Finish with a dry microfiber cloth to remove water residue.

    To remove tough water residue or streaks, fine steel wool works quickly. Although steel wool does not scratch ordinary glasses, it is always safe to test the surface first.

    3. Freshen Your Room with Rubbing Alcohol Spray, or Eliminate Room Odors with Vinegar or Baking Soda

    Rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) spray removes room odors quickly – this certainly works! Optionally, you can add a few drops of essential oils that have a deodorant property, such as lavender, to diffuse a pleasant scent. Vodka spray also seems to work, though I haven’t tried that yet.

    Another way to remove room odors is to leave a bowl filled with vinegar or baking soda in a room.

    Laundry

    3-2609350734_7efc5d958f_o_laundry-room-by-paula-henry_flicker_edit2_770x578
      Laundry Room by Paula Henry via Flickr

      4. Wash Clothes with Biodegradable Cleaner

      A commercial detergent Tide Free & Gentle, which I used for years, is labeled “Free of Dyes & Perfume; Dermatologist Tested.” Nonetheless, I was stunned to find an F grade on the EWG rating. Sal Suds biodegradable cleaner washes clothing well, yet is not harsh on the skin. I use 1-3 tablespoons, depending on the load. Alternatively, washing soda or Castile soap can be used to clean clothes.

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      Optionally, baking soda can be added in the wash cycle to remove odors and whiten clothes.

      5. Rinse Laundry with Vinegar, and Dry Clothes Faster with Wool Dryer Balls

      White vinegar (¼ cup-1 cup, depending on the load) can be added in the rinse cycle. It softens clothing without leaving the vinegar smell. Why does this work? It is an alkali and acid reaction: an acid of vinegar neutralizes the clothes soaked with alkaline soap. The vinegar softener also works well with laundry with a commercial detergent. A word of caution: Do not add vinegar in the wash cycle – doing so will cancel out effectiveness of cleaning ability.

      Dryer balls soften laundry and shorten drying time: they keep clothes from tangling by bouncing around inside the dryer. The more balls (3-6) you use, the faster your clothes will dry. An eco-friendly option would be 100 percent wool dryer balls rather than their plastic or rubber counterparts.

      Bathroom

      4-bath-by-enrico-corno-1220567_freeimages_edit_770x513
        Bath by Enrico Corno via Freeimages

        6. Make Toilet Bowls Sparkle with Vinegar or Citric Acid

        Commercial toilet bowl cleaners are among the harshest with a strong smell and eye-irritating agents. You can clean a toilet bowl in a more pleasant way.

        For regular cleaning, spray vinegar or a strong citric acid solution (2 ½ teaspoon of citric acid and 1 cup of water), and leave it for 15 minutes to 1 hour (the longer, the better). Scrub with a brush, and flush. Alternatively, you can spray dishwashing soap, though I found it is less effective for this cleaning.

        For deep cleaning, spray a strong citric acid solution, and sprinkle ½ cup of citric acid powder inside the toilet bowl including under the rim. The powder kept in a sauce bottle serves nicely for this job. Optionally, you can add ¼-½ cup of baking soda. Leave it for an hour to several hours. Scrub thoroughly with a brush, and flush well. Now you have a shiny toilet bowl!

        When you see black streaks running from under the rim inside the toilet bowl, it may be caused by mold in the toilet tank. To prevent this, periodically add 1 tablespoon of baking soda into the toilet tank.

        7. Cleanse Bathtubs and Sinks with Citric Acid or Biodegradable Soap

        After I tried everything for cleaning a bathtub – from vinegar and baking soda to grapefruit and salt, I chose citric acid as a winner. It cleans thoroughly with ease.

        Spray a citric acid solution (1-2 ½ teaspoons of citric acid and 1 cup of water) inside the bathtub, sprinkle citric acid powder, and leave it for 30 minutes or more. Scrub with a scouring pad or melamine sponge. If needed, spray an additional citric acid solution when scrubbing.

        Dishwashing soap can clean the tub quickly without waiting time, though it is better to leave it for a while so that the dirt comes off more effortlessly.

        To clean a sink, spray a citric acid solution or dishwashing soap. Leave it for 15 minutes and scrub.

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        For stubborn stains, spray vinegar or a strong citric acid solution (2 ½ teaspoon of citric acid and 1 cup of water) over the stain, and lay a paper towel over it. Spray the solution again over the paper towel, and cover the area with plastic wrap to keep from drying. Leave it for several hours before scraping off the stain.

