How do you relax yourself when your mind is revved up?
Here’s a shortcut:
Don’t think so much.
Really. Short-circuit the pattern of thinking too much, too fast, for too long.
There are ways to do this by examining the emotions often driving racing thoughts. There are ways to ground yourself in your breath to shift your body out of the fight-flight-freeze that your brain and biology are still hard-wired to run. Or you could shift your physical, mental and emotional energy by moving your body, maybe jumping up and down to surprise your body out of its head.
All of these are important techniques for lasting stress relief and effective stress management.
But sometimes you just need to shift gears either with less effort, or more gentleness. One way to do that is to reconnect with Awe.
Awe has a great way of shutting up the mind, perhaps because with awe it’s so clear that words become inadequate, and thoughts get a clue that they’re puny in the face of grandeur and mystery.
What has inspired awe for you in the past? Perhaps it’s a place in nature, or a poem, a prayer, or a person. When you can’t get to a specific place or person that inspired awe for you before, you can always bring up the memory, and see and feel that as fully as you’re able. Or pull up the photo or video, if you have one.
Here are a few selections of photographs that might inspire awe, or appreciation, or careful attention, which are other solid mind-quieting shortcuts:
A collection called Zen Folio by Terri DeGezelle;
A Buzzfeed Collection of winning photos from contest winners a few years ago;
And a more subtle version of awe-inspiring, especially for you if you appreciate black and white photography.
Or this collection of views from Hubble, which are always good for a moment of Pause and Awe.
The fewer thoughts, the more calm. Deliberately bring in Awe to help stop your mind when it’s overactive. There’s both calm and inspiration there, and clearer thinking and relief as welcome by-products.