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How Can I Quiet My Mind?

Hannah Hopper, LCPC

You may be familiar with Marie Kondo and her question, “Does this spark joy?” With the introduction of this question, we’ve learned that a decluttered living space can help bring calm and peace into the home. And while a decluttered living space can bring temporary relief to our minds, it only works to a point. While the competition for our attention is at an all-time high, it’s appealing to think of escaping to our tidied homes and running from the constant noise. But what happens when the noise follows us home and it’s actually in our minds? The work of tidying our minds takes a little more intention than decluttering a closet of clothes and dropping off bags at a donation center. Here are some exercises to try for a decluttered mind. 

The Brain Dump Exercise

Our minds can get trapped in cycling through to-do lists, plans for the weekend, and so many other things. The brain dump is a quick exercise to offer relief from this cycling, where everything is written down in one place. To start, grab a clean sheet of notebook paper and a pen. Set a timer for ten minutes, and put away your phone to really focus on the thoughts buzzing through your mind. Write down everything that comes into your mind, no matter how small or insignificant it feels at the moment. Imagine that as you write down thoughts, you’re literally placing them out of your mind, and freeing up space there. Once the time is up, crumple the sheet of paper and notice how different your mind feels when distractions are cleared away. Imagine breathing space into your mind and exhaling clutter and stress. 

The Mindfulness Exercise

Unlike the brain dump, this exercise focuses more on body sensations and tensions, rather than thoughts running through your mind. Sit in your chair in a relaxed position. Close your eyes and start to notice where tension sits in your body. Make sure your spine is straight, but not too rigid. Take three long, deep breaths — breathing in through your nose and then out through your mouth. Continue the deep breathing and notice the way your stomach will rise and fall with each breath. Begin to notice points of tension or stress in your body, see if you can focus your breath on those areas, and imagine the tension releasing as your breath reaches each of those spots. 

The Acknowledgement Exercise

Oftentimes, our minds are caught up on the little details of our day as we obsess over our to-do lists and whether or not we’ll have enough time to complete everything on them. Not only that, but underneath the fixation on to-do lists, there can also be something deeper that we’re worried about. The worries over details can help us temporarily escape the underlying anxiety, but it’s only a quick fix. Acknowledgment helps us face what is really causing the anxiety, rather than running from it by distracting ourselves. Was it a recent job performance review? A conversation with family members? An impending breakup? Naming the real source of anxiety can be uncomfortable in the moment, but it will also bring relief. Recognizing our source of anxiety can actually be a way to let go of what we’re trying to escape. 

Decluttering the mind takes time and practice, but the result of a calmer, relaxed body is so worth the effort. If you’re ready to take that first step towards decluttering your mind and would like to schedule a counseling session with Symmetry Counseling, you can browse our therapist bios to find someone that’s the right fit for you. We also have intake specialists who can help pair you with a therapist who specializes in what you’re wanting to work through. Contact Symmetry Counseling to start therapy in Chicago, or call us at (312) 578-9990 to get matched with someone. 


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