The world is a messy place. Everything moves fast and the constant input can be overwhelming and make you feel powerless. Financial, physical, emotional, professional, and relationship issues or tasks to be done can drive your stress to dangerous points – previously unseen at any other point in human history. If you have a history of abuse, addiction, post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), or other emotional pain – stress from daily life can be compounded.
Centering your mind, gaining control over your own thoughts and feelings, can help you navigate the demands on your time and energy, never-ending technology, and the expectations required of you as an individual from all corners.
Depression and anxiety are at an all-time high and the only ones benefiting from this horrible state of emotional upheaval is the medical industry and pharmaceutical companies. You need a safe and healthy way to detach from your negative feelings so you can think clearly and develop a proactive plan to stop and gain control over the specific pain in your life.
Clear Your Head
Grounding techniques, also referred to as “centering,” are a simple approach to a complex problem. By creating a forced “separation” between your pain and the present moment, you give your mind the ability to rest by anchoring you in a safe reality.
Instead of being a slave to your past, memories, or pain – or taking a prescription to numb you against them – centering your mind helps train it to enforce distance between you and your negative emotions, to isolate them, and put them in perspective.
Unlike journaling, talk therapy, or searching out the source of what has hurt you, this method provides an immediate way to calm your mind, isolate the negativity, and continue to function.
Center Your Mind in 7 Simple Steps
- Note your location. Describe where you are (inside or outside) in precise detail. Mentally chronicle the color of the carpet or tile, the furniture in the room, what flora or fauna you see, the temperature, scents, sounds, interesting shapes, and even people nearby. This method forces you to notice aspects of the immediate real world around you in ways we tend to overlook in the hustle and bustle.
- Quiz your brain on random trivia. This is an excellent way to distract your mind from anxiety. Your brain has the ability to retain more information than you realize. This is particularly true of past pain. When you quiz yourself, it diverts attention from thoughts “on loop” that make you stressed, sad, angry, etcetera. How many different kinds of birds can you name? How many teams can you list from your favorite sport? How many countries, states, or capital cities can you list? Not only is trivia effective as a mind centering technique, it helps to keep the mind sharp.
- Use your imagination – even if you’re not creative. Allow yourself to “zone out” painting, writing, or knitting. If you’re not an artist type, create a collage of things you love clipped from magazines for a visual board. Read a well-loved book series from start to finish. Cooking or baking takes creativity and concentration (another way to divert attention from pain) and the side effect is delicious! Considering following a recipe you’ve always wanted to try.
- Be selfish with “you” time. Taking time to pamper yourself is crucial to anchoring your self-worth. Spend an extra ten minutes in the shower, save to get something you’ve wanted for a long time, take the time to moisturize your skin, or simply brush your hair for one hundred strokes. Never underestimate the power of a walk. It doesn’t have to be fast or far, it can be a calm stroll around the block. Consider yoga or tai chi to increase flexibility, strengthen your core, and further center your mind. You are worth the time and effort.
- Step into an alternate reality. Distraction from anxiety can take many forms. One you might enjoy is creating (or re-creating) how you think your life is going to play out using personal goals as the “script” for each scene. Visualize where you want to go, how you plan to get there, and make a list of simple steps to build toward your new reality. Reading a book, watching a movie, tuning in to a show that makes you laugh, or having a “singalong” in your living room to music you love are also excellent methods of distraction from immediate stress.
- Positive thinking isn’t as silly as it sounds. It’s a proven method to lower stress and raise positive feelings of gratitude and personal satisfaction. Think about each person in your life that you love, about things you love to do, about the lyrics to your favorite song, your favorite color, or how a project you’re working on is coming together. Have a go-to list of the five things you’re most grateful for – that make you happy.
Keep an album of photos containing happy moments captured on film of you and the people you care about smiling and loving life. Call a friend who always makes you laugh or write someone you haven’t talked to in a while an email – and focus on the positive in your daily life. Wear a favorite piece of jewelry or carry a small object that takes you to a happy moment in your life. As a way to center your mind, these methods are some of the best and most immediate.
- Get your repetitive housekeeping done. Nothing grounds you in the moment like chores! Cleaning, organizing, and sorting items for donation helps you to stay focused on a mindless task, taking you out of the moment, and leaving your home ship-shape behind you. Do some work in your yard and soak up some sunshine. Put some music on while you work that you inspires you to randomly sing and dance.
Centering your mind has immediate mental and emotional benefits. However, long-term, learning what grounding techniques work for you lowers your overall stress levels. This is excellent for your physical health!
Chronic stress brings with it inflammation – the root cause of many diseases and something that worsens existing conditions. If you can lower the stress, you lower the inflammation…and that’s going to go a long way to helping you look and feel better well into the future.
The techniques that work best for you may take some trial and error. Even when you find the right combination of thoughts and actions, it still takes practice for them to help you anytime, anywhere, without anyone being aware that you’re doing them.
Don’t give up. Center your mind, center your life, and improve your mental, emotional, and physical health.