An introduction to coping with racing thoughts
Dealing with racing thoughts can be a challenging and daunting task, but I’d like to share some of the tips I have gained over the years so that it can be managed. I’ve previously posted about my racing thoughts, and I thought it would be a good idea to post this for people who are looking for coping skills.
Have you experienced racing thoughts? Are you looking for ways to deal with it? Often, racing thoughts can make one antsy, sometimes frustrated — especially when trying to focus on a task, and it’s even downright exhausting. It can seem like no matter what we do, we can’t get our mind to just …behave. Maybe you can’t focus on a task, or listen in a conversation. Let’s talk about that.
Self-control, learning about your triggers
You are in more control than you may think, or at least I believe that. Some of it may be caused by mental illness, but some of it is also a form of bad habit! What I mean is that we all have certain thinking patterns in general, and they can be changed with enough willpower and dedication. Ask yourself, what are you really thinking about? Are you worrying about something? What is causing you to think of the specific thing that you’re thinking of when your mind is racing? It’s not usually “nothing”, even if that’s your first thought — you may just not know what it is,
There may be triggers — for example: words, music, anxiety, stress, paranoia, or even environmental triggers. It would be helpful to figure it out so that the specific thought can be avoided easier. If you avoid a trigger for a thought, the occurrence of that thought will be reduced greatly. Work on reducing the things that are triggering the thoughts in the first place, and if you really can’t find the triggers, maybe someone else who’s close to you can provide some insight. In addition to that, working on reducing stressors in general can help.
Already experiencing racing thoughts?
There are some things that can really help when you’re already experiencing the thought. My first suggestion is to take very deep, slow breaths — and I’m not bullshitting you here, it can really help. If you’re experiencing anxiety, put your mind somewhere else; if you can, close your eyes, imagine being somewhere nice, somewhere that you’re comfortable and relaxing — and tell yourself that everything is okay. But don’t start daydreaming too much if you’re having trouble focusing on something; maybe just take a break.
You have to put the effort into trying to focus on something else, and calming your mind. This can work for anxiety too. Third, if you’re having problem focusing on something (or someone), don’t think that you’re not concentrating enough; whether it be reading a book, watching a movie, any kind of work, having a conversation with someone, etc. — instead, you need to really focus your senses and bring yourself “down to earth”, in the current situation. I say that because sometimes I get so into my racing thoughts that it can feel like I’m daydreaming, and bringing myself back to “reality” helps a lot.
If your focus is constantly shifting, put a strong effort into stopping the intrusive thought immediately. Focus on thinking on nothing if you have to for a moment, and again, breathe deeply and slowly. If you have obsessive compulsive disorder, this may be harder for you than others — but you can still do it.
Sometimes the problem is trying to do things too fast. Slow it down; rushing doesn’t help in the long run — and it’s more stressful, for sure – especially if you have deadlines. But if you’re not focusing, then you’re not going to be getting any work done — so it’s better take it slow and steady rather than worrying about a deadline. Just do your best under the circumstances; your life won’t end because of a missed deadline (okay, 99% of the time)!
My theory is when we are exercising, our mind focus mores on the movement and rhythm of what we’re doing. Seriously, think about that. It takes coordination to do many exercises, and they can also drain your energy which is actually a good thing to calm your mind. If you’re not into heavy exercise, you can try yoga.
Medication, natural supplements, and therapy might be helpful
In addition to what I’ve stated so far, I take medication for my bipolar disorder – which may or may not be what’s causing this problem for you, but it’s worth noting. I personally take a natural calming supplement, which honestly helps a lot after taking it for more than 10 days straight. I’ve also had years of therapy (specifically, CBT), which has made a significant improvement. I highly suggest discussing all of these things with a health professional.
With that said, I hope you have found this helpful and I wish you the best of luck dealing with your racing thoughts. I will update it when I think of more things worth noting.