Another Monday is upon us, and thus another very busy week for me. As I’m attempting to balance all of my commitments and mental/physical well being, I find an old “friend” of mine creeping in again: the mind chatter. I’ve got a little broken record playing constantly in my mind, reminding me of all of the things I have to do, reminding me that there’s no way I’ll get it all done, reminding me that I should just give up.
I’ll be honest here: I’ve struggled with anxiety since I was in middle school, and it’s something I still struggle with to this day. Some days, my anxiety is crippling, preventing me from doing things I used to love. Fear takes over as the dominating (and motivating) force in my life, causing me to question if I’m good enough, if I’m strong enough, and if I’m worth it. My little broken record starts playing its track of fear and anger, and soon enough, I’m listening to my mind chatter and believing it.
I’m still a work in progress and haven’t completely mastered the art of controlling my mind chatter. However, with professional help and the support of my friends and family, I’ve developed a few tips on how to become mindful and aware during those moments when the mind chatter takes over. Here are a few:
1) Take time to meditate daily, even if it’s just for 10 minutes. Meditation and I have had an on-again, off-again relationship, but I’ve finally started to keep up with it. The result? I become more mindful and have the ability to clear my mind. I love to meditate right before bed or for a short study break–it helps me shut the mind chatter up and focus at the task at hand (or get super relaxed). Meditation proves to me that I can be in control of my thoughts and that my little broken record doesn’t run the show. (I highly recommend Meditation Oasis podcasts–they’re free and super convenient since you can put them on your iPod!)
2) Acknowledge your emotions. Whenever I felt like my world was spinning out of control, I also felt like I was going crazy. My feelings of anxiety, anger and sadness were always so intense. I always felt like I was overreacting, and my friends in high school often commented that I was a “drama queen.” I stifled my emotions, not wanting to come off as over dramatic. However, it’s important to acknowledge that what you feel is real, even if the feeling is heightened. Acknowledging my feelings as real helped me understand how I react to certain situations and helps me gage what the appropriate solution to a problem is. While my feelings may be heightened because of my anxiety and depression, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t legitimate emotions. It shuts up the track on my mind chatter that tells me I’m constantly overreacting.
3) Be in the moment. I find that with so many commitments and to-do lists, it’s hard for me to enjoy the present, because I’m always worried about what I have to do next! It’s hard to do, but living in the moment is key to shutting the mind chatter off. When you’re spending time with your friends, be in the moment with them! You’ll have a chance to tackle that homework or plan that student meeting later. Scheduling your time is also key to this step, so you can take time to enjoy the present. I try to do schedule “me” time every day, whether it’s hanging out with my roommate and watching old “Boy Meets World” episodes or reading a book just for fun. I try to live those moments in the present, and my mind chatter subtly fades in the background.
How do you turn the “mind chatter” off? What are your strategies for living in the moment? Share below–I’m always looking for new tips!
LeadHer™ Intern, Campus Calm
Learn more about Meg here.