Everyone’s thoughts race for different reasons, and every person experiences a racing mind differently. That’s why we created the guide below, to give you the right tools for your specific situation.
Just determine how your racing thoughts feel right now, and well show you concrete ways to stop them ASAP.
Which of the following do you feel strongest when your thoughts are racing?
Whatever your answer, find tailored solutions below.
Racing thoughts feel overwhelming
You’re trying to get a project done, and your thoughts are coming too quickly. They’re not bad thoughts, but you need to get to sleep and your brain won’t stop running. During the day, you might feel so overwhelmed by the flood, that you just shut down.
Does that sound like you?
Your goal here is to try to slow the flow, by reminding yourself that you’ll get to it all in due time. You can convince your brain to slow down by showing yourself you’re on top of everything. Do this by getting it all down on paper.
Start making a list
If you’re having trouble sleeping and can’t get your brain to shut up, keep the lights low, and start making a pen-and-paper list of everything on your mind.
Your thoughts might initially speed up, but then will quickly slow down as this becomes a chore, not just a mental free-for-all. Once your brain starts seeing this as a structured activity, in the dim light, you’ll likely feel sleepy and your racing thoughts will slow.
Your mind is racing with exciting possibilities
Sometimes you have a bunch of great ideas, but too many are coming at once to keep track of. You feel excited by all the inspiration coming to you, but you have to get organized to make the most of it.
Here, you’ll want to have a dedicated place to list your thoughts — but an ordinary list isn’t enough. Here’s a strategy to tackle racing thoughts, when you want to capture them all: make a sticky note map.
Map your racing thoughts with sticky notes
To make a sticky note map of your racing thoughts, first grab a pad of sticky notes.
Write each thought as it comes up, without any regard for the order or what goes where. Simply write your thought, and pop the note onto the table or ground around you.
Once the flow of your thoughts starts slowing down, lay out all your notes in front of you. Do you see any patterns, or any way you could group them into reasonable categories? Make a note for each potential category, and line up the corresponding notes underneath.
From here, you can look for more patterns to further organize your thoughts, or just look over how your disparate thoughts came together.
Even though your thoughts are racing, they’re still useful and worthwhile – this technique helps you capture and use each nugget of inspiration without feeling overwhelmed.
Your racing thoughts are uncomfortable or scary
Unwanted negative thoughts can come from anxiety, OCD, depression, PTSD, or just at the end of a stressful work week. For many of us, right before bed is also prime time for unwanted negative thoughts to pop up.
In these situations, your technique will be one of either distraction or grounding – preferably both.
When your thoughts start going a mile a minute, take the following three steps:
Distract yourself productively
Grounding exercises actually help. It sounds dumb and you’ve probably heard it a million times before, but that’s for a reason:
Right now, find the 5 most interesting things you can see around you.
Then close your eyes and note the 4 most gripping sounds in your environment.
Keep your eyes closed and touch three things near you – it could just be your pants, your hair, and your desk. Pay attention to the textures and temperatures.
With eyes still closed, take a good whiff of the air you’re in. Then lift your arm and smell your armpit (lol)
Last thing: open your eyes, and grab your water bottle – see how the water tastes.
You can do all of the above in less than 1 minute (though it helps to take your time). These steps should give you a little distance from your thoughts — by distracting you in the grounding process.
And there are still other tools to help when you have unstoppable racing thoughts.
Alternatives are to watch TV to distract yourself, or even better — to engage someone in a conversation. Racing thoughts can be stopped by thinking of things to say, or by the simple act of focusing on someone else’s problems.
So if youre desperate to stop your racing thoughts, try opening up a chat at Supportiv – youll get to talk to someone immediately, and get your mind off your problems. You might even help them out and give yourself a mood boost.
Try it by clicking Chat Now.