How to stop your mind from racing

February 2013

How to stop your mind from racing

If your mind is racing, the chances are that you are excited, stressed, or have information overload. People’s minds tend to race if they are experiencing feelings of anxiety, or when they have been studying, working intently and focusing upon a subject. You may want to stop your mind racing because you need to sleep, or because constant thoughts are interfering with your enjoyment of being present in the moment.

How you tackle a racing mind will depend upon why your mind is racing. A constant barrage of thoughts due to work overload for example, is an indication that you need to slow down, take more regular breaks, and engage in other activities to take your mind away from what you have been focusing on.

When your mind buzzes, but you want to sleep, it is best to get out of bed and do something for a short while. You may make a hot beverage or find a good book to read before returning to bed. Lying in bed and going over unwanted thoughts however, will only serve by making you feel more stressed or excited.

At any time of day or night, provided the situation is appropriate, you may decide to practice relaxation exercises. You can make your mind still and calm by slowing down your breathing, and taking breaths deep down into your stomach area. Concentrate on taking long, slow breaths in and out, and take no notice of distractions.

Visualization can be a helpful method for quietening down your mind also. You can practice the art of visualization either in a comfortable chair, or lying down somewhere you will not be disturbed. Close your eyes, and concentrate on your breathing until you begin to feel relaxed. You may then deepen your state of relaxation by tensing your muscles one by one and releasing them in turn. Begin at your toes, and work your way up your body to the top of your scalp.

Once you are extremely relaxed, visualize a pleasant scene, a favorite place, or a relaxing and enjoyable experience that makes you feel stress free and happy. Imagine what you would really see, hear, touch, taste and smell in order to increase the realness of the visualization. It may make you drift off to sleep, so only practice this method of quietening your mind when you are not in hurry to go anywhere.

When you have completed the visualization, you should feel calm, relaxed and refreshed. Your mind will also have stopped racing. Allow yourself to slowly come to, and wriggle your arms, legs, fingers and toes as you come back to reality before getting up from the position you are sitting or laying in.

Aids to help you quieten your mind can help stop racing thoughts in their tracks, and may be useful if you are unable to practice relaxation methods. Lavender oil, slow tempo music, a hot milky cereal drink or a hot bath will begin to quieten your mind.
Avoid stimulants such as caffeine, violent video games, excessive computer use and watching television when you want your thoughts to slow down. By reducing internal and external excitement, you can be better in control of the output of your thoughts.

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