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Health and Fitness News

Quiet Your Mind

Thoughts racing? Try these tips to relax your body and mind.

You lie down to sleep, and your mind won’t seem to shut off. Or maybe repetitive, negative thoughts race through your mind all day. Your thoughts may be centered on solving a problem, regretting a past mistake, or something you fear. You’re anxious, your heart is racing, you can’t concentrate, and you feel tense.

When you have days or nights overrun by racing thoughts that won’t stop, here are a few ways to find calm and quiet your mind.

Just Breathe

When your mind is on high alert, focus on breathing. Take deep, regular breaths. This small step tells your mind that all is well. You’re okay. When your mind knows you’re safe, it can tell your body to relax. Focusing on your breathing helps your mind to stop obsessing about a thought. Instead of short, shallow breaths, inhale slowly through your nose for a count of four. Hold your breath for four seconds, and exhale through your mouth for another four count. Your belly, not your chest, should rise and fall when you breathe.

Go for a Walk

Exercise is one of the best ways to relieve stress and distract your thoughts. It doesn’t take much exercise to make a difference, either. Just five minutes can do you good, but aim for at least half an hour of moderate exercise each day to help manage anxiety. Go for a walk, take a jog, lift weights, or do some yoga. The type of exercise doesn’t matter, what’s important is that you find an activity you enjoy.

Challenge Your Thoughts

When intrusive thoughts are stuck in your mind, it’s good to recognize them for what they are. There are different types of negative thoughts. Maybe you’re catastrophizing, jumping to conclusions, or seeing only the negative. Once you label the thought, challenge it. Tell yourself the truth of the situation. Then come up with a neutral thought to repeat in your mind over and over.

Listen to Music

Music is a powerful tool that can influence your thoughts and mood. It’s also a great way to distract your mind. Listen to the melody, think about the words, and sing along if you know it by heart. Soothing music is helpful if you need to calm your mind when trying to fall asleep.

Relax Your Muscles

A tense body often accompanies an anxious mind. You may not notice that your neck, jaw, or back are tense until you begin to feel pain. Headaches and digestive issues can also indicate anxiety. Progressive muscle relaxation is one way to help your body relax, distract your thoughts, and quiet your mind. If you can, lie in a comfortable position. Start with the tips of your toes. Tense the muscles for a few seconds, then relax. Next, tense and relax your feet, then your ankles, and then your calves. Gradually work your way up your body to the top of your head.

Just Do Something

Racing thoughts most often come at night when you’re not doing anything. When you can’t stop obsessing about a negative thought, distraction can be your friend. As you feel anxiety coming on, find something to do. If you’re in bed, read a book, do a crossword puzzle, or listen to an audio book. During the day, get involved in a hobby, call a friend, take a walk, or volunteer at a local charity.