We've all experienced times when the mind just seems to be racing away on its own.
It's like we aren't in control: thought trails spiraling out of everywhere, going down one rabbit hole and into another.
Sometimes we just go into overdrive, and it's almost impossible to put on the brakes. This causes us to feel stressed and overwhelmed.
The worst time is at bedtime when we should be calming down and getting the brain ready for sleep, or when we need to remain composed and focussed on an exam, interview or other serious activity.
When the brain is racing like this it is due to high brainwave activity.
If you were to take a screenshot of your brainwaves in moments like this you could pretty much bet your bottom dollar that you'd see a pattern of high beta and gamma wave activity.
The worst thing about this is that it can become habitual. You begin to fear being in this state and begin to associate specific circumstances with this state of mind. Then, when you are in that circumstance again, guess what? The mind begins its spin again.
So then, how to calm you mind, stop brainwave activity and reduce anxiety?
Here's 4 really easy, natural steps to doing just that.
Step 1: Take Some Deep Breaths
The first thing to do when you want to stop fast brainwave activity is SLOW DOWN!
Sit (or lay down) somewhere comfortable. Make an effort to make yourself as comfortable as you possibly can.
Next, begin to take slow, deep, conscious breaths.
Breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. One inhale should take around 3-6 seconds, depending on how big a breath you can take.
Pay attention to every breath. Watch it in through your nose, into your lungs, circle around and out again. Really visualise it!
After 6 or so breaths, you will notice your heart rate slow and your thought processes stop spiraling. This technique has been used on patients having panic attacks for years.
It is also used by Buddhist monks to settle into meditation practice.
Your brain will stop producing so many gamma/beta waves and begin to produce more calming alpha/theta waves.
Step 2: Listen to Some Theta Meditation Music
You can combine this step with step one very easily.
As I'm sure you'll know by now from my other posts on relaxation, listening to theta meditation music will reduce fast brainwave activity by lowering the brainwave frequency your brain is operating at.
Ambient/meditation music in general is known to slow the heart rate, reduce blood pressure and decrease levels of cortisol.
All you have to do is slip on your headphones, relax and press play.
You can do the breathing exercise while you listen for double the relaxation!
Just allow yourself to “go with the flow” and float away with the relaxing sounds and gentle music. Don't try to restrict thought processes or focus on really wanting to relax, just be as you are, focus on your breath and follow the music.
You'll find that within a few minutes the fast brainwave activity causing you to feel uneasy and anxious will subside.
This isn't just my idea either; science supports this.
Our findings indicate that music listening impacted the psychobiological stress system. Listening to music affected the autonomic nervous system (in terms of a faster recovery), and to a lesser degree the endocrine and psychological stress response. (Study link)
Using music as therapy and medicine has a history going back hundreds of years and in the modern day there is a ton of research. I find it so interesting. You can read more in this research paper – warning though parts of it use technical/medical language.
There's nothing quite like meditation music, and binaural beats in particular, to help you achieve deep relaxation.
Here's some of my top picks from my personal collection. Don't forget, you can also grab my very own relaxation mp3 (made by me), for free by entering your email address in the box at the top of the right-hand side of the page.
Step 3: Visualise a Beautiful Memory
Again, you can do this while you do the breathing exercise, or while you listen to the music.
Visualisation is a wonderful tool that we all have access to for free.
Simply allow your mind to wander through happy times and settle on a memory of when you were totally at peace with the world.
I often think of holidays and laying on a beautiful beach; listening to the sea wash up and away on the shore. Pick a favourite memory and picture yourself back in there reliving it.
Just pick any peaceful memory that you have and you would enjoy re-visiting.
Visualise truly being there. Notice the sights and sounds, feel the feeling of being there, even the smell of the environment. Use your imagination to explore.
Step 4: Imagine A Wonderful Future
Visualisation is a great tool for a number of situations. Imaging being tense and nervous waiting backstage, for an exam, interview, your wedding even! You can visualise everything going to plan and create the steps in your mind towards the best outcome.
If you are listening to the music I suggested above, no doubt you'll be feeling deeply peaceful, with much slower brainwave activity.
So why not take this moment to start imagining your ideal, dream future.
Pick a goal and visualise it unfolding.
This will be totally specific to you: whether it's…
- seeing yourself happy with family
- wealthy and running a business
- living abroad
- in a romantic relationship
- passing your driving test
Whatever you want, create it in your mind.
This will not only calm your brainwaves but encourage the “flow state”, which we generally associate with the production of Alpha brainwaves.
You'll feel zoned in and focussed as you see your dream come to fruition in your mind. Any anxiety and mind racing will be automatically calmed.
Visualisation is a big part of the law of attraction and actually helps us to achieve what we imagine. So out of these simple relaxation exercises, you may even find your dream life becomes a reality faster than you thought possible.
Your Mind. Just Calmer
Taking control of your mind is something that takes practice, but it's well worth doing and the benefits are enormous.
These tips are all things I use in my daily life, especially in the evening when my creative mind often decides it wants to stay up until past 3am!
I hope these few ideas help you slow your unwanted fast brainwave activity. Do let me know by leaving a comment below.
Remember like is a marathon, not a sprint.
Slow down: take some deep breaths, put on some relaxing music, visit a peaceful memory, then imagine a better, more fulfilling future.
I guarantee this will make you feel amazing!