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How to Slow Down Your Mind

For me, the second semester seemed to kick off right as I was just starting to relax. Especially during this year, when the schedules and plans we made almost always fell through, I feel like I needed more time to recenter myself. Unfortunately, the academic calendar doesn’t stop for anybody. Through these busy days, I’ve realized the value of doing small things throughout the day to slow down my mind instead of waiting until my tipping point comes. Sometimes, I feel like the only thing that can help me is a vacation to some tropical beach, but that will not be happening any time soon. Doing small things throughout the day makes the days more manageable and seem like less of a chore. These are some of my favorite strategies.

  1. 1. Delete Social Media

    This is definitely one that I grapple with. The amount of times I’ve deleted and redownloaded apps like TikTok or Instagram is too many to count… and kind of embarrassing. What I have learned from going back and forth on the apps, however, is that they clutter my mind more than I’d like to admit. Trying to fall asleep or focus on work while snippets of trending TikTok songs are racing through my brain is almost impossible. Deleting these apps cleans my slate and makes the thoughts in my brain seem more like my own. Even if you’re not ready to delete them altogether, try to avoid using them right before bed and see how it feels!

  2. 2. Guided Meditation or Slow Breathing

    Confession: I am horrible at meditating. Not everyone is, though, and it is proven to be extremely helpful at clearing your mind and slowing down your body. What’s helped me start to practice meditation successfully is just doing a few minutes at a time. I also always use a guided meditation (I find them on YouTube) to help me learn. When meditating seems too time-consuming, or when you’re in the middle of something important, taking a few deep breaths can do wonders.

  3. 3. Find Your Playlist!

    I used to think that I could never study or work with music, but then I realized I was listening to the wrong types of songs. When I’m listening to my favorite songs, I only think about the words and sing along in my head. What really helps me focus is listening to instrumental songs or new songs that I haven’t heard yet. I love listening to Spotify playlists like “Deep Focus” and “Your Favorite Coffee House” because they really help me dial in.

  4. 4. Clean Your Space

    “Clean space, clean(er) mind." Taking some time to make your bed, cleaning off an area of your floor, or organizing the top of your desk can do more than you’d think. It’s hard to feel calm and in control in an overwhelming environment.

  5. 5. Write Lists

    I write so many lists, but you have to find what works for you for them to be helpful! I like making a daily to-do list and a weekly to-do list. I also really like putting appointments or important assignments into the “Reminder” app on my phone. I’ve found that writing my tasks and appointments down helps me calm down, feel secure in what I’m completing, and takes away my worries of missing something important.

  6. 6. One Step at a Time

    When a day, a week, or a month feels like it’s shaping up to be too much, you know it’s time to slow down (even when it feels like you need to speed up!). I am incredibly prone to worrying about assignments and events way in advance, which is a recipe for mind-clutter. Think about your day one step at a time— no need to worry about step 3 before you’ve even gotten to step 2! Taking things as they come, and trying to slow down your mind in the process, will make everything seem much less overwhelming.

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