Having racing thoughts is not limited to people that struggle with a diagnosed mental health condition. Yes, people that struggle with a mental health condition like anxiety disorders or post-traumatic stress disorder are more likely to experience racing thoughts. However, anyone can experience racing thoughts but don't worry, there are therapeutic ways to calm racing thoughts!
What are Racing Thoughts?
Racing thoughts are repetitive thought patterns that are fast-moving and overwhelming. Sometimes the thoughts are related to one another and other times they may be about unrelated things. The problem with racing thoughts is that they dominate a persons mind, making it difficult for them to focus on other things. It is also the case that racing thoughts end in worst-case scenarios, making racing thoughts even more of an overwhelming experience. Racing thoughts can be caused by several mental health conditions. For example; bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, attention deficit disorder, and panic disorders.
If you do not have a diagnosed mental health condition, it is more likely that your racing thoughts are triggered by high levels of stress. It may also be the case that certain medications or severe lack of sleep may be the trigger to racing thoughts, but there is no one cause to racing thoughts. If you experience racing thoughts at night, it can cause a person with current sleep difficulties more trouble sleeping. Consequently, increasing the occurrence of racing thoughts. Racing thoughts can be treated once you can identify the cause. It is important to remember that racing thoughts are just thoughts. You are in control of your mind, not the other way around. When you discover strategies that work best for you, you may begin to control racing thoughts and reduce their occurrence.
How to Stop Racing Thoughts
There are various ways to calm racing thoughts or control them all together, but remember mastering these strategies will not happen overnight. If you find yourself feeling frustrated because they are not working, do not give up. The strategy you are using may not work for you and you must discover what works best for YOU. Or, you may need more practice utilizing the strategies you have learned.
- Changing How You Think- Many times racing thoughts are about things that have yet to happen, apprehension about things to come, and things that can not be changed. Focusing your thoughts on the present is important, and reminding yourself to remain in the present and on things you can control can be very helpful. Another aspect of racing thoughts is that they usually end in worst-case scenarios, which leads to heightened experiences of anxiety and stress. Remembering there are other positive options to thoughts and choosing to think about those can decrease the racing thoughts. For example, instead of “I keep forgetting to call my sister back, I am a terrible sister,” change the thought to “I have to find a way to help me remember to return my sisters phone calls, people forget things, but it does not make me a bad person.” Finally, choosing specific mantras may also be helpful in turning the mind away from racing thoughts. Phrases like “they are just thoughts, I am in control of my thoughts,” Or “everything is okay, I will get through this,” are simple phrases that can calm racing thoughts.
- Physical Things To Do- Distracting the mind is a great way to decrease or calm racing thoughts. Keep yourself busy in productive and healthy ways like exercising, doing yoga, cleaning your house, or getting a massage. Keeping yourself busy can decrease an idle mind from having racing thoughts. Taking deep breaths is something simple but effective. Racing thoughts can accelerate your heart rate and breathing. Slow, deep breaths can reduce the stress that your body is experiencing and illuminate feelings of calmness, consequently calming the racing thoughts. Finally, creating a relaxing space can help create calmness in your mind. The use of scented candles, dim lighting, inhaling lavender essential oils, etc., are examples of ways to create an environment of peace and relaxation. Life can be very fast-paced and we forget to make time for ourselves and slow down.
- Medical Care- If your racing thoughts are a result of a mental health condition, it is important to receive consultation from a doctor. If you are not sure if your racing thoughts are related to a mental health condition, seeking advice from a doctor is still recommended. Keep in mind, there is no single treatment for racing thoughts. Being prescribed medication for a diagnosed existing mental health condition may completely eliminate or decrease racing thoughts. It may be the case that a medication you are currently taking is causing your racing thoughts so changing the dosage or medication altogether may be a solution. Taking medication to promote better sleeping habits or altering your sleeping habits altogether can also be helpful. Finally, seeking out therapy or counseling can decrease racing thoughts, as you could discover what may be triggering them- and the best strategies that work for you in calming them.
Remember, once you discover the trigger to your racing thoughts, you can begin to treat them in the most effective ways and improve your mental well-being altogether.