Personal Growth

7 Practices to Channel Restlessness for Good

woman gardening

Whether you’ve got something major on your mind or you’ve eaten too much sugar, sometimes it simply feels impossible to sit still. You may be familiar with the feelings: antsy feet, jittery body, crawling skin, general unease, or a quickening breath rhythm.

When this uncomfortable feeling hits, you may choose self-destructive habits to find relief. Whether it’s overeating, calling up that long-lost love, getting a new tattoo, or making a hasty life-altering decision, you’ll do almost anything to ease the agitation. Often these go-to choices only increase internal discomfort.

Energy can neither be created nor destroyed, only transformed. So use your can’t-sit-still drive to initiate something beneficial! As summer marches on, there are many opportunities for adventurous and creative ways to get moving. Perhaps you channel your restless energy into planning the trip of a lifetime. Perhaps you take that disquiet and learn a new action-oriented hobby.

If you’d like to stimulate your restiveness with some healthy, sustainable tools, the following ideas will set you on the right track. Try these seven simple practices to transform your energy and get grounded.

1. Create

Do your hands need something to do? Put your wild energy to good use by creating something. With your restlessness you could build a garden box, make an extravagant birthday card, finish your Etsy shop profile, or choreograph a funky dance routine. Choose a creative outlet and get to it. You may have put your artistic self on the shelf, but perhaps within your restless energy is the next Frida or Picasso!

2. Dance

Are your feet feeling fluttery? Groove your way to exhaustion and bliss! Put on some of your favorite music and dance in your living room. Pull up a YouTube video of an inspiring music video and imitate the choreography until you sweat. Put on your headphones and saunter down the street with a spring in your step. Transform your restless energy into a little jig and you’ll feel your spirit settle. The founders of 5Rhythms dance explain that when you move your body in creative and unexpected ways, you free yourself from fixed notions of people, places, objects, and ideas. That may be just what you need to soothe your antsy-ness.

3. Tapping

Want to move those fidgety feelings through and out of you? Try tapping (also known as Emotional Freedom Technique or EFT). Tapping is a painless self-help technique. It involves tapping your fingers or hands on various acupressure points all over your head, face, and torso. EFT can be soothing in the midst of stressful moments as well as a healing tool for dealing with posttraumatic stress syndrome.

4. Inquire

Curious about why you often feel unable to sit still? What an opportunity to learn about yourself! Take this time of unease to inquire into your restlessness. Try a meditation technique called a body scan to explore.

  • Find a comfortable position lying down.
  • Take a moment to close your eyes and tune into the sensations in your body.
  • Start at your toes and work your way upwards through your legs, torso, shoulders, and up to the top of your head.
  • Be inquisitive about anything you notice: tingling, pain, heat, pleasure, openness, or anything else.
  • As best you can, release any judgments or stories you have about what comes up.
  • As you finish your scan, take a few deep breaths and consider why those feelings may be present.

5. Garden

Do you feel ungrounded? Get your hands and feet into the earth to ease some restlessness. Stepping outside, taking some deep breaths, and being in the sunshine will shift your energy. Connecting to the Earth by planting seeds, pulling weeds, or simply admiring flowers has many benefits. Studies demonstrate that gardening has mental and physical health perks including reduced stress hormones, reduced risk of dementia, and exposure to vitamin D. Whether you’re tending to your windowsill herb collection, planting an urban farm, or picking succulents to gift to friends, gardening can be counted on to as an outlet for excess energy.

6. Clean

If you need something productive to do, clean your living space. There’s the idea that outer order creates inner calm and it’s worth a try! Your living space will be brighter and you might end up feeling lighter. Sweep, dust, mop, scrub, and shine to expend some energy. Rearrange your living room, organize your kitchen cabinets, or clean out your refrigerator.

7. Meditate

If you can’t sit still, forcing yourself to sit anyway may be just the ticket.

  • Set a timer for 10 or 20 minutes and commit to sitting for that long.
  • Find a comfortable seat on a meditation cushion or chair.
  • Take several grounding breaths.
  • Place your palms face-down on your thighs.
  • Close your eyes and begin to follow your breath as it comes in and goes out.
  • Stay put for the time allotted (no matter what!) and notice how you feel at the very end.

For guided meditations and to build a meditation habit, try the Chopra Center’s 21-Day Meditation Experience with Oprah and Chopra.

If you’re feeling restless, take an honest assessment of how you’re truly feeling (and why). What healthy practices will help you feel the most grounded and renewed? Instead of reaching for alcohol, food, or whatever your go-to vice is, the next time you feel like you just can’t sit still, consider dancing, gardening, tapping, or creating something. Your body, mind, heart, and spirit will thank you!

*Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only; does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Chopra Center's Mind-Body Medical Group; and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.

Learn a natural, effortless style of meditation that helps invite renewal and freshness into every day with Basics of Meditation, a self-paced online course guided by Deepak Chopra. Learn More.

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