There are days when it seems that the brain is literally bursting with ideas that swarm in it; the information, necessary and unnecessary, is poured on us from all over the place and we do not have time to process it. We can’t stop thinking about what is going on, scrolling through plans in our heads, even at night, and that’s why we suffer from insomnia. The inability to “turn off” the brain is the main cause of burnout that is talked about so much today. The problem with professional burnout is not that a person doesn’t take the time to rest, but that they don’t know how to rest. Your body is in the bathtub, surrounded by peace and quiet, with soothing music and scented candles. But the mind at this point is busy making a list of tasks for tomorrow. While the body rests, the brain keeps working.
Don’t think about anything! Is it possible? Or the thought process cannot be stopped? To answer this question, let us remember the parable of the neophyte monk, who was given a task by an old teacher – to sit in a cave and think about nothing all day. The longer he tried to get rid of the thoughts, the more intrusively they came into his head. Conversely, when the novice’s task was to think about something continuously, pauses began to appear in his thought process. In fact, the more we try to consciously suppress the continuous work of the mind, resisting a particular thought, the more intrusive it becomes in our head. This effect was proven by Professor Daniel Wegner.
What, then, if the thought suppression method doesn’t work??
Is there anything you can do to stop this process or at least slow it down so your brain finally relaxes too?
Why we must learn to stop the train of thought
First, let’s understand what we need to clear the mind from, so that we can learn to stop the train of thought.
From thinking about tasks and plans for the future
Most of the time, we are rehearsing in our heads what needs to be done, thinking over and planning for the future. The brain bounces from one task to another and throws us into a panic from the piling up of the number of cases. The most effective way to free your mind from this chaos is to “offload” all tasks onto paper or electronic media. Every time a “must-do” thought pops into your head, write it down and don’t keep it in your head. If it’s something small and insignificant like “don’t forget to call your sister,” do it right away and don’t take up space in your mind. The same goes for things that can’t wait. Just note down the rest of the tasks as they arise in your mind. Part of the load is transferred to the medium. It frees the brain from the need to keep everything in memory, makes the work more productive and you are more likely not to forget anything.
There is even a technique called GTD. The idea is not to try to keep everything in your head, but to move it to a special “storage medium”. This applies to all tasks – both business and personal. The technique works on a “remember – write down” basis. For example, if you get a text message that you must have a medical checkup, you put it into the store, if you see an ad for an avocado in the supermarket, you put it into the store, etc.d. All these tasks may be systematized according to their importance or urgency, given the character of top priority, ways to reassign them to someone else, etc.d.
Then, in the time allotted, you analyze the list and decide when and how you will get things done.
This technique helps a lot to reduce stress and frees up a lot of “operating space” in your head.
From an overabundance of information garbage
An overabundance of information, most of which we do not need at all, is a serious psychological problem of modern man’s existence. If twenty years ago we lived in the information field, limited by newspapers, books, television and the immediate surroundings, now we are literally in a non-stop mode under the influence of information noise and the main source is, of course, the smartphone. The constant flow of information turns into chaos in our heads and does not give us emotional balance.
The solution is seclusion. Try to abstract yourself from all gadgets and sources of useless information at least during non-working hours. Let the outside world remain outside your personal space. Turn off your phone and computer, don’t turn on the TV, and don’t open the newspaper. Just be alone in silence. At first, it will be difficult, so limit the time of seclusion to 10 minutes. Over time, increase the length of these pauses. The rest of the time, try to minimize interaction with social media, they are often the ones who steal our peace of mind and keep us from relaxing.
From intrusive thoughts
Anxious, restless thoughts that revolve around the same thing, or even just an annoying line from a song, do not allow you to free your head and come to a state of peace.
The best thing for such an occasion ismeditation is good. The variety of meditative practices is very wide, so choose the way that works best for you. You can download a special application, study the technique, and practice on your own, or find audio accompaniment online. You should not expect to be able to turn your mind off right away, but you will probably feel a minimum relaxing effect right away.
Don’t let the word “meditation” scare you. There is nothing otherworldly or esoteric about it. Modern meditation is a psychological practice based on concentrating on an object, most often the breath. The awareness at the time of doing it is centered on how you breathe in and out, tracking your bodily sensations and not processing any other information.
From Wandering Thoughts
There is a concept in psychology called the “monkey brain.”. It refers to a certain state of our mind when it is not busy thinking about something in particular. Thoughts wander from one thought to the next, like a monkey jumping from branch to branch. At this point, your brain isn’t resting either. You look out your window and see a blooming tree and enjoy the view, and then a minute later you find yourself wondering how many sugars to put in your apple jelly, or you find yourself munching on a sandwich. And yet you have no memory of how it came to be in your hands. The mind seems to live its own life. So your brain continues to work, even if you are not aware of it. The wandering, active brain is contrasted with the brain in a state of being.
Psychologists as a “cure” for constant mental journeysThe Focused Attention Technique. This method means that in every minute of time it is important for us to concentrate on living the current moment. And it’s primarily about sensory experiences, sensations, and emotions. You can focus your attention on any everyday activity, such as doing the dishes, washing and ironing the laundry, or brushing your teeth. The mind at that moment will not be stuck in an active state, it will be free of any thinking, and the consciousness will be absorbed in the perception of what is going on – what toothpaste smells and tastes like, how it feels like to rub the toothbrush against the teeth, etc.d.
Uninterrupted and concerned attention is the best way to balance and calm the mind and clear it of all unnecessary things.
It is not only the process but also an object, like a candle flame or a monotonous sound. Our mind can only be focused on one thing at a time. This was confirmed by neuroscientists at Brown University. Brain cells responsible for the perception of a particular object is activated and inhibits other stimuli (eg, unwanted thoughts). This deliberate direction of attention is also a kind of meditation.
From unpleasant memories and analysis of past mistakes
Have you had to replay the same event from the past over and over again many times? To think about how one should have acted in that situation? Experiencing shame and regret about something? Surely the answer to these questions is “yes” many times over. It’s human nature to focus on the past and mentally re-experience an event that has already happened. This in itself can make us unhappy, because we tend to remember negative experiences. But even when your thoughts revolve around past success, the brain at this point is tense and not resting.
The most effective way to get rid of this thought pattern –Focus on the sensations of the present moment, t.e. to use the directed attention technique we discussed in detail above.
Another effective practice is to replace unwanted memories with ideas of something good, i.e.e. Visualize.
Now, as soon as you notice that your brain is overwhelmed, trace the cause and boldly use any of the suggested methods.