How to calm your mind (without meditation)
by Tom Law on Thursday 08 June 2023
4 min read
Does your mind ever race so fast your thoughts feel like the Formula 1? We’ve all been there.
Meditation is a great go-to to calm your mind, but it can be a skill that can seem intimidating at first and can take time to become comfortable with. Thankfully, there are easier ways to achieve instant R&R. The requirements? Your body and mind. That’s all.
Take a breather
This one doesn’t need an introduction, you’re (hopefully) breathing right now.
When our mind is in overdrive, our breaths can become quick and shallow. You might even be holding your breath (without realising it) to concentrate, or because you’re stressed. Taking slow, deep breaths can signal to your body that you're safe and relaxed.
You could give the 4–7–8 technique a go. Just inhale for four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds and exhale for eight seconds. Run through this a few times to easily calm your mind. Or want to keep it simple? Inhale for 4 seconds, hold (for as long as you can), and exhale for 8 seconds.
We know what you're thinking... isn't this just meditation? No, it's not. This is a short and effective way to calm your nervous system by focusing on slowing your breath down.
TIP: to enhance your breathwork, you can also add these effective tools in. Firstly, place your hand on your tummy and watch your stomach as it rises and falls to your breath. Or, take notice of the feeling of the air entering and exisiting your mouth, nose, and lungs.
Tapping, known as the Effective Freedom Technique (EFT), is another way to reduce stress. It involves tapping on specific points on the body (called meridian points) while focusing on whatever’s troubling you. This could also be great for physical pain – bonus!
To keep it simple, you can start by tapping between your eyebrows, under and the side of your eyes, chin, and collar bone. While tapping the meridian points, voice some positive affirmations to help you calm down and rebalance your energy.
Feel your senses
When we're feeling overwhelmed, usually our minds are caught up in not only the future, but also the past. Focusing on the present is a solid way to soothe mental chatter. To zap into the moment, try focusing on your senses.
Take some time to activate your main senses: sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch. Take a moment to stop and have a break. Become aware. What is around you? If you are outside, you might feel the warmth of the sun on your skin, or hear the birds chirping.
This technique is a great way to instantly ground you, remind you to be present, and all just from a short pause.
Sweat it out
Even just a few minutes of dancing can dial down the stress and improve your mood. A 2019 study found that dancing interventions are effective in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety – so throw on your favourite playlist and get jiggy with it!
Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) is a technique that involves tensing and then relaxing specific muscle groups in the body. You only need 10 minutes of PMR to feel the benefits of tension release and a trip to Zen-nation.
The science backs it up. A 2021 study found that PMR can reduce stress and help with depression and anxiety.
Here’s how to get started:
- Sit or lie down in a comfortable position.
- Tense the muscles in your feet, hold for a few seconds, then release.
- Pay attention to the relaxing sensation as you release the muscles.
- Move up to your calves, thighs, stomach, arms and so on.
Overall, if you don’t fancy meditating, there are plenty of ways to effortlessly calm your racing mind. Better yet, you could keep on top of it with brisk workouts in your routine. Want to hit the ground running? Score some endorphins with our fitness group classes or reach you fitness goals with a Personal Trainer.
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