Do you know that the average person has about 70,000 thoughts within their mind, per day, and with that high number, you can still improve your mood?
That’s 3,000 per hour or 50 per minute–which is no small number! Our brains are thinking constantly.
A lot of the time, our mind races beneath the surface and we’re not even aware of our subconscious thoughts. Other times, you’re unable to keep up with each thought that pops into your head, leaving you to feel stressed, overwhelmed, and ready to crack.
Here are some strategies for those times when your chaotic mind needs to quiet down.
Even if you’re not feeling stressed out, you might be surprised by how these techniques can improve your overall mood.
Meditation, specificcally mindfulness, calms a monkey mind better than anything else. With enough practice, meditation can leave a huge impact on the brain. It increases the gray matter in the prefrontal cortex and anterior cingulate, as well as the cortical thickness in the hippocampus.
Why does this matter? By rewiring your brain through meditation, you can change its activity. You reduce negative thinking patterns, boost concentration skills, increase functioning, improve your mood, and calm your mind.
When you start feeling overwhelmed and disgruntled, learn the art of mindfulness meditation. It’s easy to pick up, you can do it anywhere at any time, and it’s completely free!
2. Get More Sleep
We’ve discussed the importance of sleep at length since it’s the single most effective thing a person can do to reset the brain and body.
You’re probably aware of how closely connected sleep is to mood; most people get grumpy, irritable, and stressed when they’re tired and sleep deprived. But did you know that sleep deprivation disrupts levels of hormones including serotonin, dopamine, and cortisol that can affect thought in addition to mood?
Good sleep helps us think clearly, remember information, and make decisions. If the quality orquantity of your sleep is compromised, pick up some melatonin that can help you achieve better rest and improved cognitive functioning.
3. Exercise Regularly
Another way you can find more sleep is to shift your body clock forward with exercise. A good sweat allows you to blow off some steam and makes for a great therapy session. It relieves stress, improves memory, and boosts your overall mood with a flood of endorphins.
Sign up for a gym membership and make a commitment to exercise regularly; your body and mind will thank you!
4. Improve Your Diet
It’s true, you really are what you eat! Put simply, what you eat directly affects the structure and function of your brain and ultimately your mood.
Research shows a correlation between a high-sugar diet and impaired brain functioning as well as a worsening of symptoms of mood disorders (such as depression), whereas a healthy diet can ease symptoms of depression.
5. Expand Your Mind
This is a wordy term with unfortunate connotations, but it essentially means to let go of your self-focus and get more in touch with your place in the universe. No, you don’t need to take psychedelic drugs to expand your mind; therapy or trained meditation can normally do the trick.
If you are willing to experiment, there are plenty of safe options. Medical and recreational marijuana is legal in many states and can be an effective treatment for stress and anxiety. The psychoactive properties of cannabis winds the mind down while expanding your senses, reason, and imagination.
Head to a legal state near you to try cannabis in San Diego, CBD in Colorado, or edibles from Washington.
6. Dig Your Hands in the Earth
Gardening is a great activity to clear your mind and boost your well-being. Vitamin D from the sun has a direct correlation to happiness and strengthening your connection to nature is as good for the mind as it is for the soul. It can even be a wonderful family activity if your children are interested in nature, too.
7. Read a Book
When your world feels a little crazy, check yourself out and plug yourself into another fictional reality by reading a book. It’ll distract your thoughts, calm your mind, and teach you a thing or two about life.
8. Learn a Craft
From woodworking to painting with watercolors, learning an art or craft is a fantastic way to let go of stress. You can pour yourself into an activity, giving your mind a mental break and finishing with a tangible result you’ll feel proud of.
On top of that, learning a new skill increases your brain’s gray matter which, if lost, can lead to memory impairment and emotional problems.
Finally, consider investing in essential oils in order to soothe your senses with aromatherapy. Oils have been proven effective as an alternative medicine for centuries, many of which benefit treat anxiety, stress, and insomnia.
Don’t let the chatter in your mind control your mood; use these strategies to quiet your brain and improve your overall well-being.
Identity Magazine is all about guiding women to discover their powers of Self-Acceptance, Appreciation, and Personal Achievement. We ask that every contributor and expert answer the Identity questions in keeping with our theme.
Their answers can be random and in the moment or they can be aligned with the current article they have written. In that way, and as a team, we hope to encourage and motivate each other, thus inspiring you to Get All A’s.
1. What have you accepted within your life, physically and/or mentally? Additionally, what are you still working on accepting? Now, we’re talking about resignation, rather stepping into, embraced, and owned.
I have accepted that it is impossible to please everyone. I struggled for years to fit in with what I thought were the “cool kids,” but in the end I was unhappy because I felt I could never be my true self.
Today, I now
2. What have you learned to appreciate about yourself and/or within your life, physically and mentally? On the other hand OR in contrast, are there elements of who you are that you’re still working on appreciating?
I have learned to appreciate my family more, flaws and all. When I was young, my parents had a very busy life, and struggled to just make ends meet in our family. As a result, I became resentful that they never spent enough time with my siblings and I.
Now I appreciate them more, because they worked so hard for our family, and I am grateful now that I can have a stronger relationship with them as an adult and have a truly fulfilling relationship with them.
3. What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? Tell us not only what makes YOU most proud but also share the goals and dreams that you still have.
The most rewarding thing I have ever done was when I decided to study abroad in Barcelona for a semester. I really felt like I broke out of my shell.
Being in an unfamiliar place where you can’t speak the language is difficult, but I gained so much confidence in myself that I can achieve my dreams in life. I still have a passion for travel. I would love to become a travel writer one day and circle the globe!
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