2 Ways to Minimize Stressful Thinking
Ruminating on the same anxious thoughts repeatedly is stressful and degrades our health! Thoughts like, what if I don’t have enough money to retire or what will my kids futures look like? Fear-based thoughts can rule our minds if we don’t have the right tools to regulate them.
When the mind goes unchecked, it speeds up and generates even more thoughts. Unfortunately, these thoughts are often not helpful. They are often anxious thoughts about the future or regretful thoughts about the past.
Overthinking generates more mental confusion and triggers a stress response in our bodies. As a result, we may have difficulty seeing clearly and making decisions, and also feel more aches and pains arising in our bodies.
If we don’t learn to slow down our minds and regulate stressful thinking, it will often manifest as a disease in our bodies. The good news is there is something we can do about it right here and now.
The quickest way to minimize obsessive thinking is by cultivating a practice of presence.
Here are two proven ways to do it:
- Inner Body Awareness. One excellent practice is to close your eyes and feel your hands. Notice the placement, temperature, and pulse in your hands. Connecting to our body in the present moment relaxes the mind. The mind returns to the body and pulls the tendrils of thoughts inward, where excess thoughts dissolve.
- Breathing. Even one conscious breath can stop excessive thinking, says Eckhart Tolle, the Power of Now author. We can also hold our breath for a few seconds at the top of the inhalation to slow the mind. This gentle pause creates a precise moment of stillness to anchor the mind in presence.
Inner body awareness and breathing practice are two powerful techniques that create spaciousness in the mind and initiate the natural healing powers of the body.
In yoga we practice postures (asana) to stretch and open the body for good posture. Then we do some deep breathing (pranayama) which prepares us for meditation or the practice of presence.
This is known as the full path of Hatha Yoga – asana (body practice), pranayama (breath practice), and meditation (mind practice). It is guaranteed to slow the mind and relax the body.
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