There are racing thoughts and then, there are racing thoughts. Everyone has those time periods when they can’t slow down and turn off their mind. For those who struggle with anxiety disorders, these rapid intrusions can hamper daily functionality. Your default setting might be worst-case scenarios. You use phrases like “my thoughts are going a mile a minute” or “my brain won’t let me sleep.”
Again, this situation can be caused by a particularly hectic or stressful time in your life. But if those racing thoughts feel beyond your control, there’s a strong likelihood that anxiety is the culprit.
Anxiety disorders are common. In fact, over the course of their lifetimes, 30% or adults will suffer with an anxiety disorder. You need help and therapy may be the best option.
How Anxiety Therapy Helps You Deal With Racing Thoughts
There are many useful steps available to you. The problem is that anxiety can make it very difficult to recognize any solutions. Working with a therapist gives you a much-needed calm, outside voice. In anxiety therapy, your counselor serves as an experienced guide. You’ll learn valuable coping skills like:
Let’s start with the basics. When panic strikes, the first order of business is to calm yourself down. Breathing exercises have the power to short-circuit the fight-or-flight response. This gets you to a place where solutions feel possible again.
Another soothing choice is to repeat a word or phrase that calms you. Research shows that this practice of mantras can directly relax the part of your brain that anxiety has negatively activated. The words you use for your mantra are entirely up to you.
Anxiety teaches you to dwell in the past and to dread the future. Mindfulness brings you back to the present moment. This is the only place you can control.
What can you do to redirect your thoughts to something more pleasant or productive? Your therapist may suggest:
- Arts and crafts
- Coloring books
- Listening to or playing music
- Get outside to move, walk, exercise
- Find a movie that you can get lost in
Your body and mind love physical activity. It could be exercise, playing sports, or even rearranging stuff in your home. There is a huge body of research highlighting how good movement is for you. Before your thoughts get racing, maybe you should get racing on the treadmill or in a spin class.
Racing thoughts can make you feel confused and out of control. Journaling counters both feelings. Keep track of your panic attacks, your triggers, and your responses. You’ll be able to refer to this journal to remind yourself that you have far more power than you realize. Also, the simple act of writing serves to derail the negative, rapid-fire thought patterns.
Here’s where your anxiety therapist can inspire you to major changes. Anxiety is a convincing liar. The racing thoughts it provokes are often habitual and usually based on falsehoods. Cognitive distancing exercises can help you conjure up alternative narratives.
Every time a worst-case scenario tries to highjack your thought process, counter it