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How to relax when your brain won’t shut up

I was lucky enough to go to Glastonbury this year!

It was a great week in the Healing Field, running Cacao ceremonies and meeting so many interesting people, who were all so happy to be able to get away from it all down in Worthy Farm.

Something I heard a lot was that people were pleased just to be able to switch their minds off, that they were really struggling with anxiety: totally overwhelmed with a constant barrage of thoughts, leading to overthinking absolutely everything and being left with chronic anxiety.

I think everybody jokes about overthinking things every now and again, but do you ever stop to think about the effect it’s having on your body?

The effects of chronic stress on your body are well-documented: headaches, chest pain, muscle tension, fatigue and stomach problems are just a few of the issues you can experience – it’s a long list that’s enough to make anyone feel shaky, so I’d love to share with you my top tips for overcoming stress, anxiety and overwhelm!

1- Mindfulness practice. Make sure you’re taking time to reflect and 'just be' throughout your day. Our brains are hard-wired to be on constant alert for threats, a throwback to prehistoric times when threats were wild animals that wanted to eat us. Two million years later, even though those threats don’t exist anymore, our brains will still react to perceived threats in the same way! Train your mind to take time off from thinking all the time and watch your stress levels go down dramatically.

2- Have dedicated ‘no screen time’. Have you ever stopped to think how much of every day you spend staring at a screen? From looking at your phone first thing, to concentrating on a computer screen all day, to watching TV in the evening: we’re constantly processing so much information it’s no wonder we’re all completely overwhelmed! Read a book, take a walk, take up crochet, anything you can lose yourself in to really relax and switch off. Your brain will thank you.

3- Spend regular time in nature. I’ve talked before about how important it is to get out and about in the fresh air. Leave your phone at home (or ditch the headphones) and take some time to get outside and listen to the birds singing and the wind in the trees. You’ll be amazed at how quickly your thoughts will slow down.

4- Have a daily meditation practise. Tying into Tip #1, this is really key to quieting the mind and harnessing control of the incessant stream of thoughts. Meditation isn’t always easy – it’s mind training, after all. Like going to the gym, we don't necessarily get results straight away, but over time and with regular practise, you’ll notice huge differences.

5 - Yoga nidra. This is a beautiful practice of relaxing and switching off each muscle group in the body until you're fully relaxed and feeling a warm sense of inner peace. This is great for going to sleep and in a lot of cases, for relieving pain. It’s said that a 30-minute yoga nidra practice is equivalent to 2-4 hours of sleep! If you’re not sure where to start, take a look on YouTube, where you’ll find a variety of guided meditations.

6 - Do what you love. I heard something the other day that really resonated with me: I can’t remember the exact quote but it was something along the lines of “You’re not stressed because you’re doing too much, you’re stressed because you’re not doing enough of the things that make you happy”. We spend so much time doing things for other people – whether that’s at work or at home - that it’s easy to sideline the things you love doing. Stop, reflect, and make sure you’re enjoying a good work-life balance. Prioritise yourself and make time in your schedule to do the things that light you up and fill you with motivation.

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