        8. Wipe Away Soap Scum on Glass Shower Doors with Melamine Sponges and Citric Acid

        Without too much effort, you can restore a murky glass shower door to a translucent door!

        Spray a citric acid solution (1-2 ½ teaspoons of citric acid and 1 cup of water) on shower doors, leave it for several minutes, and rub it off with a melamine sponge. Soap scum comes off effortlessly. Wipe away the scum on the surface with a microfiber cloth or a paper towel. You may need to repeat this process a few times until you no longer see white streaks on the door surface.

        9. Destroy Calcium and Lime Deposits on Faucets with Vinegar

        The spout head of a faucet can easily get stains from buildup of hard water minerals. A vinegar pack serves well to remove this. Pour a small amount of vinegar into a fold-top sandwich bag. Wrap it around a faucet’s spout head, soaking the stain in vinegar, and fix it with a rubber band. Leave it for several hours before scraping away the stain.

        To restore the shine on the faucet body and handle, water residue can be wiped away with a dry microfiber cloth or a paper towel moistened with a vinegar or citric acid solution.

        10. Kill Mold and Mildew with Hydrogen Peroxide or Vinegar, and Prevent the Regrowth with Tee Tree Oil

        To get rid of mold and mildew, spray hydrogen peroxide (3 percent), and leave it for 10-20 minutes. Wipe off, and allow the surface to dry completely. Alternatively, vinegar works too. Leave it for one hour before wiping. (Caution: Don’t mix vinegar and hydrogen peroxide as it may produce a harmful acid.)

        To prevent mold and mildew spores from growing, spray a tea tree oil solution (1 teaspoon of tea tree essential oil and 1 cup of water). Do not wipe away, and let it dry.

        11. Unclog Drains with Baking Soda and Vinegar

        To unclog the drain, pour a mixture of ½ cup of baking soda and ½ cup of vinegar into the drain. Leave it for 15 minutes, and pour hot water.

        Kitchen

        5-3186998166_d89571a77a_o_kitchen-by-ryan-boren_flicker_edit_770x511
          Kitchen by Ryan Boren via Flickr

          12. Clean Tableware with Melamine Sponges or Biodegradable Soap

          A melamine sponge with a little water easily cleans tough stains and rust on porcelain, silverware, knives, and plastic with a non-glossy surface.

          To remove grease, use a small amount of dishwashing soap (¾-2 teaspoons of Sal Suds and 1 cup of water, for example). In most cases, hot water with a cellulose sponge or melamine sponge does a sufficient job when cleaning non-greasy, non-smelly tableware by hand, thereby also saving water.

          Cellulose sponges are biodegradable and mostly made from plants such as wood pulp and cotton fiber.

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          13. Let Stainless Steel Cookware Glitter with Vinegar or Citric Acid and Melamine Sponges

          You can restore the shine of cloudy stains inside stainless steel saucepans in 10 minutes.

          Pour or generously spray vinegar or a strong citric acid solution (2 ½ teaspoons of citric acid and 1 cup of water) over the stain, leave it for 5-10 minutes, and gently rub it with a melamine sponge. Don’t scrub too hard as doing so can scratch the surface. Also, don’t use a melamine sponge on a glossy surface of stainless steel.

          14. Remove Heavy Stains on Ovens and Stove Drip Pans with Baking Soda and Vinegar

          To clean brownish buildup stains on stove drip pans, make a paste with baking soda and vinegar, and apply the paste on stains. In order to keep moisture, put each drip pan into a plastic bag separately. Leave it overnight, and scrape off the paste. For inside the oven, cover the area with a plastic wrap after applying the paste.

          15. Get Rid of Fruit Wax with Vinegar

          To remove wax on fruits or vegetables, put them into an extra-mild vinegar solution (1 tablespoon of vinegar and 1 quart of water) for 10-20 minutes. Alternatively, rub non-porous fruit or vegetable with a scouring pad moistened with vinegar. Personally, I also wash them with hot water.

          16. Eliminate Fishy Odor with Lemon Rind or Vinegar

          To remove an odor like a fish smell on the tableware or on your hands, rub them with inside of the leftover lemon rind. Otherwise, soak the tableware in a vinegar solution. Dishwashing soap works as well.

