Slow Down Racing Thoughts
By Eric Endlich, PhD
Source: Alliant Employee Benefits
If you’ve experienced racing thoughts — feeling like your mind has sped up — you know they can make it difficult to calm down and focus. Racing thoughts can result from stress, anxiety, bipolar disorder and certain medical conditions, as well as caffeine or other substances.
Try a few of these strategies and see what works best for you:
- Breathe slowly and deeply. Within minutes, you may feel more relaxed.
- Practice mindfulness. Try yoga or meditation or focus on your experience in the moment.
- Accept your thoughts. Rather than resisting or judging what’s happening, just notice what’s happening with your mind.
- Get busy. Focusing on an activity, whether exercising, reading or conversing with someone, can give your mind a chance to settle down.
- Pick a worry time. Use this designated time to explore your concerns; at other times, simply take note of what you plan to worry about and then move on.
- Write it down. Putting your thoughts in a journal may help take some of the internal pressure off. Consider whether you need to take any action to improve your situation, or whether you’re spending unnecessary energy on issues that are out of your control. While you’re at it, jot down some things you’re grateful for or happy about.
- Talk to someone. If you are struggling to cope with racing thoughts, talking to someone can be helpful. This could be a friend, family member or mental health professional. In some cases, medication may be recommended.