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Calm your mind chatter – Tips for staying calm, cool and relaxed

Have you ever seen those old cartoons where a character has a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other, and doesn't know which one to listen to? We all do it. Our inner voices veer between positive and negative, between useful and unhelpful. Add the fact that we're hard-wired to focus on negatives, an ancient survival mechanism, then take the pandemic into account, and you can understand why negative mind chatter is driving so many of us to distraction right now!  

We thought it'd be useful to take a look at mind chatter, and explore how to free yourself when it gets too much. The goal isn't to shut your mind chatter off completely, it's to control your inner voice and transform it into one of your greatest strengths. 

When it's in good shape your inner voice innovates, creates alternatives pasts, and suggests thrilling futures. It's your very own imagination engine, and that's actually really exciting. 

Mind chatter is perfectly normal until... 

Problems arise when your normal stream of consciousness goes into negative overdrive. A 'chatter spiral' happens when you can't stop rehearsing the same things over and over without coming to a useful solution. You have slipped into a loop of constant negative thoughts. It's very hard to think straight and perform well because your focus is totally devoted to that nagging inner voice. 

You might think it's useful to go over and over and over something in your mind to achieve clarity, but all you're doing is cranking up the stress for no good reason. If the subject gets so entrenched that you end up talking to yourself out loud, it can be disturbing for others. If things get so intense that you don't physically hear what other people are saying because you're too involved in talking to yourself, the people you love can find it very hard to handle. 

When we're stuck in a negative groove it can affect our relationships. When you constantly talk about your problems in a negative way it pushes people away. You might lash out at someone you love because your mind has got itself stuck in such a negative rut that everything and everyone starts to feel like a problem, and nothing about life feels right.  

If your inner voice keeps looping around a negative theme, here are some tips around how to notice what's happening and get your self back onto a happier, more helpful track.   

Consciously noticing when you're 'catastrophising' 

It's useful to be conscious of what your inner voice is doing. Try to notice as you ruminate, worry, and turn everything into a catastrophy, obsessed over the past or worrying about the future. Logic helps, too. It's useful to consciously accept that worrying about the past is pointless because the past is done and dusted, and worrying about the future is equally pointless because it doesn't exist yet and we can't predict it anyway! 

About distanced self-talk 

Some people do something called 'distanced self-talk'. Some go for a walk, others get out into nature, enjoy exercise, even do housework. But your best tool is language, humanity's most powerful way to coach ourselves and overcome problems. 

The professionals recommend talking to yourself as you would talk to someone else, using 'you', 'he' or 'she' in what's called 'distanced self-talk'. It works by giving you mental space, distancing you from your problems so you can give yourself constructive advice on handling the thing that's bothering you, providing an instant jolt that changes your perspective. Apparently it works because we're so very familiar with using those words when we talk about other people. 

Children use this method a lot. They do it completely instinctively, and it's called the 'Batman Effect'. Imagining you're a superhero and asking yourself what they would do in your situation helps externalise the issue, guiding yourself through the problem with ease and confidence. It's a powerful linguistic device that helps us create meaning from negative experiences by normalising them. 

Harnessing the magic of nature 

Being at one with nature has a surprisingly strong positive effect on our inner voice. Nature recharges us by distracting our attention to interesting yet simple, easy-to-understand, beautiful things. The more immersive the natural experience is, the better we feel. 

Awe is magical, too. The feelings of awe we get from gazing at the night sky or a stunning view makes us feel smaller, and less important, which gives us a much more realistic sense of perspective and balance. 

Practising mindfulness and meditation 

Mindfulness is a buzz-word these days, and for a very good reason. Being aware – being mindful – of your inner state, your emotions and your mind's reactions to them, is a great way to help keep things in perspective. Meditation can also have a wonderful soothing effect, bringing you back to 'the moment', the present, the place where all is well, unless you actually happen to be in a sinking ship or falling out of an aeroplane at the time! 

The astonishing power of words 

Neural Linguistic Programming or NLP involves changing the words you use to describe your experiences, and it's surprisingly powerful. When you frame your experiences in negative terms, that's how they will feel. Change them around and describe your experiences with positive words and things suddenly feel a lot less worrying. 

NLP lets you remove self-imposed limitations, choose how you feel and how you react to those feelings. The challenge is to talk to yourself in a helpful way, using positive language to deal with problems without getting stuck in a mind chatter loop. No wonder Psychology Today magazine calls NLP, “arguably the most powerful behavioural science on the planet today”, and Science Digest calls it  “the most powerful vehicle for change in existence.” 

Soothing mind chatter with Lavender 

Relaxation matters. When you feel calm, cool, and chilled, the chatter calms right down, and that's where our fabulously luxurious Lavender Eye Pillow comes in. Available in a series of stunning subtle colour-ways, it comes with its own pretty storage bag. And it's much more than a pretty face! 

Our eye pillow is made from luscious 100% Dupion silk, perfectly weighted with real Lavender flowers and organic seeds, and it feels beautifully cool and soothing. When you place it over your eyes it stimulates the acupressure points for clarity and calm, making you feel instantly soothed and sleepy. That's why lavender is used for shavasana in Yoga, the part where you empty your mind. 

Lavender brings positive physical changes when you're struggling with anxiety and stress, activating the parasympathetic nervous system responsible for bringing you into a relaxed state. It can improve your vital signs, bringing down your blood pressure and heart rate, which explains why its also good at easing depression and stress. It has even been found to help with anticipatory anxiety, the worry you feel when you're anticipating something you think isn't going to be pleasant. 

Breathing the lovely spicy scent of lavender calms us when we're in acute or chronic pain, containing anti-inflammatory, pain reducing compounds like linalyl acetate and linalool. They calm the pain cells in the spinal cord that send signals to the brain. Linalool can also suppress acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter that makes our muscles contract. 

It's also interesting to know that pain tends to feel worse when you haven't slept well. Lavender's calming properties promote lovely sleeps, improving sleep's quality and the quantity. The scent of lavender at bedtime slows your heart rate, lowers your blood pressure, relaxes your mind, and the great sleep you enjoy means pain is less of a problem. 

Wishing you calm, peace and happiness 

Whatever happens, whatever life brings your way, it's possible to control your inner chatter so it benefits you in all sorts of ways rather than bringing you down. We wish you calm, peace and happiness.

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