Man doing yoga on a hill overlooking a town

You need to chill out – and here are 3 pro tips to get you there

As we enter the third year of the pandemic, it can be harder to find a moment for ourselves to practice mindfulness and navigate through what can be a challenging time for many. 

We sat down with clinical psychologist and mindfulness expert, Emily Toner, to share her 3-step guide to quietening internal chatter. 

Step 1 – Recognising a wandering mind 

The first step to quieting internal chatter is actually just becoming aware of it in the first place. Research suggests that for up to half of our day, we’re not truly paying attention to our external surroundings, or listening to what’s going on internally (Killingsworth et al, 2008). That’s half our life we’re missing out on! 

Becoming aware of this habit requires self-reflection. For me, if I’m feeling average but don’t really know the cause, I have to pause and ask myself, ‘what was I just thinking?’. 

Oftentimes, when we feel discomfort it can be due to a judgemental thought we’ve recently inflicted on ourselves, or because we’ve been caught up in worry or rumination. 

Step 2 – Being present in the moment 

The second step in quietening internal chatter involves analysing the constructiveness of thoughts. After taking the time to pause and become mindful of our thoughts, we then have to ask ourselves, ‘are these thoughts helpful?’, ‘are they assisting me in having the day, or life that I want?’. 

If our thoughts are inhibiting us from feeling our best, we have to unhook from them and return to the present moment. Grounding, meditative exercises that focus on what we’re hearing, seeing, smelling and feeling can be beneficial to welcoming the present moment. A great example of this is a Puppy Meditation class I conducted recently, as part of the Medibank Live Better program. Comparing our internal chatter to high-energy puppies, we use the same meditation tools to be more mindful and present in the moment. 

Step 3 – Combating negative thoughts 

Step three asks us to really decipher our internal chatter. In reality, not all internal chatter actually needs to be quietened – some mental chatter could use some boosting and support. Our inner self-compassionate coach can be elevated by recognising positive thoughts despite the noise. 

To practise this, I like to take a minute to breathe and connect with eight thoughts in that moment, thoughts that feel more helpful. In everyday life we can offer similar thoughts to a friend in need,

such as, ‘you’re doing your best’, ‘you can do this’, ‘well done, it’s going to be okay’. This exercise prompts us to encourage ourselves in the same way as we would for others. 

Taking a moment to stop and practise these steps, even if just once a week, can help in retraining your brain to lean further into self-compassion and presentness. 

Emily Toner meditating

This content was provided as part of the Medibank Live Better at Home Program and its ambassador, clinical psychologist and mindfulness expert, Emily Toner.

This is general information. It is not health advice and it is not tailored to meet your individual health needs. You should consult a trusted health professional before determining whether this xactivity is suitable for you.

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