To get out of your head. To stop those constant negative thoughts, particularly the self-demeaning and deeply upsetting ones.
I remember that craving for nothing but just a little bit of peace within. A break, a rest and some calm. A silent mind that doesn’t torment us.
Whilst I no longer feel depressed, I obviously (like all other beings) still experience feelings of upset, sadness, frustration, anger etc.
And when you’re facing something challenging, it can be difficult to switch off. From your thoughts and also from the feelings that go with them.
Telling yourself to snap out of it doesn’t work. To just pull yourself together. To get over it.
Telling your thoughts to stop doesn’t work either. Fighting your own thoughts tends to only strengthen them.
So what can you do to get our of your head and to calm those thoughts?
get into your body to get out of your head
In the typical Western culture the body tends to be forgotten. Again and again you receive the message to think critically, to make decisions and to respond. To use your brain. Become smarter, work harder. You do, do, do and only pay attention to your body when something starts to ache.
Plus, particularly we women grow up and see our bodies in a highly critical way. Rather than viewing your body as this incredible wonderland that allows you to do the most amazing things, your body instead early on becomes a source of stress: it’s all about appearance.
And yet, your body can be your true refuge.
You might be overweight or underweight. You might have physical symptoms and health problems. And in particular, you might not like how certain body parts look – my guess is that we all feel this way.
But your body is always there for you. You can get out of your head by getting into your body. Particularly in moments when things feel tough, use your body as your anchor. Let it ground you.
4 ways to reconnect with your body to calm your mind
Connect with your breathing
Your breath is your true anchor. It’s always there for you.
Try this simple breathing technique to reconnect with your body and breath:
Breathe in to the count of 4, and then out to the count of 7. Repeat.
A popular variation of this the also the 4-7-8 breathing. Again it’s simple:
Breathe in through your nose to the count of 4, hold your breath to the count of 7, and then fully exhale through your mouth to the count of 8. If holding your breath is too difficult, just count slightly faster.
Use your senses
You can notice lots of thoughts coming into your head. You can also notice lots of challenging emotions. But what about your senses?
What can you see, hear, smell, taste, feel/touch?
Really try and pay attention to what your body is noticing.
Also, is there perhaps an area in your body that feels tense? Try to soften it.
Focusing on your senses is likely to slow your breathing and to calm you even if just a little bit. The more you do this, the easier it will become to use your body awareness as a way to get out of your head.
Do a body scan
Much like using your senses, you can also take aside a few minutes of your time and do what’s called a body scan.
If you haven’t come across it yet, it’s a mindfulness exercise that focuses your attention on different parts of your body and also often aims to release any bodily tension. Try this one here (you’ll need 15 minutes).
Move your body
There’s a popular saying about exercise being the most under-utilised antidepressant. Moving your body is an extremely effective tool to get you out of your head. It totally works for me and my clients as well.
In fact, one of my clients has recently done a bit of a self-experiment about the effects of running and yoga on her mood.
On the days where she either went running or did yoga, her mood was much, much better. Plus, it also motivated her to eat better!
And on the days where she didn’t move her body much, she noticed a real drop in her energy and mood. A great eye-opening experience for her!
I wrote about the benefits of yoga for depression before, and also about how to start exercising if you’ve never really done it much before. Have a read and then even better, give it a go. Move your body to get out of your head.
When you’re longing for a sense of peace and calm within your mind, try grounding yourself in your body. It’s your anchor and it’s always there.
From taking a deep breath, to proper breathing techniques, your senses, a body mindfulness practice and exercise: there are lots of different tools for you to try. See what feels best. See what helps.