Insomnia: Three exercises to help combat brooding

Insomnia: Three exercises to help combat brooding
Insomnia: Three exercises to help combat brooding

Tips for insomnia: Do you lie awake at night, worrying? These simple physical exercises will help you stop the carousel of thoughts and find peace.

When we brood, the restlessness doesn’t just stay in our heads. We feel ourselves tense up, our blood pressure rises, or we get a headache. It becomes obvious that our thoughts also affect our bodies. But what very few people know is that we can also use our bodies to stop the annoying circling of thoughts. You don’t even have to jog for hours or exhaust yourself in the gym. Even very simple physical exercises can help us find inner peace.

This connection has been investigated by a branch of cognitive science known as embodiment research. It explores how the body and psyche are connected. According to this, both are in constant interaction and are inconceivable without each other – every mental sensation, every emotion, is felt in the body and every physical posture influences the psyche.

People have always known about the close connection. For example, when someone is depressed, they say “chin up” or “don’t let yourself get so down”. And a more upright posture can actually help a stressed person, as studies from embodiment research show.

Claudia Croos-Müller, a German neurologist and psychotherapist, developed the Body2Brain method based on these findings. It teaches people small physical exercises that improve their mental and emotional well-being.

Stop brooding and the carousel of thoughts: Expert Claudia Croos-Müller

Some of them are particularly effective against brooding, strong self-doubt and negative thought loops:

Insomnia: How to stop brooding and the carousel of thoughts

Tip 1: Walk backwards

Stand up straight. Drop your shoulders. Breathe in and out deeply and consciously a few times.

  • Now start by walking backwards on the spot. Do this movement for 30 seconds or one minute.
  • Now walk slowly backwards through the room. Step by step. Take a few minutes to do this. You will notice how you relax inside.
  • Additionally, you can also run backwards a bit if you have space.

The effect: Walking backwards requires coordination and attention. The signals from the emotional center of the brain are thereby somewhat suppressed. The strong negative feelings subside. It is easier for you to let the brooding thoughts rest and think about something else. Walking backwards also signals to the emotional system: We are starting from the beginning! This also makes it easier to mentally restart.

Tip 2: Hug and hand on heart

Breathe in and out deeply a few times. Try to release the tension as you breathe out.

  • Now put both arms around yourself so that you hug yourself. You can choose whether around the shoulders or around the waist.
  • Hold on a little tight.
  • If you like, rock gently back and forth while you hug each other.
  • Then place your flat hand on your chest in the heart area for a minute or two. This increases the feeling of self-worth and kindness towards yourself.
  • The exercise works just as well when lying down as when sitting or standing.

The effect: A hug means connection. In this case, you are connecting with yourself. The friendly self-touch signals security to the brain via receptors in the skin. The body then releases messenger substances that primarily reduce the stress hormone cortisol. A feeling of security and connection spreads. The mechanism also works when we stroke pets or cuddly toys and find this calming.

Tip 3: Lean

As the saying goes: sometimes you need a strong shoulder to lean on. If there isn’t one, a wall or a cupboard will do.

  • Find something to lean on: a doorframe, a wall, a tree trunk.
  • Lean back. Carefully at first. Over time, you will feel how much weight you want to release: Do you want to lean back gently or with your full weight?
  • Find the position that suits you. Do you want to lean back? With your whole body? With your arms crossed?
  • Now breathe slowly and calmly in your preferred position. Pay particular attention to the long exhalation.
  • Stay in this position for at least three minutes. The longer the better.

The effect: This exercise ensures that the brain receives the information: “Everything is stable here. You can let go of the burden.” The brain then produces neurotransmitters that calm, relieve pain and lift the mood. The restlessness subsides, thoughts become clear again. The physical stimulus sets the positive spiral in motion.

Neurologist Claudia Croos-Müller knows: “Negative thought patterns can be broken down – thanks to the neuroplasticity of the nervous system.” But that takes time. Anyone who wants to free themselves from negative thought patterns and rumination traps in the long term must therefore train. “Do the exercises as regularly as possible,” advises the expert. And not just in an emergency.

An important clue: If you cannot get out of the thought loops on your own, if your mood is permanently low or even desperate, please contact your family doctor. You do not have to fight the rumination monster alone. Sometimes it takes more than a few practical tips.

Source: Stern

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