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How to Quiet Your Mind

Finding ways to reduce your stress levels will increase your happiness. Sometimes distracting yourself isn’t enough to quiet your mind. Sometimes you need stronger measures to eliminate, or at least slow, those unwanted and stress-producing worries and concerns.

Perhaps you have an upsetting worry that continually intrudes into your thinking and keeps you from enjoying a pleasant evening with friends. Or maybe you’re trying to fall asleep and the thoughts racing around in your head make sleeping impossible. You recognize that there is nothing you can do about your worry and that your worrying is only making things worse.

A technique called Thought Stopping can be very useful. It is an effective way of not only keeping worries and upsets temporarily out of your mind, but it is also effective in weakening those thoughts, and making it less likely that they will return.

Here are the steps you need to take to get this technique to work for you:

  1. Notice your thoughts.

    When a worrisome thought runs through your mind, mentally step back and recognize that it is an unwanted thought. It may be a worry, a nagging concern, or a regret — anything that you feel is not worth the stress at this particular time.

  2. Find a stop-sign.

    In your mind, picture a red and white octagonal stop sign, you know, the kind you see on the street corner. Make your sign large and vivid.

  3. Yell, “Stop!”

    In your head, silently shout the word STOP to yourself.

  4. Do it again.

    Every time the worrisome or unwanted thought reappears, notice that thought, imagine your stop sign, and yell STOP to yourself.

  5. Find a replacement thought.

    Find a thought or image that you can substitute for the distressing thought or image. It can be any thought that is not the one you are trying to weaken.

The image of the sign and the verbal “STOP” will disrupt your thought sequence and temporarily put the unwanted thought out of mind. Be warned, however: It probably will return, and you may have to repeat this sequence again. If your stress-producing thought or image is very strong, it may take many repetitions of this technique to weaken or eliminate it. Stick with it.

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