Why is it that we are always hardest on ourselves?

Anxiety: Managing the restless mind

If you're a full time parent, or full time employee taking care of family, friends, children, a spouse....i'm sure you are feeling those burdens now more than ever. The uncertainty about the future as well as the isolation of not being near friends' and loved ones, has led to feelings that can threaten our mental health. 

First I want to say you're not alone. I myself am a very gregarious person, but even if you are not, common sense tells you that human beings aren't meant to live in isolation and with constant uncertainty. 

For me, a lot begins with my mind....and it is very RESTLESS. It is an incredibly powerful organ that can bring us to our ultimate states of being. I have admitted to myself that I am having a hard time and I have been actively researching what I can do to improve my mental state. 

Here are some tips on what i like to call 'Calming the restless mind' 

Keep a journal

Look, I know what you're thinking...who has the time! But it doesn't require a ton of time, 10 or 15 minutes is enough.

What I find this exercise does for me, is help organize the alphabet soup thoughts I have in my brain. For one, the ideas are likely to flow faster in your brain than you can jot them down on paper. The benefit here is that your mind has time to slow down enough to write coherent thoughts. It does not have to be long sentences, nor grammatically correct phrases. The point is that you're forcing your brain to slow down! That in and of itself, is its own reward. 

Exercise

I won't spend a lot of time on this one, because it goes without saying how much exercise reduces anxiety and mental restlessness.

The issue for me is...I simply don't have time! I know you're in the same boat here. But, I don't make excuses for anything in my life and you shouldn't either. The benefits will outweigh the sacrifice, so I set my alarm for 5 a.m just to sneak in 30 minutes a day. Do I hit snooze a few times a week because of sheer exhaustion? Yes, but i make the effort 3/4 times a week and so should you! 

Meditation

If you have never meditated before, this might seem like an unreachable exercise.

The truth is, there are so many Apps that now make meditating as easy as pie. Apps like 'Calm', 'Headspace' have become so popular, large corporations are offering them to employees free of charge! According to a Harvard 2016 study, more than half of working adults say they experience a great deal or some stress at work. In fact, Headspace currently has over 600 corporate customers (and growing). 

Disconnect

Never before in the history of mankind, has so much been made accessible on such a small device.

Our phones are now more important than our wallets when leaving the house. They store invaluable personal information that we depend on daily. At the same time they also provide very gratifying services, whether we are amateur photographers, want to see the latest series on Netflix or want to upload a TikTok video. For this reason, scheduling daily downtime from electronic devices is a must. I never said it was going to be easy, but if you want to make progress in calming the restless mind, it is necessary. Start with a 45 minute window of the day when you know you won't be needing your device. It also goes without saying that you should shut down your phone at least one hour before going to bed. If you really want to calm a restless mind...this is one that will go a long way. 

Stay connected

Sometimes the best way for me to truly calm my busy mind is to live and be present in the moment with family and friends.

Even if I cannot physically be in their presence, calling and 'checking in' always serves to remind me I am connected to people outside of myself. I try to make sure I ask how the person is, and truly listen to 

what is going on on the other end of the dial. Sometimes the best way to get out of our own heads is to get into the mind of someone else. What better way to do that, than with a loved one. 

Breath. Breathhhhhhhhhhhh.

Learning breathing techniques provides all kinds of incredible bodily benefits.

We already know through science that it can help lower blood pressure, help oxygenate the blood stream, reduce stress and anxiety, help focus your mind and reduce mental restlessness (to name a few). My breathing technique is simple and I practice it with my six year old nightly as we wind down for bed. First, we do equal part inhales and exhales working our count up as we go. For example, we close our eyes and take deep breaths in and out through the nose while counting our way up to 6 second inhales, holds and exhales. Repeat with me (starting with three): Inhale, inhale, inhale, hold, hold, hold, exhale, exhale, exhale. Then moving to four: inhale, inhale, inhale, inhale, hold, hold, hold, hold, exhale, exhale, exhale, exhale. Work your way up to repeat eight times, making sure to go as slow as possible on all parts. 

Herbs

I can't be without my wonderful herbs. The two that I find the most calming for a busy mind are chamomile and lavender.

Chamomile has always been a pantry staple ever since I was a little girl. It's calming effects are attributed to an antioxidant called apigenin, a chemical compound that serves as a mild tranquilizer. For this reason, it's been used for centuries as a pre-bedtime antidote to restlessness. I like it best in tea form, with a drop or two of lemon. Lavender is another wonderful herb that has all types of therapeutic properties. I use it in aromatherapy, in an essential oil form as it is rapidly absorbed through the skin. I spread a few drops on the palm of my hands rubbing them together to heat the oil naturally. I dab my hands around my nose as well as behind my ears. Lavender works as an anxiolytic (anxiety reliever) as well as a sedative that induces relaxation and helps calm the nervous system. Both lavender and chamomile can be easily and readily purchased at health food stores.

 

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