A good friend of mine asked me, “how can we turn off our brain?” In all fairness, the question is totally under brain management which is something I study, practice, and teach.
She was asking me in reference to her partner who works seven days a week and more than twelve hours a day.
I have been processing her question for more than a month now, looking at my own brain for answers.
The way that I see it, is that her partner has harnessed an immense amount of brainpower towards his work. His brain is in super athlete status; on and highly functioning. Maybe even over-functioning.
The off button is what he has not developed.
As I have been building my own business this last year, I have noticed something similar in my own brain. In the beginning, my brain was overwhelmed and confused; working felt hard like the challenges of beginning a new gym workout.
But as I kept putting in the time, working became easier and not working became challenging.
I found myself working in my head while I was with my family, noticing that I was not present.
I was physically playing with my little one, but my mind was processing something with my work.
I was physically tired at night laying in bed but wide awake mentally chewing on something to do with work.
I also noticed a few times where I could not sleep at night because of personal drama going on, like figuring out our flights and how to adapt to COVID this year.
Mental stimulation is real.
And it affects our bodies.
When our mind is turned on, it can be very challenging to rest and even sleep.
All emotions originate in the mind, right?
Our minds have the power to keep us awake at night. Our brain can continue to think and to create hormones in our body like adrenaline and cortisol.
Learning how to turn our minds off, especially in the modern information world, is becoming a necessity.
What I do to turn my brain off:
#1 Schedule time to think and process.
Our brains are taking in an amazing amount of information and data; so deliberately giving our brain the actual time to process the data, problem solve, and make decisions is part of the solution.
I personally love to hike or walk to do this. I schedule two hours at the end of my week to do deeper thinking, zoom out about my business, and process whatever is sitting around in my brain. I ask questions, I listen to my thoughts, I do scans of my body for stress, I observe, and I take notes.
#2 Focus my brain on physical sensation.
In my years of meditation study, I learned how to focus my mind’s awareness on my physical body. Whether it is on the sensation of my breath entering my nostrils, my sit bones on a chair, or the weight of my body on the mattress- this intentional focus of the mind is profound when I need to turn my brain off.
#3 Learn how to talk to my Brain.
Part of our brain is really good at efficiency and automation. Our brain has also evolved to solve problems and look for patterns. But when we know this about our brain we can acknowledge its urge to continue processing information and instruct it to turn off anyway.
If my brain is chewing on a decision and I want to sleep, then I will literally schedule a time to make that decision and tell my brain it has time to continue later. There can be some back and forth before my mind lets go, but this does work.
Distraction is also an option.
Tv, food, entertainment, and substances also help us turn our brain off. And sometimes this works.
But using external things to turn our mind off has 2 downfalls.
- It does not address the brain processing that needs to happen; resulting in information build-up and this takes up extra space in our mind, like clutter in a house.
- We become reliant on something outside of us.
My goal is to be capable of addressing my internal troubles by using my internal resources like mental management. This does mean that I do not watch tv or such; it means that when I watch tv I do so because I want to and not because I need to.