Over the course of a day, we have thousands of thoughts. Some of them are clear and we can almost “hear” them in our head. Others come and go without us even knowing. Both have an impact on the way we feel and the way we respond to our environment.

Stopping those thoughts isn’t an easy process and can often lead to more frustration than progress. However, there are a few ways to quiet and retrain your brain.

Research shows that trauma responses often come from negative thoughts that get stuck in our brain and create pathways to negative thinking. If we can retrain those thoughts, then we can eliminate the negative thoughts and instead fill up our brain with positive or at least neutral thoughts.

The first recommendation I’d offer is to move your body. Yes, move your body to quiet your mind. When we exercise, our brains create an increased number of neurotransmitters such as endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin. These by their nature fill our brains with happy and healthy emotions, which can impact similar thoughts.

Exercise also rids our brain of the unhealthy and negative chemicals, which can make us feel sad and stressed. The American Council on Education recommends 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise 3-6 times a week, as well as strength training twice a week.

You’ve worked out and your thoughts are still swirling, now what? Take a look at what you are consuming.

Not just food, but also your relationships, conversations, social media, news and other outside influences. If we fill our minds with negative content, then we will have nothing else to think about than negative things.

Consider setting screen limits for yourself, choose your news wisely and evaluate your relationships. Not all relationships can be eliminated from our lives, but the ways in which we interact with people in our lives can be changed.

If we fill our minds with negative content, then we will have nothing else to think about than negative things.

Self-care is essential to brain health. Taking time (even just 10 minutes) away can help to recharge you and quiet your mind.

Meditation can make lasting changes to your brain, which lead to quieter minds, healthier thinking, and less stress. Try an app such as Calm or Headspace to help learn how to meditate.

Journaling is also a great way to process thoughts. Consider a download and an upload.

What do I mean by that? Choose a colored pen and write any negative thoughts on a piece of paper. Ponder them. Then, with a different colored pen, re-write the thoughts to be more helpful and realistic. Finally, read and reread them to upload them to your brain.

It is also vitally important to realize that it is okay to not be okay. The providers at our practice are available to be a sounding board – to help you process your thoughts, make sense of them, and retrain your brain.

You deserve a quieter mind, less stress in your life, and a happier outlook. What are you waiting for?

Contact Hope and Healing Psychotherapy today to begin your healing journey.

Jennifer Voorhaar, LCSW-C
Jennifer Voorhaar is the owner of and therapist at Hope and Healing Psychotherapy, LLC. Having a therapist with a heart to heal is an important place to start. While her focus is on helping children, adolescents, and adults recovering sexual trauma and other forms of abuse, Jennifer has a strong background in working with diverse populations with a variety of needs. With over 17 years serving the mental health needs of the community, she has worked with veterans and military families, young children, teens and older adults. Her passion is helping people recover from trauma. Jennifer started her own practice to be able to better serve the community longterm and to be able to focus on the work she enjoys professionally. Her office is a safe place where you can share any thoughts, feelings, or fears you face. Nothing will shock her, and you will always feel supported. If the office setting isn’t for you, we can lace up your shoes and walk (or jog) around the streets of Leonardtown. Jennifer’s top priority is making you feel comfortable.