If you’re anything like me, you might find yourself lying in bed at night, staring at the ceiling and unable to sleep due to a series of endless thoughts. Another common situation is ending your workday only to find work still plaguing your thoughts as you try to enjoy family time.
Sometimes we just want to be still, but our minds seem to have a different plan.
Learning how to clear your mind is a skill that can help you regain your calm. You’ll also be better able to refocus your attention on a new task.
Clearing your mind doesn’t always come easy, especially when there is a lot going on in your life and the world. If you’re more sensitive than most, you may face extra challenges with pesky thoughts that don’t seem to give you a moment’s peace.
With practice, it can become easier to clear your mind. When you find methods that work for you, you’ll experience a newfound freedom.
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7 Methods for Clearing Your Mind
Humans are always thinking—it’s a blessing and a curse. People with anxiety know all too well the feeling of thoughts spiraling out of control or the difficulty of putting worries aside.
While it may not be possible to stop thinking altogether, according to scientists (unconscious thinking is always happening), we can put the brakes on conscious thinking to achieve some peaceful moments.
Let’s review several different methods you can use to clear your mind.
1. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is the art of focusing on the here and now. When you make the effort to take notice of what is going on around you, using the senses in particular, other thoughts can fall away.
Practice being present in the very moment you are in. What can you see, feel, smell, taste, and hear? Slow down and take all of it in.
For example, if you’re playing with your children, put distractions out of your mind. Focus on their touch, their laughter, and your feelings in the moment. You will only get this moment once. Try to be in it with all your being.
Don’t judge or analyze what is happening; simply experience it. When you do this, any lingering thoughts in your mind should fade to the background so you can focus on the present.
Learn more about the Benefits of Mindfulness for Moms
2. Try Meditation
Meditation is something anyone can benefit from. You don’t have to be a zen master to practice it. In fact, the steps for beginner’s meditation are quite simple:
- Find a quiet setting away from distractions
- Get in a comfortable position
- Close your eyes
- Relax your muscles, especially in your jaw and shoulders
- Set a timer (try 2 or 3 minutes when starting out, then work your way up to 5 or even 10 minutes)
- Focus on your breath
- Breathe slowly in and out
- If you find your attention stray or your thoughts begin to wander, gently bring your attention back to your breath
- Gradually return to your regular activities after your timer goes off
If it’s so easy, can you really benefit from it? Research has shown that meditation can help ease symptoms of anxiety, depression, and insomnia. It can even help with some physical conditions like irritable bowel syndrome or high blood pressure.
Simply giving your mind a break for a few minutes can mean a great deal. We rarely get such moments of calm in our lives, so why not create them intentionally? Give your busy mind a break.
You might feel fidgety or awkward when first trying meditation, but keep at it, and it will get easier. If you’re like me, you might even come to look forward to this time.
If you still need some convincing, I recommend the book 10% Happier by Dan Harris. It’s a true story about the life-changing power of meditation for a regular stressed-out person.
There are also plenty of meditation apps you can try with guided meditations. Insight Timer is a free one.
3. Write Down Your Thoughts
Do a brain dump on paper and get all those pesky thoughts out of your mind. Feel your anxiety release through the pen onto the page.
Write down anything on your mind, no matter how small or silly. Don’t judge your thoughts—just get them out.
If you want, you can come back to your thoughts later and try to organize them. For items you can take action on, put them on a to-do list.
What remains should be a list of concerns that were on your mind. Some may not be worth worrying about, and you can dismiss them outright.
Others may be outside your control at present, and the only thing you can do is some further processing of your feelings. You might choose to write more to explore those topics, or you could talk to someone.
Overall, the writing activity will get the thoughts out of your mind and cleared away or in a better place where you can deal with them.
This strategy can be particularly helpful at the end of the workday. Try making a to-do list for the next workday so unfinished tasks won’t bother you all through the evening while you’re trying to relax.
4. Talk to Someone
Talk to a therapist, partner, friend, family member, colleague, or anyone who will lend an ear about the concerns on your mind. Just like writing your worries down, talking about them stops the cycle of having your thoughts repeat endlessly in your mind.
