Go Slow! 6 Ways To Calm Your Racing Thoughts
“Thoughts were zipping around my head like fireflies in a jar, bumping into each other, blinking on and off.” – Cameron West
Addiction to our thoughts is something that, on one hand, can be good but on the other, it can make it difficult to shut our minds off to get the emotional and mental rest that our mind craves and we need to reset our minds.
Experiencing a constant loop of thoughts isn’t limited to people with mental health disorders or conditions like trauma or PTSD. Anyone can experience racing thoughts if they are too stressed about a situation or are experiencing anxiety over something.
But what are racing thoughts, exactly?
Racing thoughts are repetitive thoughts or thought patterns that can overwhelm and are constant on a loop in your mind. Sometimes these thoughts are related to one another but many a times, these thoughts can be unrelated to your current situation. Racing thoughts often dominates and overpowers the mind, making it difficult to focus on the task at hand.
Causes Of Racing Thoughts
There are no such causes determined for racing thoughts but some of the factors that do affect are:
- Anxiety disorders
- Panic disorders
- Chronic stress
- Substance use
- Side-effects of certain medications
- Stroke or a traumatic brain injury
People with depression who experience racing thoughts are more at risk of self-harm or thoughts of suicide. If you or someone you know is at risk, then you should reach out to these suicide helpline numbers for help.
You Can Calm Your Racing Thoughts By…
There are many ways including psychotherapy and medications to help you calm your racing thoughts but these self-help tips can be helpful as well:
1. Take A Breath
Our bodies naturally respond to stress by increasing our heart rate and breathing and this could be one of the reasons our mind starts its loop of racing thoughts. Taking slow, deliberate, and deep breaths can help us reduce our stress levels and make us feel calm and clear-headed. This will automatically calm our racing minds.
In the beginning, you can try taking a deep breath by using the 4-7-8 rule; Take a breath in 4 seconds, hold for 7, and release in 8.
2. Mantra For Racing Thoughts
Repeating phrases or mantras in the form of positive and healthy affirmations can also help you calm down. Simple phrases such as “Everything is okay” or “It is a good day”, or simply saying “Om” can help. Mantras help our mind to focus on one thing at a time and takes away the power our racing thoughts have on our minds.
3. Focus On The Now
For many people, their racing thoughts stem from something that has either happened or has not yet happened (or might not even happen). If you’re experiencing racing thoughts, then try to focus yourself back on the present moment. When you start thinking about something that causes your mind to race, take a deep breath, ground yourself to the present, and repeat “I can’t worry about the past or the future. I need to focus on what I can control.”
4. Distractions Can Be Helpful
You can control your racing thoughts by engaging in healthy distractions. Pick up a hobby to help you shift gears from racing thoughts to something calmer. You can try distractions such as:
- Adult coloring books
- Doodling or painting
- Cooking or baking
- Dancing or singing
- Going for a walk
- Engaging in physical exercises
- Watch a feel-good movie
- Listening to music
5. Exercising Can Help
I know this might not seem like a good distraction but it was proven that regular physical activity can improve mental health and well-being. Physical exercise can help reduce symptoms of depression and with it, racing thoughts. It can also act as an instant mood booster as exercise releases endorphins which make us feel good.
If you don’t want to engage in an intense cardio workout, you can try jogging or walking. 15-30 minutes of physical activity can be helpful in calming your racing thoughts.
6. Use Lavender
Lavender is a plant whose extract can help you calm down instantly. Lavender can be inhaled by the way of aromatherapy, it can be used as an essential oil to rub tense muscles in a gentle massage, or it can be taken via tea. There is lavender flavored tea available on online platforms like Amazon.
It is important to note that applying lavender oil directly to the skin can be harmful. If you’re planning on using essential oils, then dilute them, apply a small amount on a dry patch of skin to check for any potential allergic reactions, and then use them. You can dilute it by using coconut oil, almond oil, or olive oil.
Like I said before, thinking isn’t a bad thing but overthinking things that have happened somewhere in the past or are yet to happen can be dangerous. Racing thoughts can affect your daily life and disrupt your work and home life.
By engaging in stress management techniques, your racing thoughts can be manageable. You may experience racing thoughts in case of stress, anxiety, or any traumatic occurrence but it can also be a reaction to any underlying mental health condition.
If you feel to talk with a trained and licensed professional, you can write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or can visit our services section to get help.
Stay well, stay safe!