Peaceful Mind: Definition, Tips & Quotes
Do you want to soothe your mind and just find some peace already? Learn here about the science behind cultivating a peaceful mind.
What Is a Peaceful Mind? (A Definition)
A peaceful mind may be defined as a state of calmness or tranquility that is free from worry, ruminative thoughts, or other types of busy, frenetic thoughts. Oftentimes, we spend too much time thinking—thinking about what’s to come in the future, what’s happened in the past, or even what’s going on right now. These are the times when we may crave a peaceful mind. We desire to rest our brains and just be present in the moment without the constant buzz of thoughts running through our heads.
Peaceful Mind, Peaceful Life
Our minds can feel anything but at peace when our phones snag our attention 24-7, we’re working more than is good for us, and we’re thinking about things like climate change, the economy, and the health of our loved ones. In the modern world, there is a lot to think about. Having access to all the news on our phones and computers doesn’t help. We now know all the ills of the world.
Luckily, there are still things we can do to calm the mind. We can start by spending less time on our phones. Whether the result is that we read less news, get fewer emails from work, or spend less time on social media, these can all help us have a more peaceful mind. For more tips on managing your relationship with your phone check out my book, Outsmart Your Smartphone.
How to Have a Peaceful Mind
There is actually a pretty good amount of research on how we can decrease our distressing thoughts and calm the body. For example, we know that the body’s stress response includes sympathetic nervous system activation, and the release of hormones like cortisol, norepinephrine, and epinephrine (Charmandari, Tsigos, & Chrousos, 2005). All of these make us feel wired, and this makes it difficult to have a peaceful mind. That’s why some of the techniques we’ll discuss below target the body directly. Once we help the body calm down, the mind can more easily follow.
Exercises for a Peaceful Mind
A relatively simple way to start calming the mind is by using visualization. To try it, simply imagine yourself in a peaceful place. Some of my favorite peaceful places include an apple orchard, a mountain meadow filled with wildflowers, a cabin deep in the woods, or a quiet beach lined with palm trees. Feel free to choose one of these calm places or one of your own.
While visualizing yourself in this place, try to look at the world around you. What do you see, hear, and smell? Often, I imagine hearing nothing more than a breeze or the rustling of a few leaves on trees. Ohhhh, the quiet is delightful. And the smells are soothing, perhaps flowers, trees, or fresh fruit.
If you can get your mind to imagine you’re in a place that makes you feel peaceful, your brain and body actually react as if you are in the place—you actually feel the emotions that would come up if you were actually in that place (Quoidbach, Wood, & Hansenne, 2009). That’s why visualization can be such a useful exercise for creating a peaceful mind.
Identify cognitive distortions
Our minds can get more easily agitated when we have certain, unhealthy thought patterns. For a more peaceful mind, it can be helpful to identify if we have any of these thought patterns so we can start changing them. Here are a few to explore:
Catastrophizing. Catastrophizing is when we expect the worst possible outcome for every situation. Undo catastrophizing by trying to think of good—or at least neutral—outcomes.
Minimization. Minimizing is when we downplay positive attributes, experiences, or strengths. Instead, try to appreciate the good things about yourself and your life.
All-or-nothing thinking. All-or-nothing thinking is when we view a situation as all good or all bad. It can be more helpful to recognize that there is good and bad in almost everything.
Overgeneralization. Overgeneralization is when we believe that one negative experience suggests that all our experiences will be negative from now on. To overcome this, try to remember that we all have good times and bad, and just because things are going poorly now doesn't mean that they will always go poorly.
Self-criticism. Self-criticism is when we have negative self-talk. Try instead to talk to yourself in a compassionate way and remember that no one is perfect.
Activities for a Peaceful Mind
Do things you enjoy
Sometimes we get stuck in a clouded mind when our lives are dull, stagnant, or uninspiring. That’s why doing things you enjoy may help put your mind at ease. Doing fun things can help stimulate your mind so that when you are relaxing, your mind can fully rest.
Go for a swim
Another way to calm the body is to activate the parasympathetic nervous system. Interestingly, immersing the body in cold water helps activate this system (Mourot et al., 2008). So if you’re feeling your mind racing, go for a swim in cold water or even take a cold shower. This can be a quick trick to induce a peaceful mind.
Perhaps one of the best ways to put your mind at peace is to get outside. Research shows that spending time in the wilderness, a park, or even your front yard may be beneficial for your well-being (Ulrich & Parsons, 1992). The outdoors offers so many different things that can help soothe the mind—fresh air, sunlight, and breathing in the scent of trees are all of which are good for our health.
Try to spend at least 15 minutes outside each day. You could park further from work, go for an evening walk with a loved one, or just sit on a patio at a coffee shop. These small efforts can go a long way to helping create a more peaceful mind.
Meditations for a Peaceful Mind
Meditation is a commonly used strategy when we want a more peaceful mind. The goal with meditation is to clear the mind of thoughts and just be present, often focusing on the breath. Some common types of mediation include mindfulness meditation, loving-kindness meditation, and self-compassion meditation.
Here are few guided meditations to try out:
Meditations for a peaceful mind
Music For a Peaceful Mind
One study showed that listening to peaceful, relaxing music can reduce cortisol, a key stress hormone (Khalfa et al., 2003). In particular, binaural beats (i.e., when two tones with slightly different frequencies are played to each ear) seem to be beneficial and can even help improve performance (Garcia-Argibay, Santed, & Reales, 2019).
Given the research, listening to soothing music may be another simple way to put the mind at peace. So if you’re feeling frazzled, put on some quiet, calm music. I also like to listen to this style of music while I’m working—it helps me focus and keep stress levels down. You may also want to put on peaceful music before bed.
Peaceful Mind: Beautiful Meditation Music to Relax Mind & Body
Yoga for Peaceful Mind
Did you know that yoga can actually reduce cortisol, a key stress hormone (Thirthalli et al., 2013)? It’s not entirely clear why, but it might be because yoga involves deep breathing and concentration that prevents us from ruminating on our worries. Doing yoga regularly can be a great way to create a more peaceful mind and a healthier body.
Mantras for a Peaceful Mind
Using mantras may be another way to create a more peaceful mind. Mantras are types of chanting that are often used as part of Eastern meditation techniques. Early research suggested that mantras may be beneficial for well-being. For example, chanting an “Om” seemed to calm a group of elderly participants (Kaye, 1985). Other studies show that mantras can result in short-term decreases in stress and depression (Wolf & Abell, 2003).
Massage for a Peaceful Mind
Massage is another technique that may be helpful. One study showed that 10, 30-minute massages over five weeks led to a lower cortisol response (Field, 2005). Soothing physical touch does indeed seem to relax us. Whether it's human-to-human interaction or getting aches and pains out of our bodies, massage can be a useful trick for calming the mind and body.
Deep Breathing for a Peaceful Mind
Deep, controlled breathing has been shown to activate the parasympathetic nervous system. This system is key in helping us de-stress and it is the counterbalance to the sympathetic nervous system—our fight or flight system. Deep breathing also can quickly reduce anxiety and promote a greater sense of calm (Zope & Zope, 2013). By taking a few deep breaths, we begin to tell our body that things are safe, and the systems that are overactive can begin to mellow. Try the exercise below to see how deep breathing affects you.
Video: Deep Breathing Exercise for a Peaceful Mind
Detoxing Your Stress for a Peaceful Mind
If we've been stressed for a long time, our bodies can get overrun with stress hormones. When we’re healthy, we have systems for removing these hormones. But the longer we are stressed the more these hormones can build up. Detoxing our stress, or removing the old stress from our bodies, can really help us get back to feeling like ourselves. We can do this with a combination of diet, general exercise, and mediation. Learn more about how to detox your stress here.
Peaceful Mind Techniques
Here are a few more techniques that may help you create a peaceful mind.
Most of us are really hard on ourselves. That’s why self-compassion can be a great tool for calming our minds. We might generate self-compassion by writing ourselves a self-compassionate letter.
2. Get more sleep
Lack of sleep can weaken the immune system (Ibarra-Coronado et al., 2015) and contribute to higher levels of stress hormones like norepinephrine and epinephrine (Zhang et al., 2011). These hormones make us feel more anxious. That’s why sleep is essential for creating a more peaceful mind.
2. Try calming herbs
There are many well-known herbs and teas that can help soothe the mind and body. In particular, adaptogens are plants that help the body manage stress. Some effective adaptogens include Ashwagandha, Holy Basil, Eleuthero, Jiaogulan, Rhodiola, & Ginsing (Winston, 2019).
Quotes For a Peaceful Mind
If you’re in need of a little inspiration to help you start prioritizing a peaceful mind, here are some quotes that may help.
More Articles For a Peaceful Mind
If you want to keep learning skills that can help you create a more peaceful mind, here are a few more good articles to check out.
Books For a Peaceful Mind
Here are some books to explore as you continue your journey towards a more peaceful mind.
Final Thoughts on a Peaceful Mind
With all the buzzing stress we have to deal with these days, a peaceful mind can be hard to come by. Luckily, there are some things we can do to calm worries and put our minds more at ease. Hopefully, the tips provided here will get you started.