You don’t have to rely on the listener to solve your problems. Simply having your feelings acknowledged can already provide a sense of relief.
Saying your concerns out loud might help you realize that they’re not as big a deal as they once seemed. Talking about your worries can also help you process them and explore potential solutions.
It can feel like such a huge weight lifted when you get your worries off your chest. Your mind will feel free to move on and focus on new things.
Don’t let a fear of embarrassment hold you back from speaking about your concerns. A trusted confidant won’t judge you—they’ll simply want to help. You can return the favor by being a good listener when they need it.
Some people have a stigma about seeking out psychotherapy, also known as “talk therapy.” However, these professionals are there for a reason—pushing your emotions down will only backfire in the long run.
Smart, successful people embrace therapy and use it as a tool to lead healthier, happier lives. The benefits of talk therapy continue long after the session ends. You will learn new tools for expressing and working through your feelings on your own.
If you can’t seem to rid your mind of concerns lately, make a therapist appointment or ask a trusted person in your life, “can I talk to you about something?”
5. Postpone Your Worrying
Take control of your thoughts by telling them, “I’ll get back to you later.” If worries won’t seem to leave you alone, set a time when you’ll come back to them.
By making an appointment for your worrying session, your worries will be able to leave your mind until then. Don’t schedule your worrying session right before bed as it could interfere with sleep.
When the time for your worrying session comes, allot a specific length of time, like 15 to 30 minutes, that you’ll allow yourself to explore your worries. They may feel less pressing after you’ve waited to face them.
With time, you’ll get used to confining your worries to a certain time period and not allow them to invade your thoughts as frequently. In other words, you’ll be more in control.
Your ability to control your thoughts can strengthen with practice. This technique has been shown to reduce worry and anxiety.
6. Engage in a Physical Activity
Exercise has been shown to have psychological benefits. According to Harvard Health, exercise “has a unique capacity to exhilarate and relax, to provide stimulation and calm, to counter depression and dissipate stress.”
Physical activity stimulates endorphins, the body’s feel-good chemicals, and reduces those nasty stress hormones. The feeling of the “runner’s high” has a basis in biology.
Even going for a brisk walk can do wonders to help clear the mind. Breaks with moderate physical activity have been shown to enhance concentration for up to an hour afterwards. You’ll be better able to focus on the activity at hand if you work your body.
While your brain can generally benefit from any type of aerobic exercise, making yourself completely exhausted may temporarily decrease concentration.
I think it’s always best to do an exercise that you enjoy—that way you won’t be thinking about how much you dislike it. Jam out to some uplifting music and feel good about what you’re doing for your body and your mind.
Let any thoughts or worries fall away as you put your energy into your muscles, coordination, and breathing. Relish in the power of your body.
If you can be active outside, that’s even better because nature has amazing stress-relieving effects.
7. Distract Yourself With a Hobby
Distraction is a great technique for clearing your mind. Practice a favorite hobby or try a new one to busy your mind and push any worries aside for a while.
I love reading and getting lost in a book. It’s a simple hobby that I can take anywhere. You can even try audiobooks if you’re too busy to read.
Doing something with your hands like knitting, crafting, woodworking, etc., can provide great stress relief. It can feel so good to create something from scratch. You’ll get a break from your thoughts and a sense of accomplishment.
Check out more hobby ideas for adults to get inspired.
Making time to do something you enjoy is so important for your mental health.
Benefits of Learning How to Clear Your Mind
We’ve now reviewed 7 different methods for clearing your mind. They’re all totally doable for the average person!
Learning how to clear your mind is an important life skill that can improve your focus and emotional well-being.
Some concerns are easier to deal with than others. We all have times in our lives where there are legitimate worries bothering us.
Some amount of worrying can even be beneficial. It can prompt you to prepare for a change ahead or take action and do something about a negative aspect of your life.
The idea is to get some moments of relief from your worries, no matter how real they are. Constant stress can take its toll on your mind and body.
I hope you now have a better idea of strategies you can try to clear your mind. Get some moments of peace from troubling or swirling thoughts so you can feel better and be present for all the good things in life.
You might want to also check out 11 Science-Backed Methods for Stress Relief