Have you ever felt frustrated with the amount of thoughts that your mind is throwing at you, especially when you’re already feeling stressed or overwhelmed? It’s like an unruly roommate that you can’t get rid of. The noise never seems to stop.
This can be distracting at best. At worst, it can undermine your confidence and optimism.
While it isn’t possible to stop your mental chatter completely, there is plenty that you can do to tame it.
Keep these techniques in mind when you need an escape from your mental chatter:
1. Try using 5-4-3-2-1. When the noise in your head won’t seem to stop, try 5-4-3-2-1. This little exercise will get you out of your head and focused on your environment.
● Look around your environment and describe five things you see. For example: “I see a pair of shoes. They are made of brown leather, have a low heel, and rubber soles. They look old.” It’s easy to find five things you see, but the remainder of the exercise is a little more challenging.
● Describe four things you hear. “In the distance, I can hear car horns honking.” Really focus your attention on the noises you can hear and fully experience them.
● Describe three things you feel. It could be the cool breeze blowing over your skin, the firm chair underneath you, or the pain in your elbow.
● Describe two things you smell. You might have to really concentrate to come up with two.
● Tell yourself one thing you like about yourself. By the time you’ve finished all five parts of this exercise, your focus will be in the present instead of on the noise in your head.
2. Avoid engaging with your mental chatter. Your brain is going to make noise. There’s no way to stop it completely. The key is to ignore it. View the chatter in your head as nonsense and let it go.
3. Learn to meditate. Meditation creates a lot of opportunities for dealing with mental noise, because there’s nothing to distract you from it. Learn how to meditate and spend some time each day meditating to calm your mind.
4. Write it out. Set aside time each day to write down the things you’re randomly thinking. It’s very cathartic and really works if you give it a chance. After 10-20 minutes, take the paper you’ve been writing on and destroy it.
5. Use affirmations. Affirmations can improve your life. They also crowd out the noise. When the noise starts, use an affirmation to keep your mind occupied on thoughts that you want.
● Have a list of affirmations ready to go. Pick one and use it when necessary.
6. Use a mantra. Using a mantra is the same idea as using an affirmation. Your mantra could just be a meaningless sound or something more significant. Drown out the noise!
7. Focus on your breathing. Put your attention on your breathing. This is convenient, because it’s always available to you.
8. Listen to music. Playing music in the background while you work can help to keep in the internal voices at bay. Be careful that you don’t listen to something so distracting that you can’t concentrate on whatever it is that you’re doing. This might take some experimentation and practice.
Your brain creates thoughts. That’s what it’s designed to do. But there are solutions you can employ to reduce the noise. Attempting to eliminate your internal voice is a waste of time, but you can greatly reduce the noise and avoid engaging with it.
Just because your permanent roommate decides to speak doesn’t mean you have to listen! Practice these methods to reduce or prevent an overabundance of thoughts that you don’t want.