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Published on November 14, 2018

How to Stop Racing Thoughts When Your Mind Won’t Let Up

How to Stop Racing Thoughts When Your Mind Won’t Let Up

If you could see a diagram of my brain and you could imagine every line was a thought, it would look like you’d given a room full of 4 year olds crayons and told them to draw on the floor of a huge room. I don’t think one thing at a time. As my family say “I think Auntie Winn”.

My Auntie Winn could think about 30 conversations at the same time and expect you to jump from discussing world politics to the qualities of a good rock cake in less time than it took to the boil the kettle. Apparently, I do that to my husband too, I can often hear him saying “I know you think we’ve had this conversation today, however I’ve a feeling you’re giving me an answer to a conversation we had last Thursday in the hot tub!”

So, racing thoughts and me are best friends, or are we?

I realized that while I can be thinking a thousand thoughts at once, I don’t suffer from overwhelm, how is that? How to stop racing thoughts?

In this article, I want to share how I silence my mind, create some space and why it’s so good to do personally and professionally.

Does Everyone Have Racing Thoughts?

Before I share these ideas, I want to share something that really shocked me.

I decided to ask my social media friends if they “suffered” from a racing mind as so many of my clients do. The response was a little alarming:

    100% of respondents said they felt overwhelmed with many saying they felt like their mind was crazy and “Switching off? What’s that!”

    From my over busy friends’ minds, it seems that it doesn’t just impact on your mind, it also impacts on your actions, what you get done in a day and even your ability to get a decent nights sleep!

    It really is time to get that mind to let up and give you some time isn’t it!

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    So how can we fix this?

    Here I’m going to share a few tools to help you put the brakes on, calm your mind and achieve more without letting any of the important thoughts slip through your head.

    How to Stop Racing Thoughts In Your Mind

    1. Listen to your mind – Think like a pro

    I realized that one of the skills I’ve learned since I became ill with Lupus is that, I’ve learned to think in the most powerful way possible.

    Every thought is processed. I’ve been using this practice for so many years and I appreciate that I don’t consciously do this anymore. However, at the start, you will have to structure your thinking. When I say processed, I mean I am aware of the nature of my thoughts. For instance:

      I could go on, however do you get the idea?

      Listen to what your head has to say and then process it. If you don’t take the time to learn to do this, then ask yourself what impact this could have on your brain space, actions and results?

      2. Calm the mind

        When you’ve learned to actually listen to all that chatter in your head, it’s time to calm the mind.

        Listening does not automatically equate to it all magically disappearing. And calming the mind doesn’t require a tropical paradise, a massage and the sounds of nature to achieve a bit of brain space.

        For some clients, they’ve discovered the fastest way to shut their brains up is to crank up the music, so they literally can’t hear anything except their favourite song.

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        For others, 5 minutes in the garden is enough to make them rethink. I wouldn’t say there’s only one thing that takes you to a calm place, I’d have at least 12 physical things you can do to calm your mind down.

        That way, whether you have a hyper mind with excitement, anger, too much going on or feeling completely overwhelmed by life, you have different ideas to work.

        3. The Hi, Welcome, Good morning Game

        For me, sometimes a walk under the big oak trees is enough; other times, I just find myself getting even more flustered as the thoughts fight for my attention. On those occasions I found this really simple exercise quietens my mind and makes me smile:

        It’s so simple and yet works every time for me. All I do is visualize 10 people that I’ve met that week and visualize the first word I said to them. I’ve usually said something like “Great to see you” or “Hello” or “Welcome to my event!”

        I love meeting people and I host many different kinds of events, so people are pleased to see me and we are looking forward to our time together. What a great set of emotions and feelings to recreate in my head.

        How could you use my welcome exercise to remind you of something in your week that makes you feel good? (This also works on ear worms too!)

        4. Focus the mind

        When a coaching client arrives, they tend to start our session by talking so fast that I’m not sure even they can hear half of what they’re saying! After about 20 minutes, they are out of breath like they’ve been for a run, and their shoulders seem a little lighter as they’ve dumped the contents of their head on to me.