          17. Wipe off Sticker Residue with Melamine Sponges or Orange Essential Oil

          Sometimes you may want to recycle a nice container that has a sticker and date stamp on it. To remove sticker residue, a melamine sponge or a cloth with a few drops of orange essential oil will do wonders. For tough sticker residue on a glass container, fine steel wool works too.

          A melamine sponge also removes a date stamp on a container, though it can scratch and haze plastic or metal surface. Rubbing alcohol also works on a glass container. Having said that, acetone (nail polish remover) works most effortlessly to remove a date stamp on most materials, but use it sparingly as it is toxic with a large amount.

          Living Room

          6-my-living-room-by-samantha-villagran-1233805_freeimages_edit_770x513
            My living room by Samantha Villagran via Freeimages

            18. Restore White Keyboards and Computer Surfaces with Melamine Sponges

            Melamine sponges easily clean finger marks and stains on white keyboards and computers. Years-long stains on my old white MacBook effortlessly wiped out in a few minutes. Gently rub the surface with a slightly moistened melamine sponge.

            19. Polish Wooden Furniture with Olive Oil and Lemon Juice

            You can polish varnished wooden furniture with an equal part of olive oil (or vegetable oil) and lemon juice (or vinegar).

            20. Disinfect Air-Conditioning Filters with Vinegar

            To keep indoor air fresh, it is recommended to clean air-conditioning filters every two weeks. (I know it is just an ideal.) Vinegar disinfects the filters. After vacuuming an air-conditioning filter, soak it in a solution of an equal part of vinegar and lukewarm water for 1-4 hours. A large sink may fit to do this job. Don’t rinse the filter; let it dry naturally.

            The Last Resort

            7-pumice-stone_via-popsugar_crop_770x530
              Pumice Stone via Popsugar

              21. Erase Extremely Tough Stains with Pumice Stone or Sandpaper

              When anything else didn’t work in removing an extremely stubborn stain, scraping it off with pumice stone or fine sandpaper could be a solution for non-glossy or unvarnished surfaces. Good luck!

              Related: 50 Cleaning Hacks for Your Home That Will Make Your Life Easier 

              Featured photo credit: Baking soda vinegar and lemon on the white background by Focal point via shutterstock.com

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              Last Updated on August 20, 2019

              How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

              How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

              Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

              Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality. (And here’s Why Your Perception Is Your Reality.)

              I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

              You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

              Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

              When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

              I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

              Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

              Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

              Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

              1. The Inner Critic

              This is your constant abuser who is often a conglomeration of:

              • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
              • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
              • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
              • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

              The Inner Critic is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

              Why else would this person abuse you? And since this person is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

              2. The Worrier

              This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

              The Worrier is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it. Occasionally, this person is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

              3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

              This is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

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              This person can be set off by words or feelings, and can even be set off by sounds and smells.

              The Reactor has no real motivation and has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

              4. The Sleep Depriver

              This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

              The Sleep Depriver’s motivation can be:

              • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
              • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
              • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
              • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

              How can you control these squatters?

              How to Master Your Mind

              You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

              Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

              There are two ways to control your thoughts:

              • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
              • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

              This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

              The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

              Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier; and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

              For the Inner Critic

              When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

              You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

              For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

              You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

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              “Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

              If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

              • They rile up the Worrier.
              • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
              • They are often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
              • They are a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
              • They are the destroyer of self-esteem. They convince you that you’re not worthy. They’re a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get them out!

              Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

              Replace them with your new best friends who support, encourage, and enhance your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

              For the Worrier

              Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

              Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

              You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

              • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
              • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
              • Muscles tense

              Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

              If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

              Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

              “Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

              Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

              If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

              Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

              Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

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              For example:

              If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

              “I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

              Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

              “Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

              Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

              For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

              Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

              The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

              • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
              • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
              • Muscles tension

              I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

              Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

              Breathe in through your nose:

              • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
              • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
              • Focus on your belly rising.

              Breathe out through your nose:

              • Feel your lungs emptying.
              • Focus on your belly falling.
              • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

              Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

              Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

              One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

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              Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

              For the Sleep Depriver

              (They’re made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

              I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

              Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

              1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
              2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

              When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

              From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

              For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

              If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

              You can also use this technique any time you want to:

              • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
              • Shut down your thinking.
              • Calm your feelings.
              • Simply focus on the present moment. 

              The Bottom Line

              Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

              You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

              Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

              More About Mental Strength

              Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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