7 meditation alternatives to calm a chaotic mind

Friends Taking Photo On Phone In Nature In Summer.

You get anxious sometimes. 

Your mind bounces from idea to idea, and sometimes it seems like you can’t turn it off. 

You desperately want to find a way to calm yourself. And while all your friends and the media rave about meditation, you’re not sure if it’s your thing. 

What meditation alternatives are there? 

Here are 7 activities to consider.

1. Take a forest bath

A what?! 

Seriously, A forest bath is a legit thing.

It basically means you take your ass out into the woods and enjoy the calming effects of mother nature. The Japanese, who coined the term, have a whole mini culture built around the practice, known in Japan as shinrin-yoku.

Personally, I have found being outside in nature to have remarkable effects on my wellbeing. Not only do I feel calmer, but I’ve also noticed suddenly feeling much more awake on days when I’ve felt tired.

Perhaps it’s the fresh air but, either way, being outside in nature once or twice a week is a great way to calm your mind and anxiety.

2. Have a heart to heart with one of your buddies

In a world where we spend more time with digital devices than real humans, we’ve forgotten how calming it is to spill your guts or just have a deep, meaningful conversation with a buddy. 

These days, it’s not uncommon to see people share deep, personal emotions on social media. But I guarantee, you’ll feel much better talking about personal, anxiety-causing issues with a good friend in a face-to-face conversation. 

Hell, you can even throw in some beers to really blow off some steam. 

Either way, a good face-to-face talk with a friend or two will likely leave you feeling more at ease, lighter and happier.  

3. Listen to your Gym teacher or coach—walk it off

There is wisdom in your former gym teacher or coach’s words, once shouted at you after a scuffle with one of your team or classmates. 

Just like you can walk off your anger or a tweak of your ankle, you can also walk off your anxiety. 

When I’ve lived or worked in nice, forested neighborhoods, an evening walk was almost always on the agenda. I found it an incredibly relaxing way to unwind from the day, and its calming effects were similar to an after-work meditation session. 

So give it a try. 

Start a habit of taking a morning or evening walk, for as short as 20 minutes, and see for yourself how it helps ease your worries. 

4. Exercise your demons! 

Feeling stressed, overwhelmed or frustrated? 

Go hit the gym, dude! 

Seriously. Scientists have found that exercise alleviates stress and anxiety.

If you’ve read an Ordinary Dude’s Guide to Meditation, you already know that I suggest using your body as one of your main focal points during meditation. When you shift attention from mental activity to your body, anxious thoughts begin to dissipate. 

Because exercise causes your body to release feel-good chemicals like dopamine and endorphins (among others) you will naturally find it easier to pay more attention to your body—and less to your anxious thoughts—if you exercise often. 

5. Replace your anxious thoughts with a good story (but not just any story)

Kid reading book while sitting next to tree during sunset.

You’ve probably heard people refer to the act of watching movies as “an escape.” 

Rightfully so. 

When you watch a story play out, your worries, frustrations and the responsibilities of everyday life disappear as you absorb yourself in the movie.

You can use a similar tool to calm your chaotic mind. 

No, don’t watch a movie. Instead, drop all your tech devices and pick up a book. Not your Kindle or eReader, but instead a good ole’ fashion paperback or hardback book. Why? Because staring at screens for long hours has been linked to anxiety and depression in young people and too much screen time may also lead to ADHD

Reading a book, however, can have a delightfully calming effect, as your focus isn’t constantly shifting like when you watch a video that has a cut every few seconds. With a book, you focus on one thing, something concrete that isn’t electronic, that can provide a mental escape to another world. 

I often read a book before I go to bed. Not only does it help settle my mind, but it also helps knock me out quickly when I’m ready to sleep. 

6. Be irresponsible and leave home

Sometimes the monotony and responsibilities of daily life can wear on you. Family, work, bills and other adult duties can cause not only anxiety, but also boredom, uneasiness and lack of inspiration.

So, get the hell out of town for the weekend.

Leave your house, leave your work and to-do list behind, and head to the lake, beach or big city with your sweetheart or friends.

I can’t tell you how refreshed I feel after a weekend getaway without having to think about any responsibilities. My head clears, pent up anxiety is unleashed and I feel happy and ready to dive back into my work when I return home. 

I typically take a weekend getaway once every month or two. And I recommend trying this habit for yourself.

7. Cuddle your worries away

Grab your sweetheart, hop on the bed or couch and get a little touchy, feely—without the sexy time. No, I’m not talking about cuddle, to foreplay, to sex. I’m talking about cuddle to cuddle, and that’s it. 

Cuddling has been proven to help ease stress. In fact, there are even businesses in parts of the US that sell cuddling services for just this reason. Basically, you walk into one of these places as if it were a massage parlor (without the happy ending) and cuddle with a complete stranger. It’s completely platonic. 

The reason cuddling works is because our bodies crave human touch. So the next time you’re anxious, don’t reach for an oolong tea, reach for your sweetheart and cuddle your worries away. 

What do these 7 meditation alternatives have in common?

If none of the activities above fit your fancy, not to fear. There is an unlimited number of anxiety-reducing activities available. You can discover them by noticing the pattern all the above have in common. What is that? They all could have been done 2,000+ years ago. 

You’ve probably heard of the paleo diet to lose weight. Think of these as paleo activities to lose your anxiety (yes, I know the paleo time period was 12,000 years ago, but you get the point). 

In other words, if you could do the activity 2,000 years ago, there’s a good chance it will likely have a calming effect on you—there was no technology then. And don’t get me wrong, I love my iPhone and Netflix as much as the next dude, but I also think there is a huge downside to technology that pushes us further away from connecting with real people and the natural world. 

So temporarily ditch the screen and electronics, and I’m sure you’ll start to find plenty of meditation alternatives to ease your anxiety.

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