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Published on February 28, 2020

How to Relax Your Mind When Stressed (The Simple Guide)

How to Relax Your Mind When Stressed (The Simple Guide)

Do you ever feel stressed and overwhelmed by things going on in your life? Most of us do from time to time. Stress is a normal part of life. It is actually a survival mechanism to protect us from dangerous situations. The problem arises when we don’t know how to relieve it, and the stress persists.

Here we are going to look at why we have chronic stress, and then I’ll show you how to relax your mind with some simple practices. You’ll see for yourself that a peaceful mind is well within your reach, no matter how stressed out you may be.

Benefits of Relaxing Your Mind

The main benefit of relaxing your mind is that it relieves stress. By calming your mind, you’ll feel less overwhelmed by your emotions, which can make you feel like you’re losing control.

By calming your mind, you also avoid many of the health consequences of stress, such as high blood pressure, depression, and fatigue. A peaceful mind will improve your mood by reducing anger and frustration, and also improve your confidence in handling life’s problems.[1]

Overall, you’ll feel better physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Why We Have Trouble Relaxing Our Mind

I often hear people say, “I can’t stop my mind from racing.” They are usually busy people whose lives are filled with commitments and activities. They have demanding jobs and families to take care of. Sometimes, they are young people with goals and ambitions.

There’s nothing wrong with these scenarios. They are normal courses in our lives. The challenge is to find a balance between our commitments to others and our personal needs, and one of those needs is relaxation.

A busy life tends to overstimulate our mind. Basically, anything that touches any of our five senses (sight, sound, taste, touch, smell) will trigger a chain of thoughts. So, all our activities are continuously stimulating our mind. And if we’re really busy, then we can experience sensory overload, which leads to a racing mind and stress.

Reframing Our Views About Relaxation

Another reason we have trouble relaxing our mind is our unconscious views about relaxation. Ask anybody about his views about relaxation, and he’ll probably tell you it is a good thing, and people should take the time to relax regularly. Then, ask him if he actually does that. Chances are he doesn’t.

It’s much like people’s views about exercising. They know it’s good for them, but they have a hard time practicing it. The reason is that our subconscious mind tells us something different. Our subconscious mind tells us things like:

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“I don’t have time to relax.”

“I have more important things to do.”

“I need to be productive.”

“I don’t know how to relax my mind.”

“I’m the type of person who can’t sit still.”

These subconscious beliefs are very strong, and they dictate our actions. So, if we want to change these beliefs, then we need to reprogram our subconscious mind. That may sound difficult, but it’s not. You can easily do it with a technique called writing meditation.

With writing meditation, you simply copy a set of affirmations by hand in a notebook for about five minutes a day. You can do it at any time and any place. You don’t even need a quiet place.

After a few days, you’ll notice a change in your behavior. It will become easier to dedicate time to relaxing your mind. Here is the relaxation writing meditation:

I realize that I deserve to have peace of mind. I know that with a peaceful mind I will be happier, more productive, and make better choices in my life. May I live in a way that doesn’t overstimulate my mind. May I reduce unnecessary background noise around me.

May I take some time everyday to relax and settle down. May I have the strength to follow other relaxation practices to further calm my mind. I commit to relaxing my mind, so that I may realize true happiness and personal fulfillment.

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In order to get the most benefit from this exercise, I suggest doing it once a day for about 3 to 4 weeks, or however long it takes for you to make relaxation a priority in your life.

How to Relax Your Mind

How to relax your mind is pretty simple. The suggestions below will accomplish two things:

  • They will prevent your mind from getting too agitated in the first place.
  • They will allow your mind to settle down naturally.

You are free to choose any of them. Your choice will depend on how agitated your mind is. If it’s highly agitated, then you’ll want to start with some simple suggestions, such as closing your eyes for a few seconds. Then as you begin to relax over time, you may want to try something for deeper relaxation, such as meditation.

Here are some simple practices for how to relax your mind.

1. Listen to Soothing Music

Soft music can go a long way toward relaxing your mind. The slow pace of the music will force your mind to slow down. There is a variety of different relaxation music on YouTube. Find something like a dreamscape with the sounds of nature.

2. Take a Walk

Going for a walk can help us clear our mind from all the clutter. It gets us away from the things that are agitating our mind, and helps us put things into perspective.

3. Make a Gratitude List

We often tend to focus on the things that we don’t have in our lives. This can be depressing, and keep us striving for those things we believe are missing.

Take about five minutes to write down the things you are grateful for. This will help reprogram your subconscious mind, and put you more at ease.

Get some inspirations here: 60 Things To Be Thankful For In Life

4. Find Some Alone Time

It’s important to have some time for yourself. Take some time regularly to get away from everybody, and do something you enjoy, such as reading a good book, or watching your favorite program.

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5. Cuddle with a Loving Pet

Studies have shown that some pets can have a great calming effect. They help take our mind to a place of simplicity and unconditional love.

6. Turn Your Cell Phone Off

Our cell phones are a great source of mental agitation. Is it really necessary to be connected to other people all the time? Turn your cell phone off for a while, if not hours. Most people in our lives can survive without us being on call.

Next are some really simple things you can do at any time, without taking much time from your busy schedule.[2] They are meant to interrupt the acceleration of your mind. They also bring you back to the present moment, which is the essence of mindfulness.

7. Close Your Eyes

Just close your eyes for a few seconds. You can even follow your breath if you want. This will help reduce some of the sensory stimulation.

8. Laugh

I personally enjoy funny social media posts, or reliving funny sitcom scenes. Laughing gives us a short break from serious issues.

9. Smell the Flowers

Flowers are nature’s work of art. They come in all shapes and sizes and scents. Stop once in a while to admire their beauty and fragrance. Don’t neglect the tiny ones. They too have great beauty.

10. Get Some Sunlight

Sunshine can have a tremendous calming effect. Go outside for a few minutes during your break. Sit on a bench, close your eyes, and just enjoy the warmth of the sun.

11. Look out the Window

If you’re not able to go outside, gazing out the window for a couple of minutes can be almost as good. Look at the trees, birds, and any other critters you can spot. And don’t just look at the immediate area, but also look into the distance.

If you are serious about how to relax your mind, the following practices will help you achieve a deeper state of relaxation.

12. Reduce Noise and Activity

If you live a busy life, there is probably a lot of noise and activity around you. Try reducing some of the background noise, such as TV and radio when you’re not fully engaged with them.

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13. Relax Physically

Physical relaxation will help calm your mind. There are various ways to relax physically, such as stretching, practicing tai chi or yoga, or taking a warm bath. You can even listen to a guided meditation with a body scan.[3]

14. Talk to a Friend

We often have things going on in our mind because we’re not able to fully make sense of them. Sometimes, just talking to someone else will help us sort them out.[4]

15. Practice Mindfulness Meditation

This is a powerful and diverse practice that can significantly calm your mind. In addition to doing sitting meditation, you can also do mindful breathing, mindful walking, and guided imagery.

Take a look at the different types of meditation and see which one is suitable for you: 17 Types of Meditation (Techniques and Basics) to Practice Mindfulness

16. Exercise

Physical exercise can help you get your mind off your problems, and calm your thoughts and emotions.[5] It also gives you a greater sense of well-being by increasing your brain’s production of endorphins, the neurotransmitters that make you feel good.[6]

Final Thoughts

As you can see, relaxing your mind is fairly simple. It is mainly a matter of reducing the things that agitate your mind, and taking some time to allow it to settle down naturally.

Just imagine what your life will be like with a peaceful mind. Things will become much clearer, you’ll make better choices, and you’ll feel more in control of your emotions and your life. All this is well within your reach. All you have to do is follow some of the simple practices outlined above.

More Tips to Help You Relax Your Mind

Featured photo credit: Tamara Bellis via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Charles A. Francis

Author, meditation teacher, and director of the Mindfulness Meditation Institute

5 Ways Mindful Breathing Calms Your Nerves How to Live in the Moment and Stop Worrying How to Stop Intrusive Thoughts from Eating You Alive 20 Best Guided Meditations for Sleep and Insomnia How to Cope with the 5 Common Stressors In Life

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

    More Tips on Getting in Shape

    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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