        What is happening when a client does this is they are:

        • Becoming more aware of what is going on in their head. Sometimes actually hearing the truth for the first time themselves!
        • Putting everything in front of them metaphorically so they can work out what to work on and what to dump. I call it ditch it or deal with it. And it works wonders on “To do” lists too!
        • Noticing how everything in their head impacts on them — physically and emotionally.
        • Challenging the beliefs they are holding around their perception of reality.

        And that’s just for starters! Read on for the next step.

        5. Create a plan of action

        Once you can see what is going on, you can create a plan of action that moves you forward.

        Focus means “the main or central point of something, especially of attention or interest” and this is what you need to calm an overwhelmed head of racing thoughts.

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        While you may not have a coach to work with, create some ways to empty everything out of your head and focus on what you need/want to do. These could include:

        • Arrange to meet with a friend or colleague and agree that “without judgement” they will listen and not interrupt. Agree that you will donate an hour to enable them to do the same.
        • One Facebook friend told me that their “cure to a racing mind” was to “disappear to bed with a pen and notebook to write it all down.” While in theory that is a good idea, I asked them if this worked for them, and they said sometimes. Could that be because they’ve waited until bedtime to process everything and get it out, instead of dealing with it when it was really a problem? Journaling can store up a lot of negative emotion if we keep reading it, so pay attention to how your notes make you feel. Is it really beneficial to you or do you need to change the way you write?
        • Make the time to focus. Do you need to put it in the diary or will you natural make the time to do this?
        • Create a list of all the things you could do for all the things you have whirling around in your head. Make it a long list. Dismiss nothing.
        • Play the ditch it or deal with it game. So often what we think we should be stressing about is actually someone else’s definition of important, therefore ask yourself “does this really matter to me?

        6. Less on your to do list

        Years ago, people would answer “How are you?” with “I’m fine, thanks” or “I’ve had a bad cold but I’m getting better now, thanks!” However today’s reply is far more likely to be “Busy, how are you?”

        Busy is not an emotion or feeling!

          Many of us have a busy mind because we are so busy. More and more I’m being asked to help professionals and organization to create coach-able strategies to manage their time. Here’s a few of those ideas to help you with your racing mind:

          Stop over thinking things.

          We often over think how long a task that we hate doing is going to take and so put it off and thus it gets to stick around in your head!

          Set a timer and know how long a task takes. Many clients have been able to clear a whole task from their head because their perception of its impact on their day and productivity has been changed.

          Allow more time.

          Contrary to the first top tip, we also underestimate how long other things take to do.

          If you know a job will take an hour, allow 1.5 hours. This means if it doesn’t take that long, you’ve just made some brain space for yourself too, so it’s a win win situation.

          Choose your words wisely.

          Have you ever noticed how many sayings we have around words related to time? I really want some Me time. I never have the time. I know you’ve got a lot on, but make the time. I don’t want to spend my time telling you what to do, etc, etc.

          Ask yourself if your choice of words free up your mind or make it even busier?

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          Don’t get side-tracked.

          We all have alarms and reminders that ping up at us. Even our household appliance now bleeps at us saying “Hey, I’m ready, give me your attention!” Turn them off.

          If you know you have a lot on, choose what you can hear carefully. Just like the person turning the music up so they can’t hear their own thoughts. Our ability to process what is going on in our heads can be impacted on by the email ping or the notification sounds.

          I have seen presentations where we’ve been told the best course of action is Eisenhower’s matrix for time management, which asks you to place every task (or thought) into a grid. The blocks are labelled: Urgent, less urgent, important and less important.

          While I’ve seen clients create their own version of this to great success. I also seen new clients who have told me that it takes them hours to complete the grid and so they get no work done and end up with even more flying around inside their heads!

