It’s so frustrating, isn’t it?
You’re trying to quiet your busy mind, and it just keeps throwing things at you, as if to say, “How dare you shush me!”
And you’re asking, “How is quieting the mind even possible when my brain won’t shut up?”
You’re in good company.
Our minds are constantly encountering and processing new information, along with habitual self-talk.
It gets noisy in there.
So, what can you do about it?
- How can I quiet my mental chatter?
- How do you quiet your mind fast?
- How do I get my brain to shut up?
- 1. Exercise Your Body.
- 2. Breathe.
- 3. Meditate.
- 4. Write It Out.
- 5. Make a List.
- 6. Declutter Your Space.
- 7. Create Something.
- 8. Solve a Puzzle.
- 9. Read a Story.
- 10. Take a Break from Your Phone.
- 11. Make a Plan.
- 12. Set a Timer and Focus on One Thing.
- 13. Share Your Thoughts
Before we dive into our favorite ways to quiet your mind, let’s tackle some of the biggest questions that come up about quieting your mind.
How can I quiet my mental chatter?
The best way to quiet the noise in your mind is to give it one thing to focus on — one thing that doesn’t play well with others.
You’ll see plenty of ways to do this in the list of practices below.
The more you make time for these activities, the less cluttered your mind will become.
How do you quiet your mind fast?
The quickest way to quiet your mind is to stop what you’re doing and choose one of the activities described below.
Stop doing whatever is allowing your mind to invite all manner of noisy thoughts in to play.
Choose one thing that demands your attention and settle into it.
How do I get my brain to shut up?
If your mind is still so noisy you can’t think straight, start by bringing yourself back to the present moment.
Many of the thoughts circulating in your head are likely about the past or the future.
Focusing on the present moment leaves no room for those thoughts.
How to Quiet Your Mind Using These 13 Practices
Knowing how to take your mind off something isn’t the same as emptying your mind.
The aim here is not to turn your mind into a blank space; it’s to help you focus on one thing at a time, for better focus and a happier, more peaceful mental state.
1. Exercise Your Body.
And by exercise, we mean something that commands your attention — like weight lifting, dance, kickboxing, or interval sprints. Do something that involves thinking and isn’t compatible with multi-tasking.
Exercise like the ones we just mentioned require focus. And that what makes them so effective at helping you calm your mind.
You could also play a sport that keeps your mind engaged from start to finish. Team sports are probably more demanding of your attention, but some individual sports can be just as immersive.
Mindful breathing, if you’re doing it right, keeps your mind focused on the breath.
This might not sound engaging enough to do for long periods without being distracted. But the more you have to think about how you’re breathing and how each breath is affecting you, the more difficult it will be for your mind to wander.
Keep your mind occupied with the following:
- the count for each inhale and exhale;
- the way each breath feels as the air goes in and out;
- the mantra or meditation you use for your breathing.
Keep in mind that, even when you’re focused on your breathing, random thoughts will probably come.
Accept them as they are, without judgment, and allow them to pass through.
This word contains multitudes. Try a variety of meditation methods to find the ones that fit you, your personality, and your lifestyle best. Make time for meditation that keeps your mind focused on what you’re doing.
If your mind wanders, simply acknowledge it (you’re human, and random thoughts will come), and let it go. Don’t expect yourself to do this perfectly from the get-go — or ever.
You don’t need perfect. Consistent effort and daily commitment are more important. Set a timer, if it helps, and just keep trying to bring your mind back to your meditation.
4. Write It Out.
If your mind is buzzing with ideas, emotions, reactions, and general chaos, take a moment (or a few) and get some of those thoughts onto a page.
Set a timer, if you like, and just write down everything that comes to mind, either a bulleted series of thoughts or as a stream-of-consciousness monologue. Let the words out.
Just giving yourself this outlet can help you calm your mind. And writing in itself requires enough focus to rule out multi-tasking.
5. Make a List.
Brain dump lists are great. Think of anything to fill in the blanks for “10 Ideas for ______.” Then start writing your list. And make yourself keep going until have at least ten things.
They don’t have to be good ideas, either, but maybe avoid writing total nonsense. Pounding on your keyboard doesn’t count. Let yourself write down whatever comes to mind, even if you might never actually use it.
The point is to occupy your mind with making this list and to train your mind to think creatively without your inner editor getting in the way.
Even constructive criticism can be noise, sometimes. This is a time to create.
6. Declutter Your Space.
If you’re like many of us, decluttering your physical space has a quieting effect, not just because your mind is focused on the task at hand but also because the visible reduction of clutter you can see has a decluttering effect on the world inside your head.
So, in decluttering your outer, visible environment, you also declutter your inner, invisible one. It’s a classic two-fer. And this one can become addictive. The more you feel the effects of decluttering your space, the more you’ll want to enjoy that reward on a regular basis.
Plus, it’s way easier to focus in a clutter-free room.
7. Create Something.
Maybe you’ve noticed that when you’re immersing yourself in a craft like crocheting or calligraphy, everything else just sort of falls away.
Your mind is focused on the task at hand, especially if you’re having to count stitches for a specific pattern or focusing on mastering your brush stroke. That thing you were worried about five minutes ago just sort of gave up on you.
Because to do this one thing right, you need to give it your full attention.
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8. Solve a Puzzle.
This could be a jigsaw puzzle, a crossword, Sudoku, or really any kind of puzzle that requires focus. Even better if the clock is ticking and you’re keen on setting a new speed record, but it’s not strictly necessary to time yourself.
It just adds an extra level of urgency, which makes single-minded focus more important.
Ideally, this should be the kind of puzzle you actually enjoy solving. Don’t force yourself into doing crosswords if you don’t get a thrill out of solving them.
You want that dopamine hit that goes with solving a problem or moving on to the next level of difficulty.
9. Read a Story.
Read a work of fiction that interests you enough to keep your mind engaged. It won’t work if you don’t much care what happens to the characters.
To quiet your mind and keep it focused on the story, you need to feel personally invested.
Make time for recreational reading that draws you right into the story and holds your attention until you put it down. You want something that takes you right out of your “real world” and immerses you in a completely different one.
Watching TV doesn’t count. You’re not creating a new world in your mind; you’re just passively receiving the details. And it’s too easy to let your mind wander while you’re watching.
That said, an action-packed movie (ideally on the big screen) might do the trick, too.
10. Take a Break from Your Phone.
Put aside your phone with its daily onslaught of notifications about this or that. Resist the temptation to take your smartphone with you wherever you go. It’s like having another on-call job on top of the things you already have on your mind.
Someone texts, emails, or calls you, and you feel an obligation to stop what you’re doing and give your time and attention to that instead.
Or you start scrolling mindlessly through your Google news feed or social media feed and the chaos of ideas and suggestions clamoring for your attention just keeps growing.
Do yourself a favor and put your phone in time-out. Then do something that actively engages your mind.
11. Make a Plan.
If your mind has been fixating on something you want to do, and it won’t shut up about it — or it keeps returning to that thing every time your mind isn’t actively engaged in something else — make the time to give that order of business a closer look.
Ask yourself some questions, like, “Is this even possible for me right now?” and “What would I have to do to make this happen?” and “What could I do today that would get me a little closer to it?” or “How do I break this down into manageable steps?”
If this thing is doable, then make a plan for getting it done. Look at everything you’ll need to get started and to see it through.
Get it all down on paper or on a dedicated online planning page (Google Docs, etc.).
12. Set a Timer and Focus on One Thing.
If you’re intent on doing something to improve your life or someone else’s, and you’ve made a plan to get it done, one thing you can do every day to quiet your mind is to set a timer and perform a task related to that project.
Setting a timer for a specific duration helps you avoid spending more time on it than you can afford to, given your other daily responsibilities.
Planning your day and its commitments ahead of time and sticking to the plan helps you keep your mind engaged on what’s most important to you. It also makes it easier to stay in the present moment.
The app store is full of Pomodoro timer apps and other time-management tools you can use to help you tackle this project one focused sprint at a time.
13. Share Your Thoughts
Another way to quiet your mind is to share your thoughts about something in a blog post, an email, a text message, or a social media post.
Start by making a list of thoughts you could share. Then pick one and draft a few introductory sentences — each with a different focus or tone — to get you started.
Then pick your platform. How will you share these thoughts of yours? Where are you most likely to encounter your tribe? And are you hoping for a reply or just to get your thoughts out there, knowing you’re not alone in thinking them.
Sometimes, it’s enough just to trust that someone out there will feel less alone because you put aside your fear and shared something real about yourself.
Now that you know how to quiet even the noisiest mind, we hope you found some favorites and that you’ll make time for one of them today.
Life is so much better when you know how to tame the chaos and return to a peaceful awareness of the present moment.
May your efforts today bring you peace and renew your hope for a joy-filled life.