What To Do When You Feel Your Mind Wandering

When your mind starts wandering, it can be unpleasant. You worry about everything that could go wrong, harming yourself and preventing wellness. 

As such, if you find yourself in this position, it can be a good idea to have strategies in place to prevent it from happening. You should know what to do the moment you notice it. 

But what, exactly, does this look like in practice? Well, you’re about to find out. We look at some strategies you can employ when you feel your mind wandering and how they could help you get it back on track. 

Do Body Scan Meditations

While it might sound strange, doing body scan meditations can be an exceptional way to keep your mind calm and prevent it from wandering all over the place. The idea is actually pretty simple and comes from ancient practices in India and China. 

Body scan meditations begin by lying down and closing your eyes. Then, you move through each part of the body, relaxing it one by one. 

Most practices start at the feet and work their way up to the head before going inside the body. So, for instance, you’d focus on relaxing your toes, then your foot, then your knee, and so on until you get to your scalp. Then, you’d try to relax specific organs or tissues inside the body to go deeper. 

The idea is to slowly get your brain used to the idea of relaxing so you can spend more time in a beneficial brain state (instead of worrying all the time). As you keep up the practice, you’ll notice it becomes more effective. 

Schedule Your Mind Wandering

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If you don’t want to get rid of your mind wandering completely, another option is to schedule it. This way, you limit it to certain hours of the day (and don’t think about it otherwise). 

Some people like to do their mind wandering when they wake up and then be more disciplined as the day goes on to help with their sleep. Others like to do it at night when they feel the most relaxed. 

It really is a personal choice. If doing it every day is too much, then schedule it for once a week (treating it a bit like fast food). Doing everything you can to avoid thinking about it all the time can put you in a better place overall. 

Distract Yourself With Something That Requires Your Mind

Another popular approach is to simply distract yourself with something that requires focus. Committing your cognitive resources to a project can provide relief. 

For example, you might solve the crossword puzzle on the train to work in the morning instead of fretting about what your boss might say about your latest project. Or you might invest your time in learning a musical instrument. Whatever it is, it should require all your cognitive resources. The more brain cells it recruits, the more effective it is likely to be. 

Accept Your Mind Wandering Then Refocus

You can also try a tactic where you accept what’s happening and then refocus. This approach can be great for people who know they have a mind-wandering issue and want to keep correcting themselves. 

For example, you might notice you are ruminating over something that happened in the past. When you catch it, the idea is to accept what’s happening and immediately return your attention to something more productive. 

This approach prevents you from getting into negative habits that seem to spiral downward. It gives you a handle on the situation, allowing you to dig yourself out of the pain zone over time. 

Take Mini Mindfulness Sessions

Taking mini mindfulness sessions is another widespread practice. You can do these anywhere, whenever mind wandering strikes. 

For example, if you notice mind wandering, you might reset yourself with a short meditation practice you can do anywhere. You could also use a guided meditation app to help you if you need extra support. 

Another practice related to mindfulness is to simply recognise when mind wandering happens and write it down. Recording everything lets you look back and see where things were going well for you, and when they weren’t. Then you can use this information to design a better schedule. 

Wrapping Up

Dealing with mind wandering is notoriously challenging and something even the most ardent meditators can struggle with. Fortunately, it is something you can improve over time with regular practice. The more you can focus, the more likely you are to succeed.

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Todd Smekens

Journalist, consultant, publisher, and servant-leader with a passion for truth-seeking. Enjoy motorcycling, meditation, and spending quality time with my daughter and rescue hound. Spiritually-centered first and foremost. Lived in multiple states within the USA and frequent traveler to the mountains.

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