          That’s enough to drive anyone insane! What works for one person does not mean it will work for you. You could try relabelling Eisenhower matrix as my clients to make it personal to you, to encourage you to use it.

          Alternatively, there is an app for everything. What about finding an app that enables you to empty your head. I love Wunderlist for enabling me to create some space in my head. In this way, you can put to one side thoughts while you concentrate on what is important right now.

          7. Ditch that guilt

          And lastly, if you have a brain that is running away with you, ditch the guilt because I wouldn’t mind betting you’ll free up a lot of space with that 1 action!

          Guilt is one of those emotions that causes us to process things again and again and again. Look for the guilt in your thoughts, analyze why it exists and get rid of it.

          Final Thoughts

          It’s totally normal if you find your thoughts racing in your mind all the time. What you need to do is to really listen to your thoughts and take some concrete actions about those thoughts.

          Forcing yourself to silence those thoughts is not the most efficient way in the long-run. Time to face these thoughts and find what works best for you to deal with these racing thoughts.

          Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

          More by this author

          Mandie Holgate

          Coach, International BEST Selling Author, Speaker & Blogger helping thousands around the world.

          How to Enjoy Parenting Teens and Help Your Kids Thrive What Happiness Is and Is Not: The True Meaning of Being Happy 13 Tips to Face Your Fears, Grow with Them and Enjoy the Ride How to Stop Racing Thoughts When Your Mind Won’t Let Up How to Overcome Your Irrational Fears (That Stop You from Succeeding)

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          Last Updated on April 23, 2019

          13 Ways Happy People Think and Feel Differently

          13 Ways Happy People Think and Feel Differently

          Let me begin by being 100% frank with you – everyone is capable of happiness.

          Happiness is first a choice but it also takes persistence to maintain. Happiness is our birth right and my mission is to help as many people as I can live their happiest life.

          My mission is to spread the message that everyone deserves happiness.

          To live a happy life; however, you must do the work, gain the necessary knowledge, and increase your awareness.

          You must fully embody this state and begin to think and feel happiness on every level of your being.

          Often times, excuses present themselves and our mind gives us the reasons why we can’t be happy:

          “I am too busy right now to focus on happiness”

          “I will be happy when I finish school, when I have the money, when I am in the right relationship, when I have kids, when my children are older….”

          “I would have had a happy life if this traumatic event had never happened”

          “I don’t deserve happiness”

          EVERYONE deserves happiness. The reason that you are here right now is because you have a purpose and you are on the earth to enjoy your journey.

          Think BIGGER than your excuses. Push FARTHER than your complaints.

          Don’t be pulled away from greatness. Get uncomfortable. At least these are what happy and successful people do on a daily basis.

          This article highlights the top 13 tips and tricks of how happy people think and feel.

          If you would like to begin embodying this life-changing state, then… Here are the 13 ways Happy People Think and Feel Differently:

          1. Happy People Put Happiness First

          Happy people have made the decision that their end goal is happiness.

          Every situation, event, bad day ultimately ends with happiness.

          To them, happiness is equivalent to sleep and water – it is a necessity to their life. To live an unhappy life is to have never lived at all.

          The happy person asks,

          “What would be the point of living if every day and moment were filled with negativity?”

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          “Why would I deplete my energy on negativity when I expend less to be positive?”

          They make happy-based decisions which means in EVERY MOMENT they choose happiness.

          If their circumstances can’t change then they instead change their perspective, they look for the silver lining in the negative.

          Happy people don’t let negativity steal their moments away – a positive mindset always prevails.

          If you ask a happy person how their day was, they will always answer your question with a highlight or a lesson learned.

          2. Happy People Embrace Pain

          I know what you are thinking –

          “No one is ALWAYS happy”

          or …

          “Even happy people get in bad moods”

          and …

          These statements are absolutely accurate.

          Happy people aren’t always happy and they DO get into bad moods. They get overwhelmed, they feel defeated, and their feelings get hurt.

