At this time of year, life goes into overdrive for most of us, as we get caught up with buying presents, planning parties, and meeting up with relatives and loved ones. This results in a thousand things going through our minds at any one time, and it can be difficult to focus. So how can you quiet a busy mind that won’t stop thinking and whirring? Try these tips when your mind gets crowded and you feel the stress starting to build and soon it will be second nature.
Try being in the moment, using mindfulness exercises to ground you and slow things down. Focus on your mind and body, your feelings, mental state and emotions rather than external things that you have zero control over. To move your mind away from circumstances that you can’t control, centre yourself and refocus. Close your eyes for a few minutes and focus really hard on all the sounds that are going on around you. Ignore and try to quiet any internal chatter. Open your eyes after a few minutes of this and you should feel as if you’ve cleared your mind, at least temporarily. It works by shutting out the internal noise and making you relax the ‘stressed out’ part of your mind as the logical, physical part takes over and listens to what’s going on around you, taking you out of the relentless to-do lists in your mind. When the internal noise gets too much, try to stop and breathe deeply and slowly. Inhale for a count of five, hold your breath for a count of five then exhale for a count of 5. Repeat this exercise for a few minutes and you will soon feel more relaxed and able to continue with your day.
If you find that even after refocusing your mind it’s still spinning, try a good daydream instead. Take just 20 minutes, go outside for a walk and just let your mind wander. Imagine your dream beach vacation, the décor in your dream house, whatever floats your boat. Fill your busy mind with daydreams to keep out the negative chatter and tap into your creative brain. Positive, intentional daydreaming is a wonderful stress reliever and you never know, you could come up with an amazing idea while you’re wandering!
Take the time to really look around you and appreciate what is in front of you. We spend so much time, especially at this time of year, chasing after the perfect present that will make everything even more perfect, that we don’t take the time to appreciate how much we already have. Make the most of time spent with those around you: friends and family will appreciate time you spend with them far more than gifts you buy. Go for a coffee with an old friend, or for a walk with your children, or just while away a half hour playing cards with a colleague. These are what beautiful memories are made of. Above all, enjoy yourself at Christmas, and try not to get caught up in the present buying frenzy!