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  • Writer's pictureSarah Covey

Ask A Therapist: On Mental Rest

Q: I can’t seem to settle my mind: I am forgetful, scattered, have difficulty making decisions, and I think about things over and over in my head! How can I get my mind to stop racing?


A: More and more of our therapy clients report that they cannot get their minds to settle down or stop thinking.


They often feel distressed by intrusive thoughts or repeating thoughts and it is hard to cultivate a peaceful mind. They feel distracted or confused and can’t seem to get the clarity they need for themselves in terms of their thinking patterns or their direction in life and relationships.


Sometimes this mental stress can be related to common cognitive distortions but sometimes it is simply that your mind is tired and it needs to rest. (For more information about cognitive distortions from our previous series visit our blog on CoveyWellnessCentre.com) We expect a lot from our minds and can easily overload them with work projects, financial worries, relationship challenges, personal difficulties, care for loved ones, schedule management, and the myriad of decisions that need to be made each day. It’s no surprise that many people feel that they are just on a hamster wheel making no progress when it comes to their mental health. Mental fatigue can be the result of many things but certainly it can be a symptom of simply having too many thoughts to sort through and not enough time or support to do so. Many people feel stuck mentally and long for something to change.


In her book, Sacred Rest (available in the Bookshop), Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith describes mental rest as a place where you sense mental peace and quiet and you don’t have thoughts jumping around. When we are mentally well-rested we can process effectively and make clear decisions. We can know and understand what we think and form our opinions and next steps. We feel calm and collected and we are able to reflect effectively and respond from a sound mind. We can feel safe and able to simply be without thinking.


There are many tools that can be used to help the mind get the rest that it needs. Among the most popular are breathwork, psychotherapy, journalling, time in nature, and meditation (often in the form of mindfulness or prayer). There are several specific strategies within those categories that therapists employ to empower clients to take care of their mental health and there is a growing number of resources online and via apps to help cultivate an experience of greater mental calm.


Mental overload IS exhausting so don’t hesitate to reach out for help if you are finding it difficult to settle and collect your thoughts or to have moments of mental rest in your day. Talk about your struggles with a trusted friend and/or begin to explore some research around mindfulness or breathing techniques. Reach out to a mental health professional trained to help you address this mental fatigue and guide you to a renewed sense of peace and clarity. Don’t underestimate the importance of a well-rested mind. Just like a well-rested body is directly connected to our overall well-being, the health of our minds impacts all aspects of our lives.


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