Everybody experiences racing thoughts at some point in their life. Maybe they are in a difficult situation at work, in their marriage, or somewhere else. People who have anxiety often encounter racing thoughts when faced with one of their stressors. Moreover, racing thoughts are common for people who struggle with ADHD and bipolar disorder.
Whatever your situation, you are in good company. There are many ways that people who struggle with racing thoughts can calm their minds and take control of their attention. Here are 3 of the most effective ways to stop racing thoughts.
#1 – Focus on your senses. When you have racing thoughts, sit in a comfortable chair and close your eyes. Then, concentrate on each of your senses in turn. How does the chair feel? What can you hear? Sip some relaxing tea and focus on the taste. Next, open your eyes and closely observe what is in front of you. Finally, allow your thoughts to occur, but do not judge or react to them. Instead, let them play themselves out while you cycle through your senses again. Eventually, your racing thoughts will fade into the background.
#2 – Take a Deep Breath. Racing thoughts are connected to our fight-or-flight response, as are the other symptoms of anxiety. Deep breathing, using your diaphragm, can switch off the fight-or-flight response. Inhale slowly for four seconds, hold your breath for another four, and then finally let out your breath for four seconds. If you repeat this slow, intentional breathing several times, you may find that your thoughts have slowed down considerably.
#3 – Systematically relax your muscles. Progressive muscle relaxation is another way to activate your body’s relaxation response. It combines slow breathing with tensing and relaxing muscle groups around the body in a sequence. There are many free resources and tutorials on the internet that you can use to guide you through the order and help you keep a nice, slow rhythm. Progressive muscle relaxation slows racing thoughts and can help people who have trouble sleeping.