Modern society has got us in our heads most of the time. We could be relaxing at home or lying in bed while our inner chatter continues to run at full speed: troubleshooting, making plans, re-enacting scenarios and adding to the endless mental to-do list. We all do it, and it takes up a considerable amount of mental output – especially when a large portion of our inner chatter sways towards the negative, increasing tendencies for anxiety and stress. Like a hard drive, your brain computes with less efficiency when over-loaded with information. Creating headspace is essentially giving your mind the chance to breathe and reboot.
Mindfulness author Eckhart Tolle tells us that “worry pretends to be necessary”, as reality is never the same as our projected thoughts. Real solutions come from a state of positive clarity. When we are positive, we are at our highest frequencies, and better able to create success and express love to our fullest potential.
How do we press pause on the inner chatter in our minds? What can we do to allow positive thinking to flow more easily? Below we talk you through steps that will free your mind for more reasoned, compassionate and positive thinking.
6 Steps for Creating More Positive Headspace
1. Nourish your brain
Just as our bodies grow fit and healthy with the right food, our mind also flourishes from the brain food it receives. What does your mental diet consist of? What would you like to feed it more of? Consume mindfully and notice how you feel moments after. Enriched and inspired? Or inadequate and empty? If the latter applies, you might want to re-evaluate your relationship with those mediums. If spending too much time on social media brings up feelings of insecurity, think about placing limits on your screen time. How could you spend the time you have reclaimed? What leaves you feeling happy and energised? We invite you to consider unfollowing accounts that trigger negative feelings within yourself. Use social media to serve you, and curate a feed that inspires and motivates positivity.
2. De-clutter your mind
Our brains are powerhouses of activity, but like well-oiled machines they need periodic rest to function at their best. This includes rest from incessant thinking, planning and worrying. At moments of lull in our day we instinctively reach for any form of distraction: our phones, the TV remote, a book or the refrigerator door for something to eat (you know you’ve been there). Give your mind a break in these moments by simply doing nothing. Observe. Sit. Breathe. Be present in the moment. Notice what’s around you, what do you see, smell and hear? You might start to take in details you would have overlooked, like the colours of the leaves on the trees or a smile from a person holding a door.
3. Create mindful moments
Punctuating your day with moments of awareness, or ‘mini meditations’, will create more space and time for you to think clearly and creatively. You can do them anywhere: at your office desk, in line at the supermarket, waiting for the elevator. Here is one you can do on your daily commute. Whether you’re in a taxi, bus or train, it’s a great practice of blocking out distractions to sharpen your tools for mindfulness.
Headspace for your Daily Commute
Put your phone and any devices out of sight and on mute
Tune out any noises or distractions around you and bring your attention inward. You can have your eyes open or closed
Focus on your breathing, notice the gentle rising and falling of your chest
Become sensitive to the physical sensations you are experiencing in that moment
How is the quality of your breath (shallow, deep)? Do you feel hot/cold? If you are standing up, notice the vibrations under your feet, your muscles activating to keep balance. If you are seated, how does the touch of the seat feel in contact with your body?
If your attention wanders, simply bring it back to focus on your breath and the sensations you are experiencing
4.Tune into your mind
Our mind is like an inner movie reel of thoughts constantly running in the background. They inform our decisions, actions and conscious beliefs, yet we are often oblivious to them. Tune in and listen deeply. Imagine your positive thoughts are blue in colour, and negative thoughts are red. What does your mental landscape look like? Do any thoughts occupy your mind more than others? Do you recognise any inner scripts that play on repeat? Recognise these thoughts without judging yourself and bring awareness to how they play out.
5. Put pen to paper
The act of writing things down is a great therapeutic practice. It can help us to think clearer, opening up space for reflection and more positive thinking. Catch your negative thoughts by writing them down as soon as they arise. Ask yourself: where do they come from? Are they justified? Do they make sense in your life now? What are these thoughts telling you? Where can you take action and shift from old thought patterns to a new positive outlook? Seeing things written down will help you to get a clearer view of your mental landscape. With increased awareness, you’ll start to recognise your trigger points and thinking patterns easier.
6. Be your own hype girl/boy
Now that you’ve become aware of how your mind ticks, you can create more positive, healthier scripts to guide you. Scientific studies prove that positive thinking improves brain cognition and increases levels of happiness. Try this simple trick of bringing a smile to your mind, or thinking about a person who you care about and notice how it instantly lifts your mood.
When you notice a negative thought arising, acknowledge that it is there (allow it to come to the surface). Counteract the downward spiral by giving yourself positive messages of encouragement. If this feels unnatural to you, imagine you are speaking to your best friend. What would you tell them to give them a boost? What are all the things that are so great about them? You could write your positive messages on post-it notes and place them on your mirror or somewhere you’ll see them every morning.
Creating positive headspace is a practice that takes time and continued attention. As well as the above steps, you can cultivate a balanced mental environment through mindful relaxation, exercise and regular meditation – such as Metta (Loving Kindness) meditation, an age-old Buddhist practice that nurtures positive emotions for yourself and those around you. Make sure to keep these practices up – especially at times where you feel vulnerable or low – and you’ll soon start to expand your capacity for a more reasoned, compassionate and positive headspace.