It often starts as soon as I begin to unwind for the day. It starts with one thought about lunch the next day, then there’s a thought about my best friends wellbeing. Before I know it I’m thinking 5 years into the future, while simultaneously considering how I could’ve handled high school better. The thoughts about nothing and everything come at a continuous unrelenting pace. I’m naturally an over thinker, so constant mental chatter is normal for me. However sometimes (most of the time) I want a moment of peace, and have developed some coping strategies.
Move your body
Go to the gym, go on a walk, or dance alone in the living room (music is optional). Just move your body. My personal favorites are running and weightlifting. Moving around doesn’t always stop the constant chatter, but it can redirect the thoughts into a more productive direction.
Write it down
Grab some scrap paper, notebook, or journal, and just start writing. Don’t worry about punctuation, spelling, or proper sentence structures. Just write every thought down. Recording your thoughts, removes them from your head and gives them a physical resting place. After writing everything down, you can come back to it later or just rip the paper up and throw it away. Writing can help you see the recurring themes, and can make it a little easier to find the root cause of all the excess noise.
If things get really bad and the above steps don’t provide relief, I turn to art. Any type of arts or crafts will work. We aren’t trying to create masterpieces or refrigerator art. We are just trying to make something, anything really. The first fifteen minutes to an hour can seem pointless, but once you reach the state of “flow” it will be so worth it. The once never ending stream of thoughts will slow way down, stop all together, or guide your thoughts into a more productive direction.
When none of the above steps give my mind a break, I pray. Prayer (for me at least) helps relieve the exhaustion from continuous thoughts by laying them at the feet of God. Sleep is more restful and comes a little easier, when I’m not fighting my mind. My prayer style isn’t fancy and doesn’t require tools or a special location. Sometimes I’ll write my prayers down while on a 15 minute break at work. Other days I’ll pray in the car, or while I’m walking to the mail box.
I’m always looking for new strategies to manage this quirk.
How do you find relief when you have a restless mind?