During times of stress and exhaustion, it’s common for people to feel like they can’t shut their brain off. This can come in the form of rumination, wandering, racing, or intrusive thoughts.
The inability to shut one's brain off from intrusive thoughts and ruminations stems from anxious and stressful feelings and contributes to further anxiety, angst, and stress.
Why does this happen, and how can you self-regulate when it does? In this blog, we will share practical tips for helping to calm your brain during stress and exhaustion.
Discover BLOOM’s course Fear, Anxiety, Stress & Phobia.
Why Ruminations Happen
Ruminating is obsessive thinking about an idea, situation, or choice, especially when it interferes with normal mental functioning, focusing one's attention on negative or distressing thoughts or feelings that, when excessive or prolonged, may lead to or exacerbate an episode of depression or anxiety.
Some people have difficulty falling asleep or completing tasks they don't enjoy because their thoughts are racing so fast, and they simply aren’t sure how to switch them off.
Those who are so deeply mired in their ruminations may even have trouble doing something enjoyable due to the distractions of their racing thoughts. Exhaustion tends to make us look at life more bleakly since more cortisol (a chemical hormone) is released in the body.
What To Do To Shut Your Brain Off
The first thing to do is to be present, notice whom you’re with, and listen to what they’re saying; notice how your feet feel and your bottom feels on the surface that they are on, notice what you smell, hear, and see. Be very present and in the moment. This can be practiced throughout the day for 15-30 seconds at a time.
A cognitive method to help a person rise above their thoughts would be to stop as often as possible during the day, even ten times, and spend 15-30 seconds thinking about something that causes you happiness and joy. It can be something so seemingly small, like the smell of your morning coffee, your baby snuggling against you, a glass of wine you shared with friends or a day out at the restaurant you enjoyed.
Over time, this will help you stop thinking repetitive negative thoughts and refocus your brain on something positive. It may need to be done many times a day to help you wean yourself from ruminating slowly over time. Practicing even 30 seconds a day will help build your capability to calm your mind.
Support for Anxiety and Stress
If you struggle with turning your brain off, especially when you try to sleep at night, know it takes time to build your mental stamina to overcome it. Your mind loves what is familiar, yet it learns by repetition and works to move you from pain to pleasure.
Children and adults often need support as they overcome racing thoughts and ruminations. With BLOOM’s easily accessible online courses, you and your child can find the help you need. Discover our course Fear Anxiety Stress and Phobia, Emotional Control and Regulation, and Anxiety.