Learning to relax your mind is a skill, but it is a skill that absolutely can be learned.
Let the list below be your guide.
Of course, as I always recommend, you know your life best and will know which of these steps to try first and which steps resonate with you the most.
Trust your body and who you know you are. The rest will fall into place.
Structure Your Unstructured Time
I can’t say this enough. If you don’t take time to save time for yourself, other people will set your agenda for you.
There will always be people who can come up with hundreds of ideas for how you should spend your time. That’s why you need to be diligent about creating a plan for how you will spend your time off.
I’ve found that if I don’t plan ahead to have downtime, my anxious mind will look for pointless activities to fill up any available time I might have. A basic structure gets rid of this issue for me.
Give Yourself Permission to Zone Out
For many people, zoning out feels irresponsible. It feels like a luxury we simply no longer have in this world.
With thousands of companies, media networks, and messages from all kinds of devices competing for our attention, it’s no wonder that much of the population feels anxious and stressed.
It’s when you give yourself permission to zone out that you relax your mind. Do whatever you need to do to get to this point.
Sometimes, for instance, I’ll do a little end-of-day ritual when leaving work. I’ll shake out my arms and legs as I head out the door or say “work is over” to myself to signal the end of the day.
But you should probably come up with your own ritual. It will be more powerful that way.
Take my examples as a guide and run with them.
Come Back to Focused Mode in an Intentional Way
What’s the point of taking time to relax your mind if you don’t use what you learned once you go back into “normal” life?
The stars don’t go away just because you aren’t looking at them anymore. They’re still there to guide your behavior and thoughts.
After you’ve taken time to let your mind relax, coming back to the reality of living can become an opportunity to embrace, not an automatic reason to stress about.
Buddhists teach that the water underneath rocky waves is always calm. You can return to that state of calmness through contemplation and meditation, but you don’t need to be a Buddhist to reap the benefits of mental relaxation.
Anyone can do it.
The real key to relaxing your mind is not simply that you do it–it’s choosing a different path once you leave relaxation mode. It’s seeing the bustling hubbub of daily living in a new way.
And that’s what I’ve learned about mental health as well. When I looked at the blazing stars this past weekend, I remembered that I actually enjoyed doing it as a child as well. I had simply forgotten what it felt like. I had forgotten that, as a child, I had anxiety and OCD behaviors then too, and I remembered how hard it was for me to let myself relax.
But I did it. And I’m doing it again now.
Relaxing your mind, strangely enough, takes effort. But it’s effort that is more than worth it in the long run.
It turns out, to regain my mental clarity, I simply needed to go to the desert to find my way back to shore.