Think about whether this sounds like you:
Your mind feels like it is literally going 150MPH. You have a million things to do and have no idea where to start. You feel overwhelmed by it all. That little voice inside your head keeps telling you that you will fail, that you can’t possibly accomplish all this stuff and be successful. All the negative thoughts are clouding up your mind like crazy. Your creativity is blocked and you’re always so distracted. And then all of this just makes you feel emotionally and physically…
Sound familiar? Well, it should. Every human being experiences this when trying to boss up in life. Sis, this is what is called MONKEY MIND. You know how monkeys are crazy, swinging around all over the place? Well our thoughts are like that too.
“Monkey mind” is actually a term coined by Buddha which describes our ego – our inner critic. It’s the part of you that has those racing negative thoughts that are keeping you from being productive. To get shit done (and for your own sanity) you have to tame this monkey! Thankfully, we have ways to do so:
This is legit the #1 way to tame your monkey mind. Meditating allows us to practice mindfulness, which brings you awareness and clarity. It helps you live in the NOW rather than what you’re supposed to be doing tomorrow or whatever. There’s many different types of meditation, but one of my favorites is Focused Attention meditation. Here, you simply focus on your breath, a specific sound, or a feeling.
Breathe – use the 4-7-8 breath counting technique (breath in 4 seconds, hold 7 seconds, breath out 8 seconds) and focus on how the inbreath and outbreath feel.
Sound – turn on some meditative music and pay attention to how the tones change, the differences in pitch and volume, the different types of sounds.
Feeling – meditate with crystals, feeling all of the edges and ridges, smoothness and roughness of the stone.
Meditating does take a bit of practice, so don’t beat yourself up if you can’t focus at first. Just keep practicing. With time you will see that you are getting better and better at it. And you’ll also start to notice how much easier you can calm the monkey mind and bring yourself back to the present moment.
Make friends with your monkey
Your monkey is not a bad person. In fact, we all actually NEED our monkey in order to get stuff done. Without it, we’d be lazy, useless and super unproductive. It is only when your monkey goes ape-shit where it started to impact you negatively. So, make friends with your monkey!
- Give your monkey a name and visualize that sweet adorable monkey. Look at some pictures on google images of monkeys – they’re cute
- Write a letter to yourself from the monkey’s perspective: what is the monkey so worried about? What’s going on?
- Then, write a letter to your monkey from yourself telling it that THINGS WILL BE OKAY! Write about how you’re going to make things okay and how you plan on handling all the things you are worried about.
- Read that letter again and again, especially when your monkey mind starts to act up.
Ground your senses
Like meditation, grounding yourself to the present time and place is another way to practice mindfulness. The power in the NOW is actually so powerful in helping you calm your mind and relieve yourself from anxiety and fear.
The best way to do this is by tapping into our 5 senses: sight, smell, hearing, taste, touch. Practice this technique when you are trying to ground yourself:
Sight: Find 3-5 things you can see. Name it. Describe its physical features.
Smell: What do you smell right now at this moment? What does the air smell like.
Hearing: What do you hear right now at this moment? Where is the sound coming from?
Taste: What kind of taste do you have in your mouth right now? What’s that spit tasting like?
Touch: Touch 3-5 things around you (your clothes, your desk, your pencils, IDK whatever is around you – you’re not in the middle of the desert) What does it feel like?
Identifying all of these things will give your mind a break from running wild and will then help you recollect yourself enough to think things through clearly.
I cannot stress the importance of WRITING SHIT DOWN! Our mind is not big enough to hold all of the thoughts that it has – so write it all down!
You have a million things to do? Write them down and make a list. I guarantee you that once you do that, you will actually see that the number of things you have on your list is actually much less than the “million” you thought it was. Also, checking things off your list gives you the happy feels, and happy feels calms the monkey mind like a drug.
Feeling all negative? Make a table. Write down your negative thoughts in one column. In the second column, write down more REALISTIC and positive thoughts. And then in the third column, write down an action you can take to accompany those positive thoughts.
Redirecting your attention to something physical is a powerful tool in calming your mind. I don’t have to tell you twice that exercising regularly is good for you. It’s good for your health, heart, happiness, and all of the above. But it is most definitely a good release of all of your stress. Run, lift weights, do yoga, take up boxing. Whatever it is, when you engage in those activities your brain is focused on just that. For instance, I like to do weight training, because 1. My mind is occupied on how heavy weights are and 2. Counting my reps helps keep my focus on JUST my work out and NOT my to-do list.
However, it is soooo important to make sure you take on a physical activity that you actually like and enjoy. If you hate running, don’t run just because people told you it’s good for you. Because then, you’re just focusing on how much you hate it and it defeats the purpose of being a stress reliever. Take up something that you find fun and can get excited for – like as I’m typing this I cannot WAIT to get to the gym tonight!
Yes, color. Pretend you are in elementary school again, which was probably the last time any of us felt completely stress-free! Pick up one of those adult coloring books, something with designs that you find pretty, grab some colored pencils, and go at it! Coloring allows you to focus your attention on the coloring (since you must color in between the lines!) and watching the color of your pencil or marker fill in onto the paper is just satisfying to watch. When coloring, practice mindfulness as well. Look at the colors that you are coloring and think about how those colors make you feel.
Create a list of mantras and self-affirmations
Affirmations are positive statements that you use to encourage and motivate yourself. They can be things like “I am amazing” or “I am enough.” Pretty much anything you can think of to really hype yourself up. Don’t be humble when thinking of your set list of affirmations – you are the amazing boss lady you are so OWN UP TO IT!
What to do with self-affirmations and mantras:
Write them down in a journal. I remember when I was in middle school and my math teacher gave me detention for chewing gum in his class, and in detention I had to write “I will not chew gum in class” on graphing paper until I filled up the page. Did it help me stop chewing gum in class? Well no, but that’s because I was a rebellious 13-year-old. You are not a 13-year-old so writing stuff down WILL help you.
Another thing you can do is make a routine of saying your affirmations when you wake up every single morning. I like to write them on sticky notes to stick on my bathroom mirror so I can read them off while brushing my teeth.
You can also say these affirmations while meditating. Use them in conjunction with your breathing. Inhale all of your doubts, worries, fears, insecurities and exhale with saying your affirmation.
Practice acceptance and self-compassion
You know what, sometimes things are just shit. Some situations suck and sometimes we all do fuck up here and there. But you also know what? That it is completely OKAY. Nothing jumbles your mind up more than dwelling on how much stuff sucks or on your mistakes.
That’s why always practice the acts of acceptance and self-compassion. Accept that sometimes things do not always go your way. Sometimes things are out of your control. And whatever happens in life is all meant to happen in divine order. And be compassionate to yourself. You are human, you are allowed to make mistakes because you will learn and grow from them. You also should always make yourself and your health a priority. Making acceptance and self-compassion as part of your daily mindset helps calm the mind and helps to make life seem a little less crazy and out of control.