How to Calm Your Mind is a treasure trove of practical, science-backed strategies that reveal how the key to a less anxious life, and even greater productivity, is a calm state of mind.
I took my time reading this over the past three months to let it really soak in. It’s great and totally aligns with my own shift in thinking over the years.
I’ve followed Bailey’s work for many years, and enjoyed his previous two books, but also struggled with anxiety, stress and burnout. Culturally it feels like many Millennials are going through this transition at the same pace, throwing ourselves into work and burning out through our twenties, then rethinking priorities in our thirties and recognizing the societal factors pushing us to work so hard and yet ineffectively. We see decades of our careers remaining ahead of us and are acknowledging that we can’t keep brute forcing ourselves till we’re eighty.
I appreciate this comprehensive recentering of the value and importance of rest and calm to let us live the lives we want to. Stress and anxiety have physical consequences to the way our bodies and minds function, and make it harder to be intentional. He covers the scientific backing behind burnout and stress as well as offering a whole host of practical steps to try calming your body and mind, while reminding readers not to overdo it by trying to change everything at once. Even as someone who’s practiced meditation and mindful breathing and such, I found new ideas.
I appreciated the deeper grounding in root causes, especially the framing of looking at activities in terms of stimulation. I was reading The Shallows by Nicholas Carr at the same time as this, which provided a perfect complement of messages on the impacts of digital spaces and the value of analog. I don’t 100% agree with Bailey — like his assertion that hanging out virtually “doesn’t count” as social time — but overall agree that I’d like to use my digital devices less and more thoughtfully, and replace digital with analog where viable.