          Happy people aren’t invincible and they feel pain just like everyone else. The only difference between happy people and people who let negativity run their lives is that…

          Happy people quickly acknowledge their pain and they make a decision to find a way to transform their pain into something greater. They also use these 13 simple ways to shake off the sadness.

          Happy people admit the negativity they feel and they do what it takes to get back into their natural state: happiness.

          When your end goal is happiness, then you will find a way to achieve it no matter how much strength you have to muster.

          3. Happy People Have a Happy Self-Image

          We all have an image in our minds that we subconsciously live up to.

          The reason that change is so hard is because our subconscious mind is programmed to live by how we define ourselves.

          How are you currently defining yourself?

          For happy people, they see themselves with a smile, positive outlook, and/or a bounce in their step. When an event or situation arises that brings in a negative emotion, they quickly change their state to resemble their natural self-image.

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          When happy people are in a bad mood, it feels unusual to them because feeling negative isn’t aligned with how they see themselves.

          When they feel upset, they acknowledge the negativity and look for a solution to bring their emotions to the level of how they perceive themselves.

          Look at how you define yourself today – your mind and body are always trying to live up to the definition it is taught to believe.

          Your body’s job is to keep you in a “normal” state because this is where it feels most comfortable.

          If your self-image is happy, then your mind and body will naturally be brought back to where it feels at home. Your actions will be a clue to how you define yourself.

          4. Happy People Have a Strong Support System

          The happiest people know that it takes a village and they lean on others for support.

          Happy people feel comfortable reaching out for help when they feel that their resistances are overpowering them. They quickly sense their negativity and they tell somebody.

          Happy people ask for assistance when they can’t figure out a problem. Seeking help takes strength and it never gets in the way of their self-worth. Happy people appreciate the wisdom that their support system provides.

          They have strong connections with the people who are close to them. They never trudge through tough times alone because jeopardizing their happiness for too long would be detrimental to their well-being.

          5. Happy People Safeguard Their Minds from Negative Triggers

          Warding off negativity is almost impossible when we live in a society that lives by what went wrong and feeds off of what could go wrong. News travels instantaneously so it would be unrealistic to shut this out of your life completely.

          However, one strategy that happy people use to safeguard their minds is regulating their environment.

          We have a lot of control on how we allow our environments to affect us. We can control our social media feed, the television shows and movies we watch, the books that we read, the people that we spend our time with, and the places that we hang out.

          If happiness is your end goal, then take a good look at what is bringing you down. What triggers your unhappiness? See if there is anything in your environment that can be changed……

          What we listen to, read, and who we hang out with influence our mind, what we think about, what we worry about, our reactions, and behaviors.

          Happy people know what triggers a feeling of negativity and it feels out of alignment for them so they do what it takes to avoid it.

          They might regulate their social media news feed to reflect the information that brings them positive energy. They might regulate the people that they spend their time with. It is important to hang out with like-minded people.

          What are you triggers? How can you avoid the negativity in your environment?

          These are ways that happy people regulate their environment and safeguard their minds.

          6. Happy People Know When to Say “No”

          Happy people know when to sit one out and say “no.” They do this to protect their happiness and well-being.

          Life gets overwhelming – a lot of people need our attention and the to do list can seem never ending.

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          Happy people give themselves permission to take the day off and they feel comfortable with saying “no” when their stress levels begin to climb. They understand that those around them aren’t benefiting from someone who is frazzled, overwhelmed, and tired.

          A happy person identifies their negative emotion and then they quickly treat it to bring themselves back to their “normal” state, so that they can be at their best for not only themselves but for those around them, too.

          A simple “no” can ultimately mean many more “yes’s” in the future because happiness has a long battery life. You can take a look at Leo Babauta’s article The Gentle Art of Saying No and learn to say no.

          7. Happy People Are Good Evaluators

          Happy people can quickly sense when something is off with themselves or others. They are very intuitive to happiness levels. When someone isn’t quite right, they are the first ones to notice.

          Being able to evaluate happiness means that you can identify when negativity is lingering around for too long.

          We all have bad days; however, the happy person evaluates often and quickly intervenes.

          In other words, happy people frequently evaluate their state and immediately change when their pessimism is overshadowing their joy.

          8. Happy People Bring Other People Up

          What goes on inside of us is mirrored into our physical world.

          What we think about literally consumes our life and is displayed in our work, relationships, and attitude.

          Happy people naturally feel good inside and about themselves so they treat others the way that they treat themselves. It never feels forced to give a compliment or to help out a stranger.

          When we are truly happy with ourselves, everyone around us has a better experience. Happy people are kind to themselves and because of this, it feels natural to them to want to make others’ happy, too.

          9. Happy People Go After Their Dreams

          Happy people are always following the joyful path. They make happy-based decisions and because of this, they always end up where they want to be.

          It’s absolutely impossible to be happy by following an undesirable path, which is quite opposite for unhappy people.

          Most people journey through life on a path they think they are “supposed” to be own. Warning signs (negativity) are often ignored because they truly believe that these feelings are a normal part of life.

          Negativity is NOT normal.

          The happiest people investigate the negativity in their life and quickly analyze the results. This process allows them to get back on the joyful path which ends in a desirable outcome.

          Follow your happiness and your dreams will come true (If that isn’t motivation then I don’t know what is!)

          In addition to happiness, here are 14 amazing things that happen when you live your passion.

          10. Happy People Never Sweat the Small Stuff

          The only expectation that the happy person has is that they remain in a joyful state.

          They rarely have expectations for the events and people in their lives because they know that this is a sure way to get let down.

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          The happiest people take life as it comes – you could say that they roll with the punches. When you don’t have expectations, thenyoue can just sit back and watch how beautifully life unfolds.

          Happy people understand that bad things are inevitable, they are a part of life – The car will break, the kids will make mistakes, people will be late, and dinner will burn.

          If it’s not anything seriously affecting their lives, then they don’t give their energy to it.

          11. Happy People Rarely Have to Prove That They Are Right

          Happy people remember that it’s more important to live up to what they believe. When you live your life aligned with your belief system, then there is no need to explain or prove yourself to others.

          Differences in opinions are inevitable, but the happiest of people know it’s wasted energy to defend their position.

          It is more effective to simply show people, through actions, how you think, feel, and what you believe.

          Energy is saved, arguments are diminished, and credibility/respect are gained when we live by what we believe.

          12. Happy People Smile (Even When They Don’t Want To)

          Smiling is one of the healthiest things we can do; and happy people use this simple trick quite often.

          It has been proven that smiling has the ability to boost your immune system, decrease stress levels, and can even make you look younger. The benefits of smiling have even been backed up by science.[1]

          Better yet, smiling is contagious. When you engage in a quick smile, you are likely to brighten someone else’s day along with your own. It is no wonder why happy people smile often!

          13. Happy People Live Life in the Present Moment.

          When we are genuinely happy, we are living for the moment.

          Happy people let go of the past, enjoy the present, and look forward to the future. They take the moments for what they are worth – they only invest their energy in what feels right to them.

          Everyone is capable of living a happy-centered life. You deserve a life that you desire – your dream life. All you have to start doing is make happy-based decisions TODAY.

          In every moment, decide on what makes you happy – decide on what gets you excited. Stop doing what you don’t love, don’t listen to the people that you dislike.

          If you are engaging in something that isn’t bringing you joy, then quit doing it. Listen to your heart, stop ignoring the warning signs (negativity) because they are there for a reason.

          I have observed, studied, and interviewed some of the happiest and most successful people along with some of the most miserable and self-loathing.

          It starts with one decision – happiness.

          The happiest, most successful people choose happiness with EACH and EVERY decision. And you can start doing this today.

          Featured photo credit: Autumn Goodman via unsplash.com

          Reference

          [1] Harvard Business Review: The Science Behind the Smile

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