Expert Approved Mental Exercises For Stress

Expert Approved Mental Exercises For Stress

We all have times when stress hits, and when it does, it’s important to have a handful of tools at your disposal to help you. So, we have compiled five simple mental exercises that are sure to help you focus on calming thoughts:

1. Think of things that start with A, B, C, etc.

As Tiana Leeds, licensed marriage and family therapist, M.A., LMFT, mbg, has already explained, it is an easy way to calm down in the heat of a stressful moment by involving the rational part of your brain.

“By consciously readjusting our rationality, we can move from worry to logic,” Leeds explains. One way to do this is to think about things starting with A, B, C, etc. until you have completed the entire alphabet. You can repeat this as many times as necessary by using different categories such as food, first names or countries, she adds.

2. Count back through seven.

Another way to quickly engage the rational part of the brain is to count back by seven out of 100. “When we are overwhelmed by emotions, ” explains Leeds, ” it is more difficult to use our prefrontal cortex, the part of our brain responsible for logic, long-term decision-making and complicated thinking.”

By simply counting 100 times seven, we are able to access this part of our brain and feel calmer afterward.

3. Pair breathing with positive affirmations.

According to Michael Smith, N.D., of the Carolinas Natural Health Center, breathing helps your body’s nervous system switch to a calm, parasympathetic state (as opposed to the sympathetic state that strains you). This in turn brings the blood flow back to your brain so you can think more clearly, he previously explained to mbg.

While doing your breath, you can go further by combining it with positive affirmations to further strengthen a positive state of mind. (Check out our list of over 50 affirmations to get you started!)

4. Meditate.

We know that sitting down to meditate may not be for everyone – but meditation can look like a lot of different things (and that certainly counts as a mental exercise). Meditation is not only proven to relieve stress and increase overall feelings of well-being but can also include anything from a warm drink with mindfulness to meditation while walking or a mandala. It depends on how you like to type in the present moment.

5. Follow a color.

And finally, if you don’t manage to get that stressful thought out of your head, Leeds recommends engaging your senses by focusing your attention on a specific color. Look around and find everything you can see that is sapphire, then repeat with the color green, yellow, etc.

You can also go further (literally) by incorporating the movement. Walk around your neighborhood and follow a certain color. Perhaps you will see a sapphire car in front of you, and when you get there, you will notice a sapphire sign in front of you. Keep moving on to the next sapphire thing until your head is a little lighter.

Take-away food.

Stress is inevitable, but if we can control it, we don’t have to control ourselves. Redirecting our attention and engaging different parts of our brain can work wonders to move us to a calmer state of mind.