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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.

Work Smarter, Not Harder: 12 Ways to Work Smart 10 Reasons Why People Are Unmotivated (And How to Be Motivated) 12 Secrets To a Super Productive Meeting You Should Know What Your Fear of Being Alone Is Really About and How to Get over It 10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

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Last Updated on November 19, 2019

20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

Are you usually punctual or late? Do you finish things within the time you stipulate? Do you hand in your reports/work on time? Are you able to accomplish what you want to do before deadlines? Are you a good time manager?

If your answer is “no” to any of the questions above, that means you’re not managing your time as well as you want. Here are 20 time management tips to help you manage time better:

1. Create a Daily Plan

Plan your day before it unfolds. Do it in the morning or even better, the night before you sleep. The plan gives you a good overview of how the day will pan out. That way, you don’t get caught off guard. Your job for the day is to stick to the plan as best as possible.

2. Peg a Time Limit to Each Task

Be clear that you need to finish X task by 10am, Y task by 3pm, and Z item by 5:30pm. This prevents your work from dragging on and eating into time reserved for other activities.

3. Use a Calendar

Having a calendar is the most fundamental step to managing your daily activities. If you use outlook or lotus notes, calendar come as part of your mailing software.

I use it. It’s even better if you can sync your calendar to your mobile phone and other hardwares you use – that way, you can access your schedule no matter where you are. Here’re the 10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track .

Find out more tips about how to use calendar for better time management here: How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space

4. Use an Organizer

An organizer helps you to be on top of everything in your life. It’s your central tool to organize information, to-do lists, projects, and other miscellaneous items.

These Top 15 Time Management Apps and Tools can help you organize better, pick one that fits your needs.

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5. Know Your Deadlines

When do you need to finish your tasks? Mark the deadlines out clearly in your calendar and organizer so you know when you need to finish them.

But make sure you don’t make these 10 Common Mistakes When Setting Deadlines.

6. Learn to Say “No”

Don’t take on more than you can handle. For the distractions that come in when you’re doing other things, give a firm no. Or defer it to a later period.

Leo Babauta, the founder of Zen Habits has some great insights on how to say no: The Gentle Art of Saying No

7. Target to Be Early

When you target to be on time, you’ll either be on time or late. Most of the times you’ll be late. However, if you target to be early, you’ll most likely be on time.

For appointments, strive to be early. For your deadlines, submit them earlier than required.

Learn from these tips about how to prepare yourself to be early, instead of just in time.

8. Time Box Your Activities

This means restricting your work to X amount of time. Why time boxing is good for you? Here’re 10 reasons why you should start time-boxing.

You can also read more about how to do time boxing here: #5 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity.

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9. Have a Clock Visibly Placed Before You

Sometimes we are so engrossed in our work that we lose track of time. Having a huge clock in front of you will keep you aware of the time at the moment.

10. Set Reminders 15 Minutes Before

Most calendars have a reminder function. If you have an important meeting to attend, set that alarm 15 minutes before.

You can learn more about how reminders help you remember everything in this article: The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

11. Focus

Are you multi-tasking so much that you’re just not getting anything done? If so, focus on just one key task at one time. Multitasking is bad for you.

Close off all the applications you aren’t using. Close off the tabs in your browser that are taking away your attention. Focus solely on what you’re doing. You’ll be more efficient that way.

Lifehack’s CEO has written a definitive guide on how to focus, learn the tips: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

12. Block out Distractions

What’s distracting you in your work? Instant messages? Phone ringing? Text messages popping in?

I hardly ever use chat nowadays. The only times when I log on is when I’m not intending to do any work. Otherwise it gets very distracting.

When I’m doing important work, I also switch off my phone. Calls during this time are recorded and I contact them afterward if it’s something important. This helps me concentrate better.

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Find more tips on how to minimize distractions to achieve more in How to Minimize Distraction to Get Things Done

13. Track Your Time Spent

When you start to track your time, you’re more aware of how you spend your time. For example, you can set a simple countdown timer to make sure that you finish a task within a period of time, say 30 minutes or 1 hour. The time pressure can push you to stay focused and work more efficiently.

You can find more time tracking apps here and pick one that works for you.

14. Don’t Fuss About Unimportant Details

You’re never get everything done in exactly the way you want. Trying to do so is being ineffective.

Trying to be perfect does you more harm than good, learn here about how perfectionism kills your productivity and how to ditch the perfectionism mindset.

15. Prioritize

Since you can’t do everything, learn to prioritize the important and let go of the rest.

Apply the 80/20 principle which is a key principle in prioritization. You can also take up this technique to prioritize everything on your plate: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

16. Delegate

If there are things that can be better done by others or things that are not so important, consider delegating. This takes a load off and you can focus on the important tasks.

When you delegate some of your work, you free up your time and achieve more. Learn about how to effectively delegate works in this guide: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

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17. Batch Similar Tasks Together

For related work, batch them together.

For example, my work can be categorized into these core groups:

  1. writing (articles, my upcoming book)
  2. coaching
  3. workshop development
  4. business development
  5. administrative

I batch all the related tasks together so there’s synergy. If I need to make calls, I allocate a time slot to make all my calls. It really streamlines the process.

18. Eliminate Your Time Wasters

What takes your time away your work? Facebook? Twitter? Email checking? Stop checking them so often.

One thing you can do is make it hard to check them – remove them from your browser quick links / bookmarks and stuff them in a hard to access bookmarks folder. Replace your browser bookmarks with important work-related sites.

While you’ll still checking FB/Twitter no doubt, you’ll find it’s a lower frequency than before.

19. Cut off When You Need To

The number one reason why things overrun is because you don’t cut off when you have to.

Don’t be afraid to intercept in meetings or draw a line to cut-off. Otherwise, there’s never going to be an end and you’ll just eat into the time for later.

20. Leave Buffer Time In-Between

Don’t pack everything closely together. Leave a 5-10 minute buffer time in between each tasks. This helps you wrap up the previous task and start off on the next one.

More Time Management Techniques

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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