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7 Ways You Probably Have Never Tried To Calm Your Mind

7 Ways You Probably Have Never Tried To Calm Your Mind

Let me tell you a secret about how to calm your mind.  Have you ever noticed that once you focus on one of your senses, you begin to feel better?  This is the secret, because our minds stop feeding our anxiety while becoming more aware of what is going on in our bodies. This could be a welcome diversion, such as using our sense of touch, vision and hearing to focus more on these things. This sort of mindfulness comes from the Indian word “Sati” which means paying more attention and being more aware of what is happening in our minds and bodies. It simply means living in the present.

“You are what you think about all day.”

Allen Ginsberg

Time to change tactics. Follow these 7 ways to calm your mind.

1. Stop the vicious cycle of worry and learn to breathe.

Did you know that we breathe incorrectly most of the time? We actually do it 25,920 times a day, so it is about time we learned to do it properly. This shallow breathing can lead to hyperventilation and can exacerbate anxiety conditions and panic attacks.  We are not getting enough oxygen and we are not using our lungs to their full capacity. It also helps to feed the constant chattering in our heads:

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  • What if….
  • Why didn’t I…..
  • If I don’t……..then……
  • If only I hadn’t……..
  • It’s all going pear shaped….

Now, when you start to breathe correctly, you are going to feel beneficial effects in the long term such as less worry and stress, improved posture, easier digestion and better balance.

Try this method. Exhale a long breath. Keep your mouth open and inhale the same amount of breath right down to your stomach. You should be able to feel your stomach swelling up. The release it again, tightening the stomach muscles as you do so.  Your supply of oxygen will help to regulate brain function and reduce your levels of anxiety.

“Health comes from inner peace.”

Dalai Lama

2. Observe 5 objects near you.

These can be anything that you see on your way to work. It could be a cherry tree in blossom, a newly decorated house, white clouds, how the sun glints on a surface, or how the wind blows through the trees. Notice details of color, movement and the interplay between light and shadow. This is a great exercise when you realize, as you arrive at work, you cannot remember any details of your journey. But I bet your stress and anxiety got an overdose from you!

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“Don’t believe everything you think. Thoughts are just that—thoughts.”

Allan Lokos

3. Use your sense of smell.

Have you ever wondered what your apartment or house really smells like? The next time you arrive home, make an effort to smell the air of your home. Try smelling fruit, flowers, trees and food.

As with all the other exercises, when you use your senses to increase mindfulness, the past regrets and the future worries are pushed to the back of your mind. Regular practice of these techniques will pay handsome dividends over time.

Read about how two major London hospitals are strongly advocating their patients to use these tactics. Look at the impressive results.  It improves mental clarity and productivity at work and at school. It is not surprising that Apple and Google both use mindfulness training to help their employees.

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4. Reflect on your mindfulness exercises.

If you are to get any benefit from these exercises, you have to reflect on how you felt while doing them. Did you notice any physical changes? What emotions did you feel? Did you feel better in any way?  Do it in a non-judgemental way because that is the key to experiencing the beauty of the universe.  As you do this over a period of time, you will be able to assess whether you feel less angry, stressed or depressed.

5. Try mindful walking.

When you do mindful walking, you are becoming much more tuned into:

  • The environment, the sounds, sights and smells
  • The air around you, the weather and the changing sky
  • How your body moves
  • Your breathing

Invariably, as you reflect on this new way of walking, you will find that your mind is calmer and you feel more refreshed. There are also some physical benefits in that blood pressure is lowered, joints feel better, and you have more flexibility.

6. Listen to five sounds.

We are surrounded by noise and it is rare that we actually listen to the sounds. Try listening to these :

  • Birds chirping
  • Klaxons
  • People laughing
  • Doors opening and closing
  • Cars passing by

7. Practice more positivity and gratitude.

Often, negativity can take over. Think about what is good in your life, your job and in your relationships. You have a lot to be grateful for.  Make a list of these things and keep it near your bed so that you can reflect on this before you sleep.

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Now, the last question you will ask is, “Does this work?” You will have to try it and experiment. Look at it this way: this is a great way to get in touch with reality. Think of the last vacation you took. You saw new places and you did loads of new things. You were not tired at all and you enjoyed the extra energy boost. You came back from the vacation refreshed and certainly much calmer.

“Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.”

Mother Teresa

Use the mindfulness techniques to get engaged again with the present. Mindfulness apps are now easily available, so you have no excuse!

Featured photo credit: Ripple/Miguel Virkkunen Carvalho via Flickr

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on October 20, 2020

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future. Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

Bonus: Think Like a Rhino

More Tips for Procrastinators to Start Taking Action

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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