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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 May 22, 2019

10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

There are lots of studies that show if you do some exercise in the morning, you will be in a better mood all day long. You will have more energy and you will certainly be a better colleague, friend or partner.

One psychologist at Duke University has researched the effects of exercise on depressed patients and he has come to the conclusion that exercise has a definite role in treating this condition and has an important role in preventing people from relapsing.[1] According to the New York Times, scientists have now established that exercise also boosts your brain power.[2]

In addition, there are studies from the Appalachian State University which show that blood pressure can be reduced by doing regular morning exercise.[3]

Here are 10 simple morning exercises that will help you feel great the whole day long. You can include some of them in your morning exercise routine or do them all at home without having to enrol in a gym. Consult your doctor before starting any form of exercise routine if you are new to this.

1. Cat Camel Stretch

Stretching exercises are useful for muscle toning and also preventing arthritis. They can either be dynamic or static.

Dynamic ones such as the cat camel stretch, are particularly useful for doing other exercises in the morning. They are also beneficial at other times of the day, especially after long periods of sedentary work. This one is great for spinal flexibility and is a good warm up exercise.

Kneel down on all fours. Start by rounding your back just like a camel so that your head will try to meet your pelvis. This is the camel position. Then lower and lift your head so that your lower back is arched. This is the cat position. Do these movements slowly and smoothly. About 4 or 5 times.

Here’s a video to guide you through:

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2. Go for a Walk or a Run

This is better done outside so that you can connect with nature but running inside on a treadmill is almost as good. You can time yourself and increase length and time according to your fitness program.

Always have new goals to reach. Start with brisk walking and work up to running. At my age, I am still walking!

The health benefits are considerable. You can build stronger bones and you can help to maintain your weight.

Also, you are helping your heart to stay healthy and keeping your blood pressure low.

Learn more about the benefits of running here: 8 Benefits of Running 5 Minutes Every Day You Didn’t Know

3. Jumping Jacks

Michelle Obama is a great fan of this exercise and has become “Jumper in Chief.”[4] They are great for cardiovascular health and also for toning muscles especially the calves and the deltoids.

Stand with feet together. Jump while spreading your arms and legs. Return to first position and keep going! You can start with doing these for 1 minute and then gradually build up to the number you are comfortable with. Here’s how:

4. Abductor Side Lifts

Watch the video below to see how to do this exercise. These muscles are important because you use them everyday to run, get into the car or onto and off a bicycle. They are very important also for your core stability and prevent the pelvis from tilting.[5]

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Do about 10 to 15 raises for each side like this:

5. Balancing Table Pose

This is a classic yoga pose. It benefits the spine, balance, memory and concentration.

Start with the table pose (hands and knees). Breathe in before starting each movement. As you exhale, raise your left leg parallel to the floor as you raise the right arm, also parallel to the floor. Breathe in as you lower arm and leg. Repeat for the other side. 10 repetitions on each side is a good starting point.

ablab

    6. Leg Squats

    Not just legs are involved but also hips and knees.

    Stand with your feet a bit further out from your hips. Arms are out in front of you. Then lower yourself as if you wanted to sit down until you reach a 90 degree angle. You can go down further if you want to. Then return to the starting position. Repeat 15 times for 2 sets for beginners.

    The benefits are that these exercises help with knee stability and can benefit the leg muscles such as quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.[6]

    7. Push Ups

    You start lying down (face down) but with your body held up at arm’s length. Your hands should be in line with your shoulders. Breathe in as you lower your body. That is fairly easy. Now, as you exhale, you have to get back up to the starting position.

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    An easier version to start with is to bend your legs at the knees so you do not have to lift your whole body.

    Beginners may take up to a month to be able to do 100 push ups so you will have to start with a very small number and gradually increase it.

    This exercise is great for strengthening the chest, shoulders and the triceps. It is a great strengthening exercise for many muscle groups. In fact, most muscles from the toes to the shoulders are being used.

    8. Bicycle Crunches

    There are numerous crunch exercises targeting the abs. The bicycle crunch is a variation where you work more muscle groups. Aim for 15 to 20 reps to start off with.

    Watch the video to see how this is done correctly:

    9. Lunges

    Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Place your hand on your hips. Take one giant step forward with the right leg. Make sure the knee does not go too far forward, that is, past your toes. The left knee will go down to almost floor level. Alternate the legs as you go on.

    Try to do a set of between 8 and 12 reps for each leg. It is important to allow for a day of rest, so this exercise should be done on alternate days, especially if you are using weights.

    This exercise is great for strengthening and toning the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings.

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    10. Bicep Curls

    You can do this sitting down so if you spend a lot of time on the phone, this is a great exercise to do.

    Choose suitable dumbbells or another household object that you can easily hold. Sit down with the dumbbell in your hand. You need to sit forward a bit so that your triceps can lean on your thigh to give you support.

    Then bring the weighted arm up to shoulder length and then down again. Exhale as you lift the weight and inhale as you lower it.

    Here’re some important notes before you start doing this exercise:

    Try to do one or two sets of about ten repetitions for each arm and then switch arms.

    These exercises are really useful for toning the arm muscles.[7] In addition, they can strengthen and tone the brachioradialis muscle located in the forearm. These are the muscles we use to pick up things when we flex the arm at the elbow so we use these muscles countless times a day.

    You may have to build in a rest day for the heavier exercises, numbers 6–10. On the rest days, you can do gentler stretching exercises and also some walking or running.

    Morning exercise is not only a great mood booster, but will help you keep your weight down and also sleep better![8] Start including one or some of these exercises in your morning routine!

    More Articles About Exercises for Beginners

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

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