Our minds are constantly at work each day. As studies suggest, around 12-60 thousand thoughts are running through our heads per day, and 80% of these thoughts are negative while 95% are random and repetitive.
Much of our everyday thoughts are worries, preoccupations, or irrational thoughts that affect our day-to-day affairs. When these thoughts become incessant, they can disrupt our focus and inner peace as well as wreak havoc on our health or overall wellbeing.
The Persian poet Rumi has one thing to say about the “noisy mind”: “The quieter you become, the more you can hear.”
I believe this quote urges us to hush the “voices” in our minds, which pertain mostly to negative thoughts. When the constant chatter in our head intensifies, it can contribute to feelings of stress, anxiety, or depression and ultimately, affect the way we perceive and do things. But when these thoughts are silenced or eliminated, we become quiet in the truest sense and become more in tune with our inner self or intuition.
As for me, I make it a point to have a few moments to quiet my mind during the chaos. With my daily hectic schedule consisting of client appointments, business meetings, and tons of paperwork to accomplish, it is necessary to put my thoughts into perspective so as not to get easily overwhelmed by the demands of my job. I find the following easy-to-do relaxation techniques quite helpful in calming my mind, increasing my focus and productivity at work, and in combatting stress in general.
- Focus on breathing
The easiest way to clear our minds of negative thoughts is to get in touch with our breathing. One of the most calming breathing exercises that I often do is diaphragmatic or belly breathing, which involves slow, deep breaths that engage the stomach, abdominal muscles, and diaphragm. This breathing technique helps me relax my nerves, ease stress and anxiety, and improve my attention span, among others. We can incorporate breathing exercises into our heavy schedule because they are easy to do and take only a few minutes of our time each day.
- Go outdoors
Sitting all day at work can increase the risk of certain health issues and affect our mental health. That’s why we need to take a breather from time to time to avoid such risks. To do so, we can take a few minutes off and stroll around the neighborhood or outside our work area to help release our minds and lighten our mood. As for me, spending time with nature helps me think more clearly and makes me feel more invigorated.
- Tense muscles…and release
Also known as progressive muscle relaxation, this technique involves relaxing our tensed muscles by first increasing the tension on the affected areas, such as our arms, shoulders, legs, and feet, holding it for a few seconds, and slowly releasing the tension. Like breathing exercises, I incorporate this into my daily routine to relieve the stiffness on my shoulders and arms, and it does work wonders with my mind as well! We can repeat the process a few times a day for optimal results.
- Listen to music
Music is quite therapeutic as it soothes the activity in our brain. Listening to our favorite music helps refocus our thoughts so, in a way, it can be a good distraction. I find listening to binaural beats and classical music effective in diminishing unwanted thoughts and enhancing my focus at work.
- Take a power nap
Science has proved the overwhelming benefits of a power nap. Research has shown that a power nap can reduce stress, and improve cognitive functioning and make us more patient, alert, and efficient at work. I often squeeze in a 20-minute power nap each day to help me be mentally alert and creative throughout the day.
Meditation can be of any type. It can be in the form of a mantra or prayer, self-affirmations, breathing methods, visualization, or other practices that relax our body and help reduces stress. I particularly practice mindfulness meditation before I start my day. This is done by simply focusing on my thoughts, letting them pass through my head without judgment, question or interpretation and just living in the moment. Mindfulness enables me to gain control over my thoughts and improve my mental health.
Certainly, it can be quite challenging to silence our thoughts, especially when there are plenty of stimuli around that keep distracting us. But when we give ourselves a “mental reboot” once in a while, we give our mind the rest it needs. As a result, we can become more productive, more focused, alert, and ready to face the challenges of the day.