We all want to achieve great things and rise to the challenges that come our way with the mindset of a Champion. However, at times, the only thing standing in your way of doing your best is a troubled mind.
Here, we present you five simple tips that can help you clear your mind and stay calm, as researched by neuroscientists and shared on Psychology Today. Through these tips, you will be on your way to getting ahead in life as you set out to achieve your goals and make a difference through the things that you do.
A study conducted by researchers at Brown University in the United States has found that people can learn how to manipulate their alpha rhythms in the somatosensory cortex (the area of the brain that receives sensory input from the body) as they shift their attention through mindfulness training. Thus, to put it simply, mindfulness involves consciously thinking about the thoughts that go through your mind and accepting them without getting carried away. This form of “active thinking” helps you free your mind of negative and depressive thoughts and push forward to achieve your goals with renewed confidence.
Our minds work by thinking of one thing at a time. Thus, when you shift your attention on one thing, you are purposefully ignoring other thought processes that might be going on at the same time.
This act of ignoring involves finding a “distraction”, whereby we forget about the unpleasant thoughts that go through our minds and rely on external sources to draw our attention away from them. Some examples of these external sources include talking to a friend who reminds you that everything will turn out well in the end, or to volunteer your time and energy towards a worthy cause, putting all selfish thoughts aside.
When your mind gets overwhelmed with various things to think about, bad feelings and negative thoughts are bound to crop up amid it all. In your bid to avoid that unpleasant feeling, you do what it takes to ignore and put these thoughts at the back of your head. This thought process is called suppression, which involves us consciously ignoring something to avoid further complications.
Although this method may temporarily work to block out distractions, do note that suppression requires a lot of willpower for it to work, as we need to keep our emotions in control. At the end of the day, there is only so much that we can contain until these bottled-up feelings bring out the worst in us (i.e think of a can of carbonated drink bursting open). Before you get to the point of breaking down, another block-out method which you can consider is substitution – which will be discussed in more detail below.
Do not lose hope just yet if suppression does not help to clear your mind when you really need it to – there may be hope in substitution. Researchers at the University of Cambridge found that memory substitution is supported by caudal prefrontal cortex (the part of the brain which determines one’s personality) and mid-ventrolateral prefrontal cortex which controls one’s memories. Together, these two regions work together to bring specific memories to light amidst distracting memories.
Substitution involves using your imagination to replace unpleasant thoughts with more positive ones. It allows you to create new memories by pretending you are in a different place or experiencing something new, although this may be short-lived. However, do use this method with caution, as it can cause some people to live their lives based on what they imagine that they stray so far away from reality.
Lastly, meditation is another popular method used to calm a troubled mind. While there are several ways to meditate, they all share a common purpose: to observe your thoughts consciously and watch them drift by. There is no specific sitting posture required in order to meditate – all you need to do is to assume a comfortable position, sit still and focus on the rhythm of your breathing.
Written by Justina Goh