The Lincoln Center: How to Give Your Brain a Break

Image via The Lincoln Center for Family and Youth.

By Rachel Gruen, LCSW, CCTP

Do you ever feel like the inside of your brain is one of those amusement park Tilt-A-Whirl rides? You are not alone!

We are bombarded daily with a non-stop flow of information from our phones, our computers and from television. These days, we seem to be connected to the internet and social media 24/7.

It is more difficult than ever to unplug and calm our racing thoughts.

Fortunately, there ARE proven-effective ways to get a mental break.

The first step is recognizing what you are feeling. Your thoughts are directly connected to your emotions.

For example, if you are anxiously obsessing about what to make for dinner, those thoughts could be related to exhaustion from a long day at work, frustration that you have to stop at the grocery store rather than drive straight home, and worry that your family won’t like what you cook.

Once you are able to get to the emotional root of your non-stop thoughts, you can better pick which skills to use to calm those thoughts.

There are many excellent ways to calm your anxious mind. Here are a few of our favorites:

Let it out. Writing down what is on your mind is an excellent way to let it go! Try to use a stream-of-consciousness style. Write everything that comes to mind without censoring yourself. That will help you to be honest about what’s really moving that Tilt-A-Whirl in your brain.

You also can choose to rip up or shred the pages after you’ve written everything down as a symbolic exercise to remove it from your mind.

Get moving. This literally means any type of movement – walking your dog, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, going dancing, or anything else that is not just sitting in one place.

Physical activity of any type helps to burn off adrenaline and restore your inner balance.

Pick a code phrase. Also known as a “mantra,” this is basically just a few words that you repeat to yourself to distract your mind from the negative thoughts that are circling around you.

You can choose any phrase that you want; what’s most important is that you stick to the same phrase any time you feel your thoughts getting out of control.

It could be something like “I am OK,” “I will get through this,” or “This is temporary.”

You want to really focus your brain on the mantra, picturing the letters of each word clearly and holding onto the image of them. This will stop your circling thoughts in their tracks and give you something positive to hold onto instead.

As we continue through the last few months of this year, The Lincoln Center for Family and Youth (TLC) is committed to providing support for the families in our community.

We understand that between remote schooling and remote or in-person work situations, many families are struggling to find a consistent routine that supports everyone.

Parents and students are taking on new roles, but we want you to know that we have many resources for you.

Visit our website or check us out on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to learn more about who we are and the services we offer.

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