Some Tips to Help You Cultivate the Art of Not Thinking

Stopping the mental chatter is essential to free yourself from tension and stress and achieve inner peace. These simple exercises will help you not to think too much.
Some Tips to Help You Cultivate the Art of Not Thinking
Elena Sanz

Written and verified by the psychologist Elena Sanz.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

How many times have you wished you could just stop thinking? To stop your mind, hit the pause button, and enjoy a few minutes of peace? As a matter of fact, many people long to do this, especially those with a tendency to suffer from anxiety. This is because they can feel prey to intense and constant thoughts that psychologically drain them.

Overthinking can be a great burden and a significant limitation in many areas of life. Not only does it plunge you into permanent doubt and indecision, it also raises your stress levels and hinders your social relationships. In fact, by adopting this kind of mindset you find yourself unable to even connect with the person in front of you. However, fortunately, there are some tips and tricks that can help you reverse this trend.

Is it possible not to think?

As exhausting as the mental chatter maybe, not thinking about anything at all is practically impossible. However, what you can do is focus your attention on something specific. In this way, you can modify the activity of your cerebral cortex and obtain some rest.

Woman trying not to think

This is what’s sought with practices such as mindfulness or meditation. Indeed, when you’re invited to clear your mind, you’re actually being urged to regulate the flow of your thoughts, to deliberately focus, and to let any intrusive ideas simply pass you by.

However, this isn’t an easy process. That’s because you live in a fast-paced society, in an environment full of stimuli, and you’ve become accustomed to the content of your mind being hectic and chaotic. However, you can use some simple exercises to slow down this activity and find that long-awaited inner peace.

Exercises that help you to stop thinking

Mindful breathing

This is one of the most useful practices if you’re new to the art of not thinking, as it’s relatively easy to implement. The goal is to breathe in and out with a certain rhythm so that you focus all your attention on the flow of air in and out of your body.

To practice mindful breathing, find a quiet place where you can be alone and you know that no one is going to interrupt you. If you can, dress in comfortable and loose clothing that allows the natural movements of your body when breathing, and close your eyes. You can either sit or lie with your back straight, whichever is more comfortable for you.

Next, place your left hand on your chest and your right hand on your abdomen. As you breathe in, bring the air down into your lungs, making your belly rise. As you breathe out, slowly release the air as your stomach goes down as if you want to bring it together with your back. Stick to a certain rhythm, so that each of the phases (inhale, hold the air, exhale, hold) lasts four seconds.

Body scan

This is another simple exercise that you might want to employ at bedtime. It consists of lying on your back, closing your eyes, and beginning to focus your attention on each individual part of your body. You can start at your feet and move upwards or do the process in the reverse direction, starting from the top of your head.

In each area of your body, try to identify if there’s any tension, pain, or what sensations you’re experiencing… You can even tighten the muscles in the region for a few seconds and then loosen them. At the end of the exercise, you’ll find you’re both physically and mentally relaxed.

Woman thinking about something that makes her happy


Since it isn’t possible to cancel out your thoughts, why not deliberately select some that are pleasant and positive, that transmit calm and well-being? This is called visualization. You imagine, in a vivid and sustained way, a beautiful and pleasant scene.

For example, you could visualize a field, a beach, some dolphins jumping in the ocean… the key is to involve all of your five senses. What colors predominate in the landscape? What does it smell like? Do you feel the breeze? This exercise is extremely useful for focusing your attention.

Meditation and mindfulness

Finally, if you want to avoid thinking, you can practice meditation and mindfulness. If you’re a beginner, you can help yourself with guided meditations. You can find these on the internet or you could go to group classes, so someone’s there to guide you.

On the other hand, you can include mindfulness as a part of your daily routine. Simply focus on whatever activity you’re doing, be it cooking, showering, or talking with a friend… Stay focused on the present, on what you perceive, on what you feel. When your mind wanders to the past or the future, gently bring it back to the here and now.

The art of not thinking

Although the above suggestions are relatively easy to implement, not thinking is really an art. It requires patience, effort, and perseverance. However, with practice, it’ll become more and more natural for you to enter that state of calm and tranquility and your intrusive thoughts will considerably reduce. In fact, you only need a few minutes a day to make a difference. You’ll reduce your stress and increase your psychological well-being. Make a start now.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Aftanas, L. I., & Golosheikin, S. A. (2003). Changes in cortical activity in altered states of consciousness: the study of meditation by high-resolution EEG. Human Physiology29(2), 143-151.
  • Rodríguez, T., García, C. M., & Cruz, R. (2005). Técnicas de relajación y autocontrol emocional. MediSur3(3), 55-70.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.