Last week was not the most stellar week (IMMHO) for humanity. Between all the chaos of Covid19, George Floyd, protests and then various things my own personal world; I ditched my weekly email. I just couldn’t face the task. Plus, with the way the weekend unfolded I still don’t want to face the task! But, here goes.
With almost half of 2020 over, the roller coaster emotional ride has been one that I’m guessing none of us would want to face again. As fortunate as I am to be able to work-from-home, stay relatively self-isolated and keep my ‘glass half-full’ outlook, the feelings of anxiety, hopelessness and shock of the world events that are unfolding are beginning to run amok as I find it harder to tune out the constant monkey mind chatter of despair.
Let me share a few suggestions of how to quiet the monkey mind chatter along with a few websites for more in-depth reading.
Mindfulness – Possibly the first step is being aware that the chatter is becoming obsessive. Consciously bringing attention to your thoughts without engaging – can naturally calm your mind. Strengthening your non-judgmental awareness of these constant thoughts helps to weaken control your thoughts have over you.
Meditate – The positive effects of meditation are well-documented. It takes a lot of practice to sit in a quiet space and listen to your mind as an observer. Let the thoughts roll through, but don’t grab them and obsess over them but let them float in and then out of your thought process. This is actually something that you can do in less than five minutes to calm down and feel more peaceful.
Breathe – As Mr. Miyagi told Daniel in The Karate Kid (which came out the week of June 22, 1984) ‘don’t forget to breathe’. When you don’t have time to meditate or exercise, taking a few deep, slow breaths can quickly calm you down when the chaos of the monkey chatter threatens to overtake your mind.
Exercise – Oh yeah, I have to go there! Walking or a few simple calisthenics is awesome for the body and also the mind. It’s well documented that physical activity releases mood-boosting hormones like endorphins. And it’s a lot easier to indulge in your worries and anxieties when you’re not doing anything else. With exercise, you move from a state of stagnant negativity to positive and healthy movement.
Color, craft, crossword – Several years ago I took up the adult coloring book trend and found it was a great way to leave that chatter behind. There’s promising evidence that cognitive activities like art, music, cooking, crafting, sewing, puzzles, etc. may ease the stress of brain chatter similar to meditation. The activity takes attention away from the chatter and temporarily suspends our attention to how we feel, the problems we are facing, even if we’re hungry or tired.
In addition to these suggestions, consider some of these other ideas:
- Call, Zoom, FaceTime with a friend or family member
- Read a book – something fun
- Sing or dance – who cares if you’re not that good... doesn’t matter
- Get outside yourself and help others
- Change your surroundings – take a drive, walk a different route
For additional reading: