5 Proven Ways to Clear Your Mind When Life Gets Stressful
Updated: Oct 17, 2020
You know the feeling when you are trying to fall asleep, but the same thoughts replay in your mind, creating an endless loop.
You can’t shut off those annoying thoughts, and your anxiety level is increasing.
You realize that your repetitive thoughts do nothing to help solve the problem. At the same time, they destroy your inner peace and deprive you of restful sleep.
I used to have sleepless nights when I couldn’t stop my racing thoughts. It usually happened when something stressful was going on in my life. The inability to get proper sleep created even more stress.
Gradually, I’ve learned to calm my racing mind during the day and leave any stress behind before going to bed.
The below five strategies can help you clear your mind and get a break from recurring stressful thoughts. Once you feel less stressed, you might also be able to develop better solutions to your problems.
Bring more mindfulness into your life
Mindfulness is the practice of being fully present, aware of where you are and what you are doing. You become fully absorbed in an activity, rather than in your thoughts about other things.
While mindfulness involves slowing down and focusing on the present moment, it doesn’t require you to stop all your activities.
You don’t need to stay still to be mindful. You can go for a walk, clean a room, take a shower or cook dinner, while staying focused on the present moment, your thoughts and actions.
Mindfulness doesn’t eliminate disturbing thoughts or stress. However, by becoming more aware of your thoughts and emotions, you have more choice of how to handle them.
As I watch my thinking throughout the day and notice negative thoughts, I consciously replace them with more empowering ones.
For example, when I catch myself thinking, “I don’t have enough time to do all the things that need to get done,” I would swap it with “I’m effective with my time and have enough time to complete my most important tasks.”
When I notice a recurring thought that makes me feel anxious, I interrupt this repetitive thinking by merely saying the word “Stop!”
Put your thoughts on the paper
If your mind is overwhelmed with stressful thoughts, you might find it helpful to express your thoughts and emotions through writing.
Writing down your thoughts in a journal gives you mental clarity and reduces stress. When dealing with intense emotions or confusion, journaling can help you better understand your feelings and quicker release them.
By deeper examining your thoughts, you might find different ways of looking at your problems and come up with better solutions.
Additionally, journaling is a great way to practice gratitude. When you are overwhelmed with anxiety, sadness, or anger, it can be hard to see what is going well in your life. Make it a habit to write down several things you appreciate and feel thankful for.
Finally, you can use a journal to write your to-do list. Just writing your tasks down relieves the stress of having to remember everything. Once you write down the items you need to complete, your mind does not need to continue thinking about them, and it gives you more mental clarity.
I enjoy writing my journal in the mornings and when I have a chance in the evenings. My morning journaling mostly focuses on gratitude and plans for the day. During my evening journaling, I reflect on my significant wins and challenges and my future goals and dreams. Journaling also helps me relieve stress and get clarity when something bothers me.
Move your body
When you exercise, the body releases endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin, which improve your mood and lower stress.
Find the type of exercise you enjoy (walking, running, swimming, cycling, playing tennis, or strength training ) and make sure to get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity each day.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to spend hours exercising to experience physical and emotional benefits. Even small amounts of moderate activity throughout the day can go a long way.
When I deal with challenging emotions, running always brings me back to the present moment and makes me feel happier. It creates a feeling of peace and balance. It also reduces stress levels and improves my sleep.
Tidy up your place
Your physical environment affects your physical and mental well-being.
The cluttered environment can create a sense of frustration, burden, and confusion.
A disorganized home also often implies that you would spend more time looking for things.
Living in such a home induces an increased level of stress and makes it more challenging to concentrate.
Everyone has different standards of tidiness. Figure out the level that makes you feel comfortable in your environment.
If your place feels messy and stresses you out, tidying up your surroundings can lessen your mental clutter and make you feel better.
As part of my evening routine during the week, I spend 10–15 minutes on tidying my apartment. I clean dishes and kitchen counters, put clothes away, throw away garbage, and return things to their proper places. It feels nice to wake up to a neat and orderly home.
When I do not feel like cleaning up, I just set a timer for 10 minutes. I permit myself to stop cleaning when the timer goes off, but I usually go beyond 10 minutes.
Get the most out of your sleep
Sleep restores your body and brain. Multiple research studies have shown the negative impact that sleep deprivation can have on your well-being.
While sleep requirements can vary slightly from person to person, most healthy adults need between seven to nine hours of sleep per night to function at their best.
One of the ways to optimize your sleep is to develop a regular sleep routine.
Try to wake up and go to sleep at approximately the same time every day.
Never hit the snooze button in the mornings. Snoozing depletes your willpower and makes you feel stressed as you rush through your mornings.
Additionally, hitting the snooze button creates the feeling that you have no self-discipline, no control over your life, and can’t keep promises you make to yourself.
I also set a bedtime alarm to remind me that bedtime is coming up, and it’s time to begin my evening routine. Depending on your preferences, you can set the alarm between 30 to 60 minutes before you plan to get to bed. This time is for you to unwind and get ready for sleep.
Take control of your mind
Life stress is inevitable.
There always will be challenging situations in your life that could trigger repetitive negative thoughts.
However, these thoughts don’t have to keep you awake at night.
While you can’t quickly force the unwanted thoughts out of your head, you can always use the above strategies and calm your mind before going to sleep.
Becoming more mindful, taking some time to journal, adding physical activity into your daily routine, keeping your place organized, and getting the most out of your sleep can help you take control of your mind and reduce stress.