When you brain won’t shut down and you can’t stay focused on a conversation or you just wander around fretting and stewing over something that you cannot figure out, you may be feeling anxious. When you had one thing go wrong and it all of the sudden brings up all the things you’ve messed up over the years that are remotely related to this one thing that went wrong today, you may feel like your thoughts are out of control. When you can’t get that thought out of you brain and it seems to take over how you think or feel about yourself or a situation you are in, your mind may be racing with thoughts that are highly toxic to your well being.
How Do You Calm Racing Thoughts?
Racing thoughts make you feel helpless if you’ve never learned how to ground yourself and gain a little control. Your brain seems to heap buckets on top of buckets of guilt or worry or regret on your heart making you feel about two inches tall and completely overwhelmed. Racing thoughts are detrimental to keeping good balance in your life and to being the best you that you can be. They happen naturally and seem to sneak up on you when you are in more stressful situations. Its our body’s way of telling us we need to stop and take notice, something isn’t right.
As a caregiver, you will likely have lots of moments when life seems overwhelming and you just don’t know how to calm those racing thoughts. If that’s you, this post is just for you. You need to know that this is a normal part of life, but that it doesn’t need to control you. The key to dealing with this is to catch it early on. In fact, I’ve found the earlier I identify that my mind is beginning to race, the sooner I can put into practice one or more of these tips to gain a calmer sense of perspective.
Five tried and true ways to calm the racing thoughts:
Not just any breathing, but slow deep inhalations where you intentionally follow your breath through your nostrils and down into your lungs and stomach. Hold for a couple seconds and then slowly blow it out through a small hole in your mouth. Focus on the powerful relaxing and healing breathes for at least 5 long, slow deep breathes.
A couple of my boys especially needed exercise as they were growing up and still use this to calm the racing thoughts and ease the tension in their lives. Whether this is time in the gym, a quick walk around the block, a couple mile run, some cycling time or a swim in the lap lane, getting physical exercise has a way of boosting your endorphins and helping you gain some perspective so you can face your problems one thought at a time instead of in a rambling mess inside your brain.
Getting out in nature is an incredible way to slow your brain, especially if you allow yourself the to open all your sense to it. For some people, taking their shoes off so they can experience grounding with mother nature is critical. For others, just a slow, quiet walk in a wooded area, by the ocean or other source of water, or up a mountain, is what they need. I’ve found that this works best if you can couple this with deep breaths and intentional focus on the smells, sounds, sites around you. Soak it in. Allow your thoughts to focus on what you observe as you walk. Nature can be a great distraction from the daily stresses of life.
Sometimes a quick 5 minutes or less of focusing on an intention for the day or for your life as you breath and speaking it frequently either out loud or in your mind will help. I’ve often spent several minutes reminding myself that “I am a good person” over and over again on the days when I am prone to feeling poorly about myself. Maybe there is another intention you want to set for yourself, something that is hard for you to believe about you, but it’s what you want to believe about yourself. Make it into a short phrase and repeat it slowly in your mind for a few minutes or even out loud if your brain is refusing to cooperate. This has a couple effects. It refocuses your racing thoughts onto something more positive and it helps you begin to see and believe something positive about yourself. The more you say this, the more you will begin to believe it and you will find ways to act accordingly.
Write it out. Get it all out on paper – all your thoughts and worries and frustrations. Unloading it on paper can be a great way to release the tension and worry. Once it’s on paper, you may find that you can release it from your mind because you’ve given it a safe place to live. You may also find that you’ve discovered some truths about your worries that have changed the way you think about it. I have seen this work over and over in my own life. I write about my racing thoughts and worries and frustrations and I begin to realize that I may be a bit one sided in my thoughts or I may be panicking and not being realistic. I’ve often discovered ways I can change me and my thinking or the trigger point that put me in the panic in the first place. All of this by just journaling for a few minutes. If my goal is to find a way to deal with the racing thoughts, I can make my journaling functional and not just a gripe session.
I’m quite positive there are other ways to control the racing thoughts, but these are ways I’ve found work well for me. Do any of these resonate with you? What are other ways that you find to be helpful? How do you calm your racing thoughts?
Comment below and lets help each other develop a plan for letting go and maintaining some balance when the thoughts won’t allow us to stay calm.