INDEX Brain Upgrade Neurotechnology Medical Dictionary Brain Facts How 1 to 10
INDEX Brain Upgrade|Neurotechnology| Medical Dictionary|How 1 to 10
In our 24-hour society, many of us feel like our brains are stuck in a feedback loop. The problem can seem particularly overwhelming when we're trying to get to sleep: The body has finally slowed down for a much-needed rest, yet the brain won't take a break.
To stop the cycle, tell yourself that nighttime is not worry time. "Lying in bed is not the time to problem solve," says Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D., an internist in Annapolis, Md., and author of From Fatigued to Fantastic. "One option is to get out of bed and write down everything that is on your mind, because otherwise it just keeps swirling around. Then pick a later time to solve your concerns."
If you prefer to stay put, try a technique borrowed from meditation. "Don't fight the chatter; don't make war on it," says Jeff Brantley, M.D., founder and director of the mindfulness-based stress-reduction program at Duke University's Center for Integrative Medicine in Durham, N.C. "You don't want to get caught up in trying to stop or erase your thoughts, because the harder you try, the harder it is. Relax, allow your thoughts to happen, and just observe them." Brantley suggests that you accept and acknowledge your racing mind--try saying to yourself, "The chattering mind is still here"--to get the distance and perspective you need to disengage with your thoughts and let your mind come to rest.
Another way to focus your attention is to practice mindful breathing. When you find yourself moving away from the present moment, concentrate on your breath: Inhale deeply, then slowly release. Try counting each breath, or pick a word like life or love and utter it in your mind with each breath for about 15 seconds. Recognize that each breath is a new experience, says Brantley, just as the conversations and occurrences around you are new each day.
A talkative mind can also keep you from being present in your daffy life, whether it's at your desk, at your son's baseball game, or out on a date. Being distracted by thoughts about the past and future wastes energy and diminishes enjoyment. All you have is the here and now, so practice living in it.
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