5 Ways to Reduce Head Chatter

books introversion stress Oct 19, 2022

Introvert is almost synonymous with overthinking. Which is why the book, Chatter: The Voice in Our Head, Why It Matters, and How to Harness It, immediately grabbed my attention simply when I saw the title. I highly recommend it because it delivered with scientifically backed yet practical ideas for quieting that persistent voice. It's written by Ethan Kross who is a professor at the University of Michigan.

We always want the voice in our head to speak kindly and quietly, but so often it gets caught in a negative loop. The voice exists to protect us...from saber-toothed tigers. It's now one those slow to evolve parts of our brain that still serves a purpose like sensing real danger but is stuck in unnecessary hyperdrive.

We need a way (or several) to manage the negative voice. So here are 5 ways to reduce head chatter according to the book.

1) Journal - Writing expressively about your feelings about a negative situation is a great way to clear the mind clutter. If you have a tendency to suppress your feelings, this exercise can safely remove the emotions so they don't continue to get bottled up. Resist perfection and simply write in stream of conscious without editing.

Additionally, recording your feelings after stepping outside of your comfort zone is a highly effective way to process those emotions and promote energy recovery for us introverts.

2) Perform a ritual - No, it doesn't require sacrifice. Think of your habits and routines like your morning coffee, attending a religious service, or your workout. There is comfort in doing something steady you can rely on.

3) Embrace - A hug can do wonders. When my daughter is sad and her feelings are beyond my control, I usually offer a hug. That's within my control and she most times obliges.

This also taps into empathy. And while empathy wasn't a part of this book, I've read dozens of books that discuss empathy. When your head chatter is loud, it often has been provoked by emotions. Having someone to show you empathy when you're overridden by feelings, absolutely calms your mind.

Even if there isn't someone available when you need an embrace, a stuffed animal or weighted blanket can be helpful too.

4) Look at photos of loved ones - To quote the book, "Thinking about others who care about us reminds us that there are people we can turn to for support during times of emotional distress. This is why looking at photos of loved ones can soothe our inner voice when we find ourselves consumed with chatter."

5) Organize - This is a personal favorite because it explains rage cleaning...or rage organizing, something I've been known to do on occasion. It's proof that we need control in order to manage our mental clutter. I dare say it shifts our focus too. So what can you tidy up or where can you declutter and donate?

These are only 5 of the dozens of ways to reduce head chatter listed in the book. For the thorough explanations, definitely read the book, Chatter. And remember that adapting these techniques is a practice. Even if you pick just one technique, you'll need to do it over and over and over again before it sticks long term.

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