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6 Ways to Clear Your Mind This Week

Clearing your mind can have multiple benefits including reducing stress and increasing productivity. Current events have been a source of anxiety for many people, and stress may begin feeling unmanageable for some. Simply turning on the television or looking at social media can cause anxiety, which can affect mental, emotional and physical health.

But learning ways to clear your mind and putting the concepts into practice can help reduce stress. In turn you will become more productive at work and at home, and may even achieve increased fitness and health. The following are some practices you can incorporate this week to begin your path to a clearer, healthier mind.

1. Journaling – Teenagers are often familiar with the wise concept of keeping a diary. That’s because writing out thoughts in a diary is a great way to relieve stress and pent up emotions. Today, adults call it journaling and it has become a very important way to keep sane in an insane world.

When the mind is extremely stressed, it is often due to excess rumination, or overly thinking about the past or the future. But writing out these thoughts can ease the pressure. It also appears that journaling has a positive impact on physical health as it can help manage anxiety and even help you solve problems leading to a more relaxed state.

2. Hiking – Hiking, especially in a wooded area, can provide a time to let go of stress and commune with nature. Many people find that being in nature naturally relaxes the mind, while hiking is an inexpensive exercise and hobby. As your body adapts to longer hikes of 30 minutes or more, increase the physical health benefits by hiking in more challenging areas that include hills or running on sand. Try changing scenery from a wooded area to a beach or wherever you feel happy to keep it interesting. And if you hike 150 minutes every week, you are reaching the recommended time to exercise according to theCenters for Disease Control.

3. Jogging – Jogging can be enjoyed by most people and when kept at a pace that is comfortable for you, is a great way to take your mind off of your worries and focus on health instead. Many people are familiar with the term, runner’s high, which is the feeling of elation that may happen about 10-15 minutes into a jog or run. This is the release of endorphins that add to a sense of well-being.

If you are new to jogging, begin with walking for 20 minutes. Over time, increase to brisk walking and when you feel comfortable, alternate 20-30 seconds of jogging with 2 minutes of walking. Slowly increase the amount of time you jog until you can continue at a light jogging pace for the entire 20 minutes. Be sure to use the best running shoes to protect your feet, ankles and legs and avoid injury. With regular jogging, not only will you clear your mind, but you can enjoy the benefits of increased fitness while helping your brain increase chemicals that make you feel happier and reduce stress. (1)

4. Exercise – Exercise is a form of physical stress, but when done right, feels good as it is both exhilarating and relaxing. Some people believe that working out with great intensity helps clear the mind while others feel that simply focusing on their exercise helps relieve mental stress. Either way, use your workout time to be mindful as you turn your attention to your body and physical health while allowing everything else to fade away, for now. Enjoy your time exercising by doing something fun, like a dance class, or workout with friends.

5. Meditate – Meditation is a common practice for those who want to practice mindfulness, relieve stress or increase focus. It can be as easy as sitting quietly for 5-10 minutes each day while actively keeping your mind clear of all thoughts. You can also count your breath in a series of four continually for five minutes, or mentally repeat a mantra.

As you focus only on your breath or keep your mind clear, you are learning to control your thoughts. Advocates of meditation claim it helps them reduce stress and sleep better. Regular meditation may even lower blood pressure for some people as they learn to clear their mind and let go of worries. People who meditate on a regular basis have a sense of peace about them that others notice; think of the Hindu sage or a yogi.

If your mind wanders during meditation, gently clear any thoughts and resume your meditation. It is normal for thoughts to intrude, which is why people must practice meditation on a regular basis. But the good news is that it does become easier with time, but still have immediate benefits.

6. Mindfulness – Mindfulness means to focus on the task you are doing, such as brushing your teeth, taking a walk or enjoying a meal. It involves using all of your senses to explore the moment and learn how you are responding or feeling in the moment. Some people consider this a form of zen meditation which can help train your mind to stay in the moment and not wander to negative thoughts.

For example, if you are drinking a cup of coffee, simply enjoy the coffee without reading emails or texting. Some things you might focus on would be tasting the coffee, feeling the temperature of it and the air around you, feeling the cup in your hands or even hearing the ding of the spoon against the coffee cup.

Understand that your mind will wander, and that’s okay because that is human nature. Simply bring your thoughts back to the moment and continue your mindfulness practice. Keep the practice short, and in time your brain will learn how to stay focused and clear without wandering to the worries and stresses of the day.

Resources:

1 Nishii A, Amemiya S, Kubota N, Nishijima T, Kita I. Adaptive Changes in the Sensitivity of the Dorsal Raphe and Hypothalamic Paraventricular Nuclei to Acute Exercise, and Hippocampal Neurogenesis May Contribute to the Antidepressant Effect of Regular Treadmill Running in Rats. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience. 2017 ;11:235. DOI: 10.3389/fnbeh.2017.00235.

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