Brain On Overdrive? Here’s How To Calm Your Mental Chatter
How many tracks do you have in your Spotify right now? A few thousand, we bet, and they’re all carefully curated into playlists.
Compare that to the constant mental soundtrack – on average a person has 50,000 thoughts running through their head throughout the 24 hours in a day. If you are spending crazy amounts of time listening to something, it’s important to make sure that they’re the right tunes, and trashing the ones that suck.
SORT THE MUSIC IN YOUR MIND
Think of the experiences you’ve had as the ‘songs’ that make up your mental playlist. Psychologist Dr Nick Petrovic says our thought patterns develop as a result of past experiences, personality traits, attitudes and beliefs, and sometimes even a result of habit. “How we interpret events and how we might have contributed to them results in thought patterns that may be recalled in similar events, even if the circumstances are different,” he explains.
When we think the same thing over and over again, our brain finds it easy to revert to a certain way of thinking as it’s essentially been trained to do so. And though it might not be accurate, it’s a habit.
LISTEN TO THE GOOD STUFF
Think of how music can influence your mood. Like how you’d listen to Beyoncé’s “Formation” instead of “All I Ask” by Adele to smash that workout. Same goes for your mind. Having the right tone for your internal dialogue can influence everything from your outlook to your self-confidence. “Listening to a Debbie Downer mental playlist can make you quite doubtful of your abilities,” says Dr Petrovic. “It can also impact how you interpret the behaviours of those around you, and make you less open to new experiences or opportunities, and can distract you from enjoyment.” For mental clarity that will bring you joy, move the bad tunes to the trash.
PLAY A MIX OF EVERYTHING
No-one can be perky 24/7, we get that. While a positive playlist is more beneficial for your health, the goal isn’t to have it on that setting all of the time, it’s to try to have productive thoughts and recognise that your negative ones are often part of this.
“Hundreds of thoughts enter our minds. The trick is to let them leave us just as easily, training ourselves to give more value to the thoughts that serve us than we do the ones that hinder us,” Dr Petrovic says.
Ultimately, when it comes to the background music in your head, it should be “less about silencing your internal critic and more about giving your inner cheerleader a microphone”. Or in this case, letting it dictate your mental playlist. The party in your head is always awesome when DJ Good Vibes is on the decks.
3 WAYS TO CALM MENTAL CHATTER
Create a mental gratitude list. When you find yourself having a pity party of one, think of three things that make you happy.
To feel good, play the opposite game – tell yourself something different from what you’re actually thinking and look for the possibilities. Sometimes, things aren’t what they appear to be.
Set aside time each day to meditate. Your mind may be hyped up like a three-year old on a sugar high at first, but if you stick with your routine, meditation will soon be able to calm it right down.
* This story was previously published in CLEO Malaysia in 2018