In our daily lives, it is easy for things to happen that make us feel bad, that inoculate us with a certain amount of anxiety, or that remind us of stressful experiences that come back to our consciousness again and again.
Faced with this type of experience… how can we clear our minds? In this article we will see some tips that will facilitate this transition from a state of mind that is agitated and marked by anxiety to one in which there is greater calm and, in general, a better disposition to act constructively without focusing attention on what disturbs us.
Tips on how to clear your mind
It is clear that the human mind is one of the most complex phenomena in nature. We are capable of feeling, thinking and imagining a great repertoire of psychological elements , and this has allowed us to survive over thousands of years, even when there were no civilizations.
However, the fact that we are complex living beings with an amazing tendency to be psychologically influenced by our environment does not only present advantages. The price to pay for this ease in “soaking up” what is going on around us makes some of these mental imprints escape our voluntary control.
Trauma is the classic example of this, but there are many other less serious cases. For example, if we have been under a lot of stress for a week or something has happened that has disturbed us , clearing our mind will not be something that will be solved in a matter of a second.
Considering that most mental processes escape immediate voluntary control, calming the mind is not an easy task, nor is it something that can be done immediately, in a few seconds. However, we can do things so that, indirectly, our nervous system comes out of this state of excessive excitement.
In order to do so, we must act both in the way we relate to the environment, and in certain physiological processes that can be influenced indirectly. Let’s see how to do it.
1. If you can, go to the quietest place available
This first step is important, as it allows the “noise” that is already in our head not to be added to the real noise coming from the outside. Being subjected to many stimuli at once is not the best idea when it comes to calming the mind, since makes voluntary control of the attentional focus difficult .
So go to a quiet room or a natural, open space where it’s calm, if possible a wide meadow so you don’t have any visual obstacles nearby that might make you feel threatened (unrealistic, but when we experience anxiety, we can think relatively easily).
2. Understand the cause of your discomfort
This is a first step that allows you to organize your thoughts so that your beliefs and opinions about them form a more or less coherent “whole”. In the face of uncertainty we tend to assume that the most terrible and negative situations will occur, but expressing in a more rational and systematized way what we believe helps to rule out several of those fears, although normally not all of them.
So, this is a first step to locate those beliefs that may be affecting what we feel at that moment, the root of the fact that we need to calm the mind since there is something that makes us feel bad.
To make this step easier, you can write down on a piece of paper what you think you are feeling. A few lines will be enough, but in some cases you will feel like stretching out more spontaneously. If this is the case, take your time and keep in mind that nothing you are writing needs to be adjusted to what is really happening: it is simply a description of how you are feeling at the moment .
Then, assess whether there are aspects of that description that sound clearly unrealistic. One thing that may help you is to imagine that what you read has happened to someone else: would all that is explained make sense to you?
On the other hand, if you think that the reason why you have entered into this state of anxiety is not based on concrete experiences but has to do with something more primary and intuitive (the fact of having seen a video in which there is a lot of violence, the appearance of intrusive thoughts that make you remember an image that you don’t like, etc.) skip this section, since in this case the root of the problem is not easy to verbalize nor does it have to be based mainly on beliefs.
3. Use relaxation exercises
In this step, the target is the physiological processes that contribute to keeping you in a state of alert even though there is no real immediate danger that is lurking. For this, you can use aids such as Jacobson’s Progressive Relaxation or various types of breathing exercises.
Keep in mind that this is one of the ways to clear your mind that requires a minimum of preparation, although having practiced a few times is usually enough to get results.
4. Look for stimulating tasks in which to channel your energy
Unlike the other tips to clear your mind, this one does not focus so much on eliminating that surplus of activation but rather on channeling some of that psychological tension . Playing sports is a good way to do this, as in this type of activity you can easily find a balance between your skill level and the difficulty level of the challenges you set yourself.
By doing this, it is easier for your attention to be fixed on coordinating your muscles according to an immediate objective, so that the recurring thoughts and mental images that came your way lose strength in favor of an activity that claims your five senses in the here and now.
5. Seek help
There are cases in which the discomfort and the feeling of mental agitation are so pronounced that one cannot manage the situation oneself. In this type of situation, it is good to seek the help of other people, whether friends or family, so that together we can resignify what is causing the discomfort.
If this does not help either, it is best to seek psychological therapy provided by mental health professionals . Although in the latter case it obviously takes more than a few minutes to obtain results, it is highly advisable for situations in which the intensity of the phenomenon experienced is high.