Calm the Mental Chatter
So many of the people that come in for therapy talk about the difficulty in shutting off their minds. They're often caught in the endless web of their thoughts-- constantly thinking, constantly worrying, and their thoughts are so prolific that they have barely finished one thought before the next one swoops in. It's a constant buzz they can't break away from.
I can't forget to pick up milk and break on the way home so I can make Jaime's lunch. What am I going to do about Jaime's grades? He was a straight-A student just a year ago. It's probably because I'm having to work so many extra hours. Doesn't my boss see I'm already swamped with projects? If I tell her no, I'll lose my job. What's wrong with me? Why can't I ever stand up for myself? It's just like my ex said, I'm weak. I feel weak. I can't remember the last time I felt strong and rested. It's probably because I can't sleep. I'm never going to be able to sleep again because it's so LOUD in my head-- maybe I'll just keep myself busy so I don't have to deal with all the NOISE! It's always easier to sleep when I'm exhausted anyway.
Keeping busy seems logical, but our minds are determined to get our attention-- at any cost. Imagine your mind is like a small child gently tugging her mom's sleeve to get her attention. Mom's busy making dinner. So what does the kid do? That's right. The gentle tug on the sleeve soon turns into the stomping of feet and steadily escalating chorus of Mom. Mom! MOM! MOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMM!!!!!
Instead of avoiding the mental chatter, embrace it. Gently. With mindfulness.
Mindfulness, the practice of focusing on the here and now without judgment, allows us to fully take stock of what is happening for us moment by moment. Sometimes what is happening is the endless chatter of our brains. By leaning into it, and practicing mindfulness we build compassion for ourselves and others, space between our thoughts/feelings and ourselves, and increases our ability to better decide what we expend our energy (ie, to change) or allow ourselves to let go. And one of the best parts of practicing mindfulness is that many people experience the side-effect of relaxation and increased calmness.
The video below is a lovely mindfulness exercise specifically designed to help you manage all of this mental chatter. Use this exercise whenever your mind is buzzing, and you want some relief.