Shut Off the Mental Chatter

Do you ever find yourself laying in bed or sitting at a stop light and realize that you’re brain is full of useless mental chatter?  No, I don’t mean that you hear voices in your head….. I mean you are subconsciously thinking about random things that don’t actually matter for no apparent reason.  And it’s distracting.  

Well I do. Our lives are so busy, we have so much to do, and so much we haven’t gotten around to doing, so much we wish we were doing….. it’s overwhelming the thoughts that most of us are trying to organize in our own heads.  And sometimes we are so busy with the nonsense that we miss out on our tangible lives.  

So I challenge you do one or all of the following things to try to shut off the chatter.  

1. Delete your social media apps. Maybe not delete, but forget they exist for a while. 

And yes I do mean this to include Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, Instagram and Reddit. 

Gasp!!!!!! Hear me out.  If you’re anything like me, you find yourself reaching aimlessly for you phone about 100+ times a day. Whether you’re bored, or it’s a commercial break, or you’re waiting in line for something…. your “go to” time gap filler is checking social media.   

But let me ask you this….. WHY? Sure, you have a few close friends or family that you like seeing updates on but do you really care that your classmate from 8th grade took another random selfie in the car? Does it affect you that someone you worked with 10 years ago checked into a hotel in San Antonio?  Are you really going to make that recipe for Honey Glazed Mango Chicken wings that you spent 5 minutes watching?  Most of you would answer no.  

Studies have proven than when we go on social media one of two things happen.  We experience a moment of joy or happiness from what we see or we experience a moment of sadness or jealousy.  So if we are exposing ourselves to those emotions dozens of times a day through life experiences that aren’t our own….. how does that effect our mental chatter?  

Social media isn’t real people.   Take a break from it.  And if you really want to know what someone is up to just call or text them.   And if you don’t have a way to reach them that isn’t through social media, then how significant can they be in the grand scheme of things? 

2. Turn To Do Lists into Done Lists

We have all lost countless ours of sleep laying in bed making mental To Do Lists.   From remembering to renew your license place to swearing to clean out the same closet for 3 years, we all have things we need to do and things we wish we had time to do. 

Then we wake up forgetting about it for a while. The day goes on and we add more and more things to that mental list, and somehow we lose track of some of them along the way.  So our mental chatter becomes not only the list itself, but a run down of trying to remember what we forgot.  

I challenge you to carry around actual pen and paper and write down those things…. and then actually do them.   Hey, you’ll have plenty of free time since you won’t be on social media…. should be a piece of cake. Right?  But seriously, you will be surprised how much of that running chatter clears out when you mark stuff off that list.   

3. Make a Plan and Stick To It

Again, we are all busy.  Even when the To Do Lists start getting done, there are so many other parts of life that we go through daily that cause mental chatter.  

There are many tools at our disposal to help us plan for daily life, but if you’re like me, often times good plans and intentions fall by the wayside after about a week.  But if you can find the willpower to stick to a plan….. you’ll find the mental peace that coencides.   

For example…… (warning this is where my ambitions OCD and Organizing issues come to light). Marker board calendars with color coded post its for each family member and their activities.   Posted in a central location.  Meal prep a week at a time (menu to be included on said calendar).  Use hanging shoe rack to pre-select clothes for each kid, for each day of the week.  No searching for socks at 6 am. Set alarms on your phone to tell you when something needs to be done on your calendar. Assign days for specific chores around the house and make sure they actually get done.  (Again…. said calendar)  Anyway…. you get it.   Plan and repeat.  

No matter what, we will always have a running internal dialog.  However, eliminating pieces of it that can consume us, things we can control, makes that dialog a little less stressful.   
Want more ideas? Read this article about Taming Your Monkey Mind. 


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