Do you ever feel like you just can’t get your mind to turn off?
Moms often have a hard time turning off or tuning out the voice that runs through their head constantly. How often do you find your mind swirling with:
- Worries about your kid(s)
- Thoughts about what you need to do today (or tomorrow, or next week, next month…you get the point)
- Reflection about things that have happened previously and how you could have handled them differently
- Lyrics to those annoying songs your kids love
- What ever else you need to be doing at this exact moment
Moms often find themselves managing their own lives, their kids and family’s responsibilities, and possibly work demands as well. It’s no surprise that it can be hard to quiet our minds with everything we have going on.
And if you’re anything like me, these thoughts tend to be loudest and busiest right before bed. This makes sense because we’ve finally slowed down enough and we don’t have 101 things happening in front of us to deal with. So now, those 101 things in our head can come to the surface. When this happens, you may feel like you want to turn your mind off and that is hard to do! Learning how to control your thoughts is a skill that can be learned.
One way to help control your thoughts is with a thought-stopping cue
A thought-stopping cue is a reminder to…yep- you guessed it: stop your thoughts. For example, when your mind is racing, you might use the cue “stop.” You’d say it in your head, with a commanding voice (kind of like the voice you use when you want your kids to stop what they’re doing, and so that they know you mean business). The idea is that when you tell yourself “stop” it reminds you that you don’t need to be thinking about all of those ideas right now.
The cue I came up with about a while back is D.W.I.L. which stands for Deal With it Later. Some nights I have to repeat this a few times before my mind really shuts off. “DWIL” works well for me because it reminds me that now is not the time to think about whatever is going through my mind, but there will be time later.
This particular cue helps me know that I don’t need to ignore these thoughts entirely but instead, I can revisit them at a later point in time. I also use this when I’m focusing on something that really shouldn’t be my focus in that moment. For example, when I’m playing with my kids, but find myself thinking about work, I tell myself “DWIL.” It doesn’t always work 100%, but it helps quite a bit.
Create your own cue to manage your thoughts
Think about what you might want your cue to be and give it a try. One point to keep in mind it can be hard just to make your thoughts stop, even with a cue. They tend to come back up if we don’t find something else to focus on. So, what should you focus on? Focusing on your breathing can be a great choice for after we use our thought-stopping cue.
If you want more information on breathing correctly, check out this post about helping your kids calm down– the same idea applies for us. So when those thoughts begin to swirl, you want to tell yourself to stop (or use your own cue) and then focus on your breathing. Using your cue and focusing on your breathing, will also likely help you more easily focus on one idea at a time.
Keep in mind that even with these two steps, you may find the thoughts come back. This is very normal and over time, and with consistent use, your cue will get stronger and you’ll be able to maintain your focus on your breathing for longer, allowing you to to feel more mentally calm.
In Part 2, we talk about more ideas for turning your mind off when you want to. Take the time to come up with your thought-stopping cue and use it when you need to. If you need to give yourself a reminder, think about putting a note in your phone, or a sticky note where you’ll see it.
Once you’ve decided on your cue, feel free to share what it is and how you’re remembering to use it.
Posts and information on Get Mom Balanced are educational in nature and are not meant to be a substitute for professional medical or mental health advice, diagnosis, treatment or care. If you have medical or mental health-related concerns, contact your personal health care provider without delay. See full disclosure for more information.