I remember the days when I felt like my brain just wouldn’t switch off, like it was a machine, whirring away 24/7. My mind was plagued with all sorts of thoughts of what was going on in my life between my career, my kids, home, trying to juggle it all, the challenges I faced each day and how there always seemed to be too much that had to get done, but just never enough time. I constantly felt like I was so stretched and wasn’t doing anything as well as I wanted and on top of this, I felt guilty for not really being able to be present with my kids in the little time I did have with them, because my mind was always elsewhere.
Even as exhausted as I was, I would often lay down to go to sleep at night and it would get worse. Instead of my thoughts slowing down so I could drift off into a nice sleep, it was like my brain was put on fast forward and the world’s problems were suddenly amplified and needed me to solve them, then and there before I could go to sleep.
This went on for the better part of a decade. At the time I blamed my demanding job for keeping me being so busy and stressed and the fact that I had two young children and both my husband and I were working full-time and I traveled a lot for my work. What I didn’t realize at the time was I could have control over my thoughts and ultimately over my own stress levels. I had been letting my thoughts consume and run me, which led to being completely drained from a mental, emotional and physical health perspective.
Now I can look back and see why (isn’t hindsight always 20/20). Research has shown us that we have an enormous number of thoughts each day (somewhere between 6,000 – 60,000 each day depending on which study you read). What is surprising though, is of these thoughts 95% of them are the same as yesterday’s thoughts. Also, 80% of them are negative! So, if we were stressed and in a negative thinking spiral yesterday, chances are we would still be in a similar state of mind today.
Basically, this all leads to our brains being in a stressed, fight or flight state the majority of each day. Which shuts down our ability to access the higher brain and our conscious mind and in turn, prevents us from being open to new ideas & inspirations, access our strategic thinking abilities and see our challenges from a different perspective in order to solve them.
So, when I finally woke up one day (literally) and decided I needed to do something about controlling my own thoughts as I couldn’t continue to live this way, I started implementing some different techniques and tactics to help give my brain a little space throughout the day. The thing that made the biggest difference for me was meditation, but I know that isn’t for everyone, so I wanted to share some other tips that I started implementing throughout my day to help reset my brain, break my thought patterns and ultimately move it back into a more optimal state, where I was back in control and thus reducing my overall stress levels (and of course, if you do want to try meditation, here is a link to my Meditation Made Easy guide).
Get up a little earlier and enjoy some peace and quiet – try to stay off technology for 10 mins as you drink your coffee or tea or water (you could try hot lemon water if you don’t drink coffee or tea) and just ‘be’. You could even do some journaling.
Plan your day – what is your intention, how do you want to show up, interact or act throughout the day.
What are your top 3-5 priorities for the day?
Remember to drink water throughout the day. Our days can get very busy and it's easy to be running from meeting to meeting, so have water close by or get a big jug to keep near you. Staying hydrated is important and helps your energy levels.
If you feel stressed or emotionally react to something throughout your day, use release writing. Just take a few minutes and write everything you are feeling. Don’t re-read, just tear it up and throw it out.
Movement is key – if you don’t do vigorous exercise, try even a short walk. It gets you outside and your body moving and gets some sun on your face. Practice mindfulness when you walk – instead of your brain whirring with everything going on, try paying attention to your surroundings.
Try taking some deep breathes and resetting your intention between activities. This only needs to take 30 seconds but can completely shift your energy.
Do some breathing. Take a few minutes out, close your office door or if you work in an open area, hide in your car or even a bathroom stall and spend a few minutes doing some deep breathing – breathe in for 4, hold for 4, breath out for 4, hold for 4 and repeat 10 times or for 1-2 minutes.
Compliment someone – their reaction will make you feel really good and flood your body with happy hormones.
Practice gratitude – before you go to sleep at night think about 3-5 things you are grateful for – can be anything from the love and support you have in your life to seeing a beautiful flower or sunset that day.
I encourage you to pick just a few of these and commit to implementing them each day to start gaining control back over your thought patterns. Initially it might not sound like it will have a big impact, but if you do these consistently over a few days, you will see what a difference they can make. Not only will your stress levels decrease in the moment, but over time, you will feel the reduction of stress throughout your day.
I would love to hear which ones you implement and what changes for you or if you've already been doing any of these and have experienced a shift.
If you would like to discuss how coaching can help you achieve the outcomes you desire book a free 30-minute introductory call here.