Keeping a Clear Mind to Decrease Stress and Improve Sleep

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Most people have struggled with racing thoughts at least once in their lives, some more so than others. Too often, days are spent rushing.

We are constantly ten steps ahead of the present moment and our minds are filled with “to do’s” and “what if’s.” No matter how far down the checklist we get, there is always more to worry about.

Unfortunately, this mindset keeps us stressed out and tense, with no time to relax and take a breath. It even infiltrates our sleeping moments, keeping us up all hours of the night, perpetuating the vicious cycle the next morning.


Addiction only intensifies this experience. Characterized by an obsessive mindset, individuals in recovery from substance use can take this incessant worrying to the next level.

Unfortunately, this stress puts an extraordinary amount of pressure on a recovering addict, especially if their sleep is affected, putting them at greater risk of relapse. A major piece of the recovery process is learning to cope with stress and anxiety in a healthy way in order to enjoy the present moment and support long term sobriety. There are many ways to calm and clear the mind so that you can get back to living your life. Here are a few of our favorites. 


Guided Meditation or Breathwork


Utilizing meditation or focused breathing can help relax your physical body and your brain at the same exact time. Your nervous system will thank you, as the tension slowly leaves your body.

Thoughts slow down, creating a sense of grounding and calm. Practicing guided meditation and/or breathwork at night before bed can be a great tool for improving sleep, allowing you to drift off quickly and without effort. 




Consider taking some time each day to write. We suggest doing this before bed. Taking the time to get the day’s worth of thoughts onto paper has a sort of mind-clearing effect that can greatly improve your ability to fall asleep.

Acknowledge your accomplishments. Make note of things to do the next day. Jot down any interesting experiences or feelings you had. Get it all out and notice the state of your mind once you finish. 




Exercise is a wonderful outlet for pent up tension. People often experience anxiety and racing thoughts.

For some, this anxiety manifests as restlessness or inability to fall asleep. Working out can release some of this pent up energy. Once the body slows down and relaxes, the mind tends to follow suit. 




Knitting is a positive outlet for stress and anxiety as well, as it puts that sense of restlessness to work. Not only does knitting keep your hands busy, but it keeps your mind focused as well, thereby eliminating invasive thoughts or worry.


Learn an Instrument 


Playing an instrument requires a lot of discipline and dedication. It forces you to focus on one thing at a time and its very layered so you won’t get distracted easily. Learning how to play music takes hard work but it is so worth it in the end.

Tapping into your creative side can open up a whole world of therapeutic benefits, not to mention the comfort found in the music itself. Practicing daily, even if it’s only for 20 minutes, can drastically shift your mindset.




Reading is something that has gotten lost over the years. These days, instead of picking up a book we pick up a screen. Technology has taken over our attention.

Consequently, we find ourselves in a constant state of information overload which only adds to a wound up mental state and lack of sleep. Reading offers many therapeutic qualities, slowing down the mind and detaching from daily stressors and concerns. It has a grounding effect, supporting decompression after a long day.


Go Outside 


Nature offers a natural “high,” and spending time in nature creates a sense of calm and wellbeing. Unfortunately, we are so glued to our technology and social media that most people are greatly lacking in exposure to the outdoors.

Taking a hike allows you to exercise your muscles while breathing fresh air and experiencing natural beauty. Often this beauty can serve as a reminder of the mystery of life that we are all a part of. Returning to these concepts creates a sense of safety that gives our minds permission to let go of control and just be.


Plan a Social Event 


Many people, especially those in addiction recovery, feel uncomfortable around new people. That said, the idea of planning a large social event or gathering might seem intimidating.

However, it’s important to remember that isolation feeds an unhealthy mental state. Choose some contrary action and make an effort to connect with others in your community.

Doing so will feel easier with practice. Reaching out and socializing with people you relate to is crucial. It’s important to share your thoughts with others and know you are not alone.

The best part is the mental health boost you’ll experience as a result. It’s amazing how connecting with others can ease our minds in return. 


Struggling with Anxiety or Substance Use Disorder?


If you’re struggling with racing thoughts as a result of anxiety and/or substance use disorder, Avalon Malibu is here to help. We are a licensed mental health and substance use treatment center, specializing in helping our clients gain coping skills towards living a peaceful life. Whether you are in the middle of a relapse, or simply need support as you seek deeper healing, you don’t have to navigate the recovery journey alone. Call us today to learn more about our individualized programs, at 844-857-5992.

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