Let’s look at the chaotic mind as opposed to the fully panicked mind. Chaos usually comes before the panic sets in. When my mind heads toward chaos, I feel like there’s a lot of information passing through me, none of it sticking, none of it organized, and little to none of it is memorable. I envision chaotic thoughts as “chopped up” into jagged pieces. A chaotic mind feels busy, but nothing is getting done. It’s the opposite of a serene mind. Our minds don’t hit the chaos stage unless we’re worried, overburdened, or too often interrupted. Mindfulness is a great antidote to those states.
One technique I use to calm my mind is the practice of reciting a mindful mantra. A mantra does not need to be complex. For me, it’s simply repeating the words “slow down,” or “calm.” You can’t just say it once. You repeat the word while drawing your attention inward. If I’m needing to break a logjam in my actions, I can switch my mantra to something more specific. Mindfulness is useful here because it helps us step out of the whirlwind and observe our thoughts instead of being caught up in them.
Another way to get some calm in our thoughts is to seize “action messages” out of our mental whirlwind and hang on to them. Mental chaos tends to be fragmentary, without entire thoughts, but if we can identify something we can do instead of worry over, then we can quiet a bit of chaos by achieving that one item, even if it’s nothing huge. Sometimes just getting one small thing done is enough to help us start slotting thoughts in order.
A final quick fix is to draw attention to our bodies. How’s our breathing? Are we steadily drawing in deep breaths while exhaling just as deeply? If not, we must start. Immediately. Panic attacks often evolve from a chaotic mental state if we don’t have a good oxygen to carbon dioxide balance. Deep, slow breathing helps slow our thoughts by slowing both our heart rate and respiration.
Slowing down, and paying attention to how we are feeling allows us to pay attention to our breathing, and slow things down before they progress to shear panic. Remember, that it doesn’t take much to quiet down a chaotic mind, just pay attention to your breath, and repeat some calming mindful mantras. You can do both of these things within minutes and quite your mind to be more productive and calm through whatever else you need to get done during the day.
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