Brain Training Tip: How to STOP a stressed, overwhelmed and busy brain

Posted 28 November

-By Elaine Corcoran, Founder of Brain Training Australia, Perth

An overactive mind is stressful, irritating and exhausting. Did you know that your mind becomes chatty and noisy due to a heightened response to stress and anxiety? A busy mind is not so much the way you are, but rather, it is the result of an overstimulated central nervous system.

So many people come to us because their mind simply won’t slow down or be quiet.  The brain does this due to stress and overwhelm and while it might feel out of your control, rest assured it is not. 

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF STRESS?

The signs and symptoms of stress can be emotional and physical, and can include:

  • An emotional response to trauma, ranging from anger and anxiety to depression
  • A feeling of disassociation about the world or being detached from everything going on around them
  • Mood swings
  • Avoidance of anything association with the traumatic event, for example, being reluctant to get into a car after an accident
  • Nightmares or flashbacks about the event
  • Difficulty sleeping or staying asleep
  • Physical symptoms such as headaches, muscular discomfort and joint pain, stomach complaints such as diarrhoea, irritable bowel syndrome and indigestion
  • Panic attacks

WHAT CAN I DO TO CONTROL MY STRESS AND OVERACTIVE MIND?

There are simple things we can do to help us take control of situations, take control of our thought process and decrease our stress. It starts with finding an awareness. 

When we are aware of what is happening, why it is happening and what we can do about the situation we immediately regain some control.  The STOP technique is an extremely effective way to decrease stress, eliminate unwanted thoughts and to help you focus on the actual cause of stress rather than on the peripheral issues. 

STOP is an acronym that stands for: slow down, take a breath, observe and proceed. It is a very simple technique that can completely change the way your process stress. Here is how to do it, step by step. 

stress overwhelm and busy brain

HOW TO STOP YOUR STRESSFUL THINKING WITH A SIMPLE STOP TECHNIQUE    

S – SLOW DOWN (the key recognising when to slow down is found in how you feel – the signs you need to slow down are: anger, negative thoughts, panic, nausea, tension, etc.)

T – TAKE A BREATH – a few deep breaths changes the chemicals in your brain – you’ll feel the regulation return if you just take a few deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth

O – OBSERVE what is going on with you. Are your shoulders raised, if so, relax them. Is your jaw clenched, if so release it. Anything that feels tense, relax.  Then observe what the issue is – what caused you to feel this way? What can you do and what can you not do about it? What is fact and what is feeling? What can you control and what can you not? What are your choices? What is your responsibility?  What is your goal in this circumstance? How can you reach your goal and still be fair and kind?

(This seems like a lot, but your brain will learn to do all this really quickly)

P – PROCEED. Now that you have taken a minute to gather awareness, proceed in a way that works toward your goal.

HOW DOES THE STOP TECHNIQUE REDUCE STRESS?

The STOP technique reduces stress because it brings awareness to your thoughts and then the ability to take a step back from them. This immediately removes your reactivity and irrationality and gives you the chance to see your thoughts for what they really are. When we are stressed we tend to move quickly, without thinking, which ultimately creates more stress. The STOP technique will help you to break that cycle. 

The technique brings your awareness back to your body and helps you to identify where you are tense and why. As you relax your body and breathe, you create a chemical balance between your CO2 and O2 levels, which enables you to calm down and refocus yourself. The STOP technique will help you to become more proactive in managing your stress. 

The technique, with practise, will raise your emotional intelligence. As you get better at noticing what is happening within you, you will also get better at noticing what is happening around you. When you recognise your own stress response and learn to manage it, you will soon begin to notice the stress response in others. As you walk around your office you will likely see hunched shoulders, tense breathers, pen tappers, room pacers and jaw clenchers. When you notice these things in others, you have a better understanding of what they are feeling, and more compassion in regard to their actions and reactions. 

In addition, by practising the STOP technique you will find yourself with a greater ability to focus, to separate the important things from the unimportant things and to simply get on with what needs to be done. The technique helps you eliminate your ego from your actions and to stay on task with your true goals and desired outcomes. 

WHAT ELSE CAN I DO TO OVERCOME STRESS, OVERWHELM AND A BUSY BRAIN?

Neurofeedback Brain Training man with sensors
Neurofeedback Brain Training to overcome stress and an overwhelmed mind

At Brain Training Australia™ we offer Neurofeedback Brain Training and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to help our clients struggling with stress, overwhelm and busy brains.

Neurofeedback Brain Training measures and analyses the electricity generated by the Central Nervous System and then uses this analyse to provide specific interactive brain training exercises.  Neurofeedback uses real-time displays of brain activity through the use of electroencephalography (EEG), to teach self-regulation of brain function. 

Once the brain function starts to stabilise with Neurofeedback Brain Training, we then work with our clients to integrate Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) into their Brain Training Programs. CBT is a therapeutic approach used to treat and manage problematic thoughts and behaviours and works by helping the client to identify which thoughts and feelings are causing distress, and developing plans to actively challenge these issues. The aim is to teach the client that while the environment cannot change for you, you can change your view of the environment. With this new perspective, the client shall have the tools and methods to now live a positive and healthy lifestyle.

WHY SHOULD I REGULATE MY STRESS RESPONSE?

Over time and with continuous exposure to stress (be it real or perceived), the result of the chemicals and hormones being produced, cause a state of overwhelm, constant thoughts, a feeling that everything is important and an inability to switch off often resulting in poor sleep patterns. These are the tell tale signs of an overstimulated central nervous system response, also known as an overstimulated stress response.

Continued feelings of stress can be very harmful to our physical health as well as our psychological well-being. It enables and encourages unhealthy habits, such as using drugs and alcohol, exercising less often, and becoming socially withdrawn. Stress places the body under immense pressure, unnecessarily.

This continued state of strain and pressure of an overstimulated stress response causes long-term problems including higher risk of heart disease, strokes, ulcers, and other mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression and performance issues such as memory loss, insomnia, procrastination and poor concentration.

stress and sleep issues
An overstimulated central nervous system means an overactive mind and inability to sleep

HOW DO I GET STARTED?

The first step is to get in contact with us and book in for your First Appointment.

This will allow you to experience a session, and see if its the right modality for you. We will also be able to advise you, given your presentation, whether Neurofeedback, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or a combination of both would give you the best result.

The team at Brain Training Australia™ recognise the unique qualities of all our clients and will work closely with you to personalise your Brain Training Program so that you can achieve your goals of optimal mental processes.

We look forward to helping you live a much richer, happier and healthier life, and to stop having a stressed, overwhelmed and busy brain.

Learn more – how we help you to self-regulate a stressed, overwhelmed and busy brain.