How to Still The Mind: 7 Calming Techniques without Meditation

calming outdoor image

I know this is going away from my usual topics on this blog, but calming techniques seem just as relevant. For a few reasons: 1. We all get overwhelmed sometimes. 2. It’s hard to practice tarot, runes, or anything else if our mind is bouncing all over the place. So these are simple ideas on how to still the mind!

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These ideas may be similar to what you’ve seen before, but others are ones that personally work for me into tricking my mind to calm down.

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I know everyone talks about meditation getting easier after practicing, but I often get panicked during meditation and it increases my heart rate. Same with breathing exercises! These are some ideas that work for me year round that help with calming me down instead of meditating or taking deep breaths.

*This post is meant to act as a guide, not as the only tool you can use. It is not a substitute for professional help. Don’t hesitate to seek further assistance from a professional to work through trauma.

1. Smell Some Lavender

lavender in a white pot

The first suggestion for how to still the mind is fairly simple and takes less than 30 seconds. Smell lavender! This could be in live plant form, dried lavender, a candle, essential oils, or even a bath bomb with the scent. It doesn’t matter, as long as it’s lavender.

There was actually a study done published in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience that found by smelling lavender, it does reduce anxiety. Being surrounded by the scent of lavender is super easy if you want to wear lavender perfume or use a drop of lavender essential oil.

It’s also fairly easy to grow lavender indoors, and then you can easily run the leaves through your fingers and smell the lingering scent on your hand and come back to it whenever you need.

2. Watch a Candle

fernweh candle

Watching a candle flicker is mesmerizing. This is another really simple method for how to still the mind. Light a candle, and watch the flame dance. Follow the flame with your eyes for at least a minute.

Try to focus your attention on the candle and just watch it, not worrying about anything else. You can also have some music on in the background if you’d like! This just forces your mind to stop and pay attention to something.

3. Go Outside

outside ocean and trees

When I say go outside, I mean go outside. Without any electronics. Try to be out for at least 5 minutes. And try to be active during these minutes, by doing a short walk, or a short bike ride, or even a few jumping jacks.

It’s great to just be outside with the fresh air, but being active out really flips a switch. This doesn’t have to be a long period of activity. If you can give yourself 5 minutes, it’s enough.

I know when I’m stressed I feel that I don’t have time for anything. Everything must be done right now and I can’t step away even for a second.

But that feeling is false! That is anxiety talking. The biggest way to break that anxiety is by forcing yourself to step away. And going outside is really helpful because you are getting away from the stressors, can breathe in fresh air, and will likely come back feeling better and probably be more focused than before!

my rune journal

4. Exercise

simple exercise equipment

How to still the mind idea #4 is to exercise. Personally, I like following along to a workout that’s high energy where I almost have to struggle to keep up. This way I’m too busy to think about anything else, and I purposely get my heart rate up.

Things like running and stretching are great for some people to still the mind. But for me, my mind is under-used, so negative thoughts fly in. Then I just give up exercising and feel even worse than when I started.

Recently, I’ve been doing Popsugar Fitness 30 minute videos on YouTube, and they’ve been the best I’ve found in a long time. They have a wide variety, but I like the ones with a lot of movement and changing exercises quickly.

Because I’m doing the workouts at home, I don’t have to worry about looking like a fool in front of other people or worry about not doing everything perfectly!

If you don’t have 30 minutes to work out, try just doing jumping jacks for a minute, or pretend jump rope. Anything to get you moving!

5. Shuffle Cards

This is one of my favorite methods for how to still the mind. Especially if I’m about to do a tarot reading or just need to take a break. You can do the traditional shuffling like you would with playing cards, but the method that works even better for calming my mind is to shuffle them into piles.

This is like you’re dealing cards, but instead of dealing, they are just going into different piles in front of you. I’ll shuffle them this way into between 2 to 8 piles. Once I’m done, I’ll put them all back together and repeat until I feel like my mind has cleared.

shuffling tarot cards into alternate decks
(Tarot Cards: Rider Tarot Deck)

Not only will this shuffle your cards really well, it will also cleanse tarot or oracle cards from the energies of previous readings, so it’s ready for another reading! Putting cards into piles forces your mind to focus on where the card is going, and is a simple task that almost resets your mind (and in my head I always count them 1,2,3…1,2,3… as I lay the cards down).

6. Use your Pendulum (Or a Necklace)

This one is essentially my cleansing ritual with a pendulum. If you don’t have a pendulum, this will work just as well with a necklace. All you really need is something hanging from a chain that you can easily hold.

how to hold a pendulum
how to hold a pendulum

Really, this is all about focusing attention and creating a release.

Sit in a comfortable position, hold the chain with your dominant hand so it is dangling about an inch over your other, outstretched hand. Then swing it in a clockwise direction. Focus on stirring up energies. Allow it to come to a natural stop. Then swing the pendulum counterclockwise, with the intention of removing any of the negative energies within you. Finally, swing it in a clockwise direction again, focusing on filling yourself with positive energies.

A part that really helps me with calming my mind during this is I watch the pendulum swinging. It’s a bit hypnotic, and I try to picture in my head the energy releasing.

This takes maybe 5 minutes total, and it’s just an easy way to trick your mind into calming down!

7. Fill Your Mind

Filling your mind may seem like the opposite of stilling the mind, but in some cases this is the only thing that works (for me). Most of the time I would never suggest this as an option, but I think it can be helpful if I’m thrown in extreme anxiety.

I have to fill my mind up with things that don’t matter. And how to do that? I’m suggesting to watch TV. Something simple like HGTV or a cleaning video, or something you’ve watched a million times. Specifically on the device you use most often.

Why I’m suggesting this (and at the bottom) of this how to still the mind list: 1. It fills a screen. 2. It gets your mind focused on something other than what’s going on in your head. So if you’re doomscrolling on your phone, fill the screen with something else. If you have the screen occupied with a show, it immediately stops the availability of scrolling indefinitely (this does require walking away from other screen temptations as well).

Step this Up a Notch

If just watching a show doesn’t stop your mind from thinking too much, do something with your hands at the same time. One way that forces me to stop thinking the best is to crochet and watch tv at the same time. Then my mind is so full that I can’t try and do anything else.

crochet pumpkins

So find your crocheting. It might be coloring, knitting, sewing, cross stitch, wood carving, anything to keep your hands busy at the same time your brain is busy with the TV show.

Your Mind is Focused on Other Things

This is also my trick for falling asleep every night, since the invention of smartphones. I turn on a 20 minute episode of a show I’ve watched many times, turn off auto-play, and listen to the sound of the characters, with the volume as quiet as I can.

I know that you’re not supposed to use your phone that close to sleeping, but if I don’t do this, my head fills with anxieties and everything I’ve ever done wrong and there’s no way I’m sleeping anytime soon. If I have a show playing for background noise, I usually (95% of the time) fall asleep within the episode length. If I don’t, I’ll be up for hours.

So by having my mind occupied by something else while I’m trying to relax, I’m tricking my brain to turning off, and stilling.

I hope these ideas on how to still the mind have been helpful! I know some of these aren’t typically suggested, but they are what works for me.

Do you have any other calming techniques that work for you that aren’t meditation? Let me know on Instagram @moonofgemini!

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An idea on how to still the mind is to smell lavender! The scent is calming and will reduce stress. Find 6 other ideas here!
Some simple short term stress management ideas, in not a lot of time!
Simple ideas to still the mind, including using a pendulum and shuffling tarot cards!