Racing thoughts often start when we feel stressed or overwhelmed by what’s going on in our lives. Here’s eight ways to alleviate them:
Self-esteem and self-confidence
Self-esteem is in essence how we value ourselves. If the thoughts we have about ourselves are generally positive, this promotes healthy self-esteem. The great news is meditation can help to change the relationship we have with our thoughts. This can help to build self-esteem and increase our self-confidence. When we meditate, racing thoughts will most likely still occur but through mindfulness, we can learn how to accept and detach ourselves from those thoughts. Mindfulness meditation enables us to face those racing thoughts without reacting to them. Through regular practice, we can learn to break free from unhelpful thoughts.
Sometimes racing thoughts can cloud our view of what’s happening and lead to communication difficulties. However, putting off talking about things won’t help to alleviate your racing thoughts. It can also have the added negative effect of building up tension over time. If you find it tough to talk in person, some relationship experts advise putting your concerns down on paper. By writing down how you feel, it will focus your mind and reduce the power of your racing thoughts.
Thoughts on life and uncertainty
When we having racing thoughts, they will often be focused on our life and on the uncertainty of the future. Practising mindfulness and carrying out relaxation exercises can help to calm your body and your mind. This will help to quiet racing thoughts and enable you to refocus. By repeatedly associating a word such as ‘relax’ with being relaxed the word can become a powerful cue to relieve stress. Try saying your chosen word as you breathe out slowly and this will help to make you feel more relaxed.
Work life balance
When life is busy and we’re juggling a number of plates between work and life, it’s important to find a balance. Working smart involves prioritising your workload and allowing a certain amount of time per task. Try to draw a line between work and your home life to ensure you switch off and take a mental break from your 9-to-5 role. Spending time with family and friends, havingfun and making time for exercise, relaxation and hobbies you enjoy will all help to reduce stress.
Adapting what you eat can also help to reduce racing thoughts and it’s important to have a balanced diet and active lifestyle. Include lean meats, nuts, seeds, wholegrain carbohydrates and vegetables. Fruit and vegetables are good sources of antioxidants which help protect cells from oxidative stress in the body. High-antioxidant foods include: berries, beans, citrus fruits and apples. Regular exercise can help to improve your mental wellbeing. Whenever you feel racing thoughts developing, make time to go for a brisk walk or jog as this will help to settle your mind and it will also provide a welcome distraction.
If you have something in mind you’d really love to see, do or buy, creating a money-saving goal is a fantastic way to save faster. Money experts advise giving your goal a name as this will help you to reach it faster. If you’re quite new to saving, try starting with a small goal. For example, sales shopping kitty. Next, work out how much you would like to save each month. To work out your budget, grab as much information as you can about your income and spending and write it all down. If you need to cut back on your spending to save towards your goal, consider making easy reductions such as bringing in your lunch from home, for example.
At times, the environment we’re in can affect how we’re thinking. Having self awareness can help you to recognise where your thoughts and emotions are leading you, and this can enable you to make any necessary changes. One of the best ways to increase your self awareness is to write down what you want to do and track your progress. You could also volunteer for an environmental charity, contribute to a community garden, participate in a river or beach clean-up or become involved in woodland conservation.
Fear of failure
Fear of failure can be immobilising when it occurs, causing us to do nothing. This self-sabotage can appear in the form of procrastination, perfectionism, anxiety, reluctance to try new things and low self-esteem or self-confidence. Visualisation is a powerful tool for goal setting. Start with a few small goals and make them just slightly challenging. Visualisation is also a renowned relaxation technique. You can use it to visualise overcoming your fear or use it to invoke calm whenever you feel overwhelmed by your fear. The brain’s response to imagined scenarios is often on par to its response to real life success and failure so make visualisation part of your mental wellbeing toolkit.
(1) Appetite – Cancer Research Center, Division of Public Health Sciences, Seattle, 2016. Subjective mood and energy levels of healthy weight and overweight healthy adults on high and low-glycaemic load experimental diets