How to Cope with Racing Thoughts
Everyone experiences racing thoughts from time to time. How you respond in these situations makes all the difference. Racing thoughts can be a sign of energy and strength you can harness to your benefit.
They might be a sign that you are strong and motivated, but don’t know what to do just yet. In many cases, turmoil emerges when you find yourself unable to make an important decision. You might feel like you don’t have all the information and don’t want to act until you know you are making the right choice. There’s a lot of wisdom in being patient and waiting, and it’s a sign you have the ability to fix things.
Follow along with me today as I explore the high energy states of the human mind and how they can be focused to bring you peace.
What are Intrusive Thoughts?
We all have problems that interfere with our lives, and it’s important to spend time thinking about solutions. But if these thoughts get in the way of important work, sleep, or recreation, they can become a problem.
One of the warning signs of anxiety is a negative thought or pattern that just won’t go away. Your mind flips rapidly from one problem to another. Even after you decide on a course of action, your mind keeps going back to the alternatives. Or in some cases, you just can’t make up your mind in the first place. These thoughts can keep you up at night, second-guessing yourself and asking “what if?” questions.
Sometimes people tend to push down or ignore bad feelings. This can be an effective solution for small problems: when I have a hunger pang during a meeting, for example, I push it down and ignore it. I know my next meal is coming soon, so I don’t have to take action and interrupt work. On the other hand, if someone has hurt my feelings and I push that down, it will likely make the problem worse.
Learning how to express yourself better is one of the best ways to resolve thoughts that won’t go away. One way that I find works is to pick a close friend, family member, or intimate partner who understands you. Take them to lunch or invite them over for a private conversation and ask them for help discussing your problems. If you don’t have much experience expressing yourself, this might be hard at first, but it gets easier with time and practice.
Harness Your Racing Thoughts
When you learn how to release the stress and turmoil in your mind, you keep it from building up to unmanageable levels. This helps you focus better and direct your energy toward solutions.
Some very effective ways to manage racing thoughts include working out more often, writing in a journal, or engaging in a hobby. One of the best methods is to talk out your problems with a friend you trust.
Using mindfulness apps can help you resolve negative emotions before they become a problem. When you identify issues when they are small, you can fix them quickly and easily and move on to happier or more productive topics.
An important step is to identify your triggers. Take a moment right now to think about what happens right before your thoughts start racing. Is there a common topic or theme you can identify? There may be several different things that can trigger an anxiety event.
Learning how to reassert healthy feelings can help you overcome anxiety and racing thoughts. Grounding techniques have been developed to help you calm agitation and excitement.
Scheduling an appointment with your therapist can also help you identify and overcome your triggers. There are psychiatric medications that can help you manage your feelings while you develop the necessary skills to better manage anxiety. These medications are often temporary and only needed to help you avoid panic attacks and elevated anxiety while you learn and grow. A visit with a professional can help you decide if medication is right for you.
As you learn to harness and shape your racing thoughts, you may find you can transform negative behaviors into positives. This is sometimes called Post Traumatic Growth, but you don’t have to go through trauma to reap the benefits.
Overcoming Depression and Anxiety
When you discover how to manage stress effectively in your life, your triggers will shrink and may eventually disappear. When you develop a habit of practicing stress reduction techniques every day, your resilience will grow. The better you get at resolving stress, the more you will improve your state of mind, productivity, and relationships.
It all starts with a single step. No matter how big your problems are, small improvements that accumulate over time can create big changes. The first step is the hardest, and each step you take after the first gets easier and easier. I have seen people transform themselves so completely that it amazes their family and friends.
Small problems remain small when you resolve them quickly before they have time to fester and grow. Learn how to live a happy life with practical skills and habits that transform negative feelings into positive and problems into solutions. This will help you minimize the effects of chronic stress, and sometimes remove it completely.
It’s important to avoid bottling up your feelings inside. Finding healthy ways to express how you feel will help you avoid the toxic side effects of unspoken feelings or angry outbursts.
Every life has a mix of positive and negative feelings that are constantly growing and shrinking. If you take time out every day to recognize the positive aspects of your life, it can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed. And the more time you spend reflecting on the good things in your life, the more likely you will be to help those good things grow. In many cases, finding ways to grow the positive things in your life can help the negative aspects shrink. Even when it doesn’t, having a calm mind makes it easier to map out solutions and take effective action.
How you frame your world is often the key to success, even when you think you are failing. How do you manage your thoughts when they won’t stop?
Effortless Self-Care Rituals for People Who Have Zero Time
By Ana Snyder, M.S., Exercise Physiology; CPT, FNS
I recommend taking a few minutes right now to pick one new skill you can develop that will help. Choose one of the suggestions I have discussed, or come up with one of your own. You might be surprised at how strong you can become.
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