Ways to Treat Racing Thoughts
Treating your anxiety is the only surefire way to stop racing thoughts from anxiety. But in the interim, there are some strategies you can try that may be effective.
Writing Out Thoughts
One of the theories about why the mind races is that it doesn’t want to forget the thoughts you’re having. The idea is that your brain is essentially keeping these thoughts in your mind to ensure that you don’t forget them, because it’s worried that if you stop thinking about them it will go away.
It’s not clear about whether or not this theory is true. But what many people find effective as a way to preventing this problem is writing out all of their thoughts in some type of hard document, like a journal.
Your brain is a complex organ, and one that can do things without your knowledge. When you write out the thoughts you’re having on a permanent piece of paper and keep it with you, your brain knows that it doesn’t have to focus on them anymore, because it knows that even if you forget it, you’ll still be able to remember it again when you read the journal or paper.
This is an interesting, and surprisingly effective way to calm the mind – especially before bed if your thoughts are keeping you awake.
When you can’t focus your thoughts, you may find it valuable to find something you can focus on. In a way, you need some type of mental distraction that makes it harder to think.
That’s where something like television or radio can come in handy. Many people with tinnitus – an ear disorder that causes an irritating ringing sound in a person’s ear – use auditory distractions to make it harder for them to focus on the irritating noise.
You can do this by trying to find some type of media that won’t keep you awake, but will distract your thoughts. One option is podcasts. Most smart phones have a podcast feature, and you can listen to podcasts while you sleep. Try to turn them as quiet as possible where you can still hear them, but only if you listen very hard.
This takes you out of your head and causes you to focus on something else, and once you’re focusing on something else, the racing thoughts should conceivably have less of an effect on your ability to fall asleep.
Exercise may also be a valuable tool for racing thoughts, primarily because when you exercise it doesn’t matter that your thoughts are racing. Exercise is a forgotten anxiety treatment strategy, but one that is incredibly effective at controlling not only anxiety, but also the thoughts that cause it.
When your body tires out, your mind tends to tire with it. Those that suffer from racing thoughts may find that by the time they’re done exercising, they have trouble having any thoughts at all. Once their thoughts start back up again, they may be calmer than before.
Another strategy is to simply train yourself not to care. Often racing thoughts become worse when you try as hard as you can to stop them. When your thoughts are racing, remind yourself that it’s a part of your anxiety – an irritating part, but a part of your anxiety nonetheless.
If you notice that you struggle to sleep every time you have racing thoughts, don’t try to stop the thoughts. Rather, get up for a bit, and find a way to occupy your time. If your thoughts start racing, go back to bed. If they don’t, then you’ll have to deal with the effects of insomnia, but at least you’ll have gotten stuff done in the meantime to reduce your stress in other ways. Getting upset over your racing thoughts but staying in bed will generally only make you more upset and cause your thoughts to race further.
Finally, make sure that you’re giving yourself boring routines. Those that have racing thoughts during the day need a strategy that is so boring, their thoughts stop bothering them. It may be going for a walk in a quiet area, doing math, making art (although this is not necessarily boring) – anything that doesn’t “excite” the mind and body. Do your best to stay off electronics.
For those that have these thoughts before they sleep, a long routine before you go to bed that is free of light and technology is important. About 30 minutes before you sleep (or more if you can), turn off all technology and start preparing for sleep. Make sure that your routine is long enough that you’re not done for all 30 minutes – this will give your mind time to wind down. By the time you go to sleep, many of the things that excite the mind will be taken away, and sleeping may be easier.
How to Stop Racing Thoughts From Anxiety « Calm Clinic.
via How to Stop Racing Thoughts From Anxiety « Calm Clinic.