“How do I train my body and mind to relax?

Submitted Request..

This post is an answer to a submitted question. It aims to provide help and solutions to overcome the issue.

Podcast version: HERE

Submitted Question:

"How do I train my body and mind to relax?

How do I train my body and mind to relax and be more present instead of feeling like I always need to be doing something?

I am constantly in this mode of planning, thinking, analyzing, listing all the things I need and want to do and feeling overwhelmed and thus tired. It doesn't help that all the things are on the same list, even with varying importance or urgency, I still plan to do it all eventually.

I find myself in this mode all of the time, even in a bath or a massage that's supposed to be relaxing. I don't even watch TV because I feel like I should be more productive. I don't think this is anxiety. It feels like my personality. I want to be able to be more present and connected with myself and life and others."

My Response if we were in a coaching setting. Although without being able to ask questions I may assume or use scenarios to fill in the gaps.

I can see this is important to you.

People do not decide their futures. They decide their habits and their habits decide their future.

Many of us live in a fast-paced society where being constantly busy and productive is highly valued. Apps, social media, and other things are training our brains to go faster and shorten our attention spans. Most of us are always on the go, planning, analyzing, and making lists of things we need to do. This can leave us feeling overwhelmed, tired, and disconnected from ourselves and others. If you find yourself constantly feeling the need to be busy and struggling to relax, you are not alone.

I like how you started off wanting to train your mind, and that's where it's at.

Currently, there's a habit in place that has you busy busy busy it seems. A constant need to be doing something is a common trait among driven and motivated individuals. However, it's essential to recognize that it's not just the act of keeping busy that leads to positive and powerful action. It's about understanding the underlying motivations and purpose behind the tasks we choose to undertake.

We often overlook our desires and passions to prioritize tasks based on their urgency or importance. Over time, we can feel trapped and unsatisfied, even though we strive to be productive.

We are thinking, feeling beings.

What this means is you think, then feel then act. If your actions aren't in alignment with what you value and find important, then it's doing the work and going backward. What are the feelings that generate the actions (the endless thinking, analyzing, planning)? This is much easier to see with help from a thinking partner, like me a coach!

Find time and space where you can be at peace, feel safe, have complete silence, and get honest with your thoughts that keep this cycle in place. Become very honest with yourself. Again, it often takes someone else unattached, non bias, someone skilled to listen deeply to your words, the patterns, the stories, of how you're describing your experience around productivity and how being busy serves you in some way.

Various factors can drive the urge to be constantly busy and productive. It may feel like a part of your personality. However, it is important to examine whether this belief, paradigm or story it is truly serving you in a healthy way.

Sometimes, our need to be busy can be a form of avoidance or a way to distract ourselves from uncomfortable emotions or thoughts. It can also stem from societal and family pressures or a fear of missing out.

Habits are breakable.

The first step is awareness, and you've clearly met this head-on. You're aware that it will take a new thought process, mental fitness, I like to call it, and you'll have a new way of doing things.

The feeling of being overwhelmed, tired, urgency, needing to get things done constantly, "I have to be doing something", should-ing yourself, this is a form of pressure or comparison, all of this looming over your head must feel heavy, burdensome. This is diluting what's really at play.

  • What is the change you're seeking?
  • Are you prepared to stop avoiding?

Are you willing to lean in and shift your relationship to these things? (Relationship is a fun way of saying your thinking about it)

We can only change when we face our fears or often said differently, go outside what feels comfortable. It takes inoculation, doing it over and over to give your brain proof it's safe, and also generates a feeling of familiarity.

There's often a belief that we need more information, that's typically not the case. What we need to slow down and connect to our own inner wisdom. We don't find solutions in thinking, analyzing and brainstorming more, we humans get even more lost and confused. We find solutions in a peaceful, quiet still mind.

I sense a need to always be on alert in the submission and a statement that perhaps you believe it's your personality. This is creating in your mind a declaration that this is how you are and you're incapable of changing, learning, growing, evolving or establishing a new habit. I know this isn't a fact. We humans are designed to adapt, mold, grow and change.

When we declare something or label something, our brain starts to find proof that it's true.

Like your submission, there's logic, validation, and evidence to support this claim. What I want to offer lovingly is that this will keep you stuck. Letting go of labels will set you free. Seeing that you're a human being who's adaptable, capable, strong, resilient, and teachable will serve you so much better than a disempowering declaration.

In the submission, there's a belief it's hard to change this pattern. Again this is coming from a heavy, burdensome thought process, what I call left-brain thinking. To access your inner wisdom on what and how to do something it feels good, light, and safe. Your brain will respond and provide you with the answers you seek.

What would happen if you poured all the mental, emotional, and physical energy that's being directed to planning, analyzing and organizing into self-care, self-love, and things that bring a feeling of peace, calm, relaxation, a dream-like state? This is described differently by everyone. Putting down, stepping away from all the lists and things facilitating this stuck state, worry, anxiety, weighing, and measuring. Stepping away and doing things that reassure your brain and nervous system you are safe, you are ok, and feed your spirit with things that connect you to your body—doing things that light up or all five of your senses. Doing things that ground you, have you focused on each moment, being fully present, accessing gratitude and appreciation for yourself and life.

I get the sense you want me to provide a 12-step process, and that's just not going to serve you. That's all over the internet and may have worked for someone, and you are not them. You are uniquely you.

What will empower you is to access your right brain, the creative side of yourself, the compassionate energy, being loving towards yourself, and what's truly important and what you value from an empathetic, quiet state of mind.

Pick one thing you want to do, one that's vital and important to you, and look at your relationship to that thing. Meaning what thoughts and feelings you're having, being transparent, open, curious, and seeing what surfaces when you slow down and see how your thoughts create a feeling and that feeling will generate the action or non-action that follows. This is often hard to do solo and one of many reasons a life coach like me is so helpful. Solo we are often are stuck in justification, rationalizing, and clouded by a wide range of feelings that cloud what is really going on.

Clearly, no one wants to feel negative emotions. So, how do you want to feel? How would you describe it in fine detail so that I could visualize it and see you doing it on a movie screen? The submission states being present, relaxing, and being more connected to yourself and others.

  • What do these look like for you?
  • What do they mean for you in your life?
  • What else?

How would you describe what these would look like in your life, your reality, what actions follow thinking and feeling these words, and what they mean?

Some of us have deeply ingrained thoughts about productivity and what it means to be successful. If you think and believe that rest and relaxation are signs of laziness or that we have to constantly be productive in order to be valuable or worthy. This generates negative, disempowering thoughts, urgency, and pressure-based feelings of do do do . This negative relationship to being productive will undoubtedly lead to burnout.

Feeling like you have to be a certain way to meet or exceed those external to you is in part why you feel disconnected to your body. We can't be present and connected to ourselves and others when our thoughts are focused on external things or, wallowing in the past or anxious about the future. Through daily mental exercises, this habit will fade.

The answers you're looking for aren't in your logical mind. And you are right. It's learning to train your brain, and it's reassuring it that relaxing or however you describe it, is safe and feels good. Our brain won't resist what feels good and familiar. So it's two-fold, not only reassuring your brain this is what you want, it's important to you, it's who you are, being vulnerable by seeing it as safe, feels good and in time with practice, and consistency, it will become familiar, and that's when it shifts to autopilot. It's what you do, and who you are at your core.

I would be curious about your answer if I asked you what I would see if I followed you around for a whole week. What would I witness? What are your habits, rituals, and routines, and how well are you prioritizing those things that show that you value YOUR mental, emotional, and physical health?

If you don't have your health, what do you have?

After many years of working with clients who come to me with similar statements on the verge of burnout, I noticed that they aren't prioritizing these things at all. They are running around with their pants on fire and can't understand why they are so unhappy. Well, me too. That's where I used to be, and I ignored my own needs, ran my body into the ground, and created irreversible damage.

Our brain needs to fully process things before taking on more. Feeling anxious is normal when we aren't resting, recovering, and making our mental, emotional, and physical health a #1 priority.

Slowing down is relatively easy. Like all things start super small, maybe it's a minute today and the rest of the week. Practice. Then next week it might be 2 minutes.. What I am suggesting isn't meditation it's mental exercises, learning to train your brain to be ok with just being. Being in the moment, going inside your body, and noticing your environment through one of your senses for the duration. Feel the good feelings, and notice your body relax.

Be super clear on how you want to feel.

Start prioritizing your mental, emotional, and physical health. If you think it's hard, it will be and not sustainable. IF you believe you are teachable, adaptable, willing to learn, experiment, open, and curious to try new things, well, you'll experience a transformation.

Make small shifts to your daily habits and routines to set yourself up to be the best version of yourself each day and focus on one thing at a time.

I hope this helps. I wish you all the best. Please share this with anyone you believe would benefit from the insights. Post a comment, I read and reply to them all. Thank you in advance!

If you want to send a question, please send to hello@katherine-hood.com please include: 

  • A coachable question (something that addresses what's in your control, your thoughts, feelings or actions.)
  • And context, explain a situation in the past, currently going through, or worries/concerns of the future, giving me some details on your thoughts and feelings about it. 

To learn more about mental fitness go HERE

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