How to Turn Down the Noise in Your Life
STEP 1: Tune in to your mind-set. continued...
To quiet your restless mind, try four-corner breathing: Using a square or
rectangular object like a door or window, look at the upper left-hand corner
and inhale to a count of four; move your gaze to the upper right-hand corner
and hold your breath to a count of four; shift to the lower right-hand corner
and exhale to a count of four; then finish at the lower left-hand corner and
silently say, Relax, relax, smile, and do just that. Then repeat the
exercise. You'll feel more clearheaded, so you can change your perspective on
what's eating at you. Perhaps that snide coworker was just having a bad day —
while you have every right to feel hurt by her comment, remind yourself that
it's not personal.
Sarah French, 28, of Phoenix, a stay-at-home mom, used to notice her mood
plummet when she'd fall off her diet. And that gloomy frame of mind would throw
off her concentration all day. So instead of obsessing over that extra cookie
she scarfed, she started using the nonemotional phrase That's
interesting! And if negative thoughts (such as I messed up) start
monopolizing her mind, she tells herself, That's interesting! Look how I'm
putting myself down. "Stopping, stepping back, and observing myself
like this helps me clear my head, let go of things, and shift my mind to more
important matters," she says.
To suss out the hidden issues that might be sapping your
concentration, ask yourself, What's really going on with me? If you're
struggling to find the answer, think of a frank, wise friend and ask, What
would she say to me right now?
STEP 2: Now, adjust that mind-set.
Just telling yourself, Don't worry, be happy won't do the trick, but
there are effective ways to get your mind and mood to a better place.
"While you can't change the way you feel, you can change the way you
think, and that in turn changes the way you feel," says Palladino.
Ask yourself, Is there anything I can do about my problem right now so I'll
feel less tense/angry/worried/whatever? If there is, do it — or make a plan
to. For instance, if your husband, leery of high gas prices, wants to cancel a
holiday trip that really matters to you, schedule a time to discuss it with him
in two days — and in the meantime, research ways to travel more cheaply. If the
report your boss wants seems daunting, sit down and make a detailed list of the
steps you need to complete. If you acknowledge how and when you'll resolve the
problem, your anxiety level will drop and your brain won't endlessly mull over
the issue, keeping you up at night or stealing your attention when you're
trying to listen to your kids or finish up a work project on time.