How to slow the chattering mind

One question I often get asked and it came up again at a workshop last weekend is: ‘how to stop the constant busyness and chatter of the mind’.

Busy minds create stress in the mind, body and our breathing system and adversely affect everything from sleep to concentration, productivity and connection (with both ourselves and others). A busy mind can stop you from experiencing the joys of life that are felt in the heart and connecting with what is deep inside you.

When your mind is preoccupied with too much chatter, energy gets localised in your head and away from the rest of the body. In extreme, some will develop headaches and others will just feel there is no space for ideas or simply experiencing the moment. If the mind is busy focused on the negative, stress is even more pronounced and your nervous system operates in ‘fight flight’ mode. Decision making is compromised when the mind feels ‘full’ and doubt and indecision prevail.

Being able to slow and direct the mind is an important skill and fundamental to good health, happiness and productivity. Just as your body needs care including the right food and exercise to make it strong, balanced and flexible, so too does your mind. The mind needs rest, nourishment (including new ideas, reading good books and learning) and resourceful thinking.

Here are eleven ideas to help you slow down your mind:

  1. Convert your thoughts to positive. Negative thoughts are like wild horses – almost impossible to direct.
  2. Slow your breathing down and your mind will automatically slow down. Breath slowly and into your stomach. Practicing this regularly will bring your nervous system into ‘rest and repair or rest and digest’ mode and away from ‘flight flight’. This will make it much easier to slow down your mind and help you feel calmer.
  3. Practice focused breathing regularly – 10 breaths a few times a day.
  4. STOP over-thinking and over-analysing.
  5. Exercise regularly (150 minutes per week is recommended by WHO). Practice meditation daily. It is a fantastic workout for your mind.
  6. Laugh and connect with people often.
  7. Keep well hydrated and eat nourishing wholesome food.
  8. Develop a growth mindset, focusing on learning and results.
  9. Be present and look ahead. The past is for learning from. It is not a stick to beat yourself with.
  10. Reflect from time to time – ask yourself how you feel about things rather than what you think.
  11. The highest form of thinking is our intuition and our intuition works best when the mind is not focused on the problem or analysing but simply present, mindful and focused on what we are doing (or resting/meditating).

The growth equation is Stress + Rest = Growth. Stress + No Rest = Burnout. Rest is key. If your mind is busy, find ways of slowing it down. It will greatly enhance your experience and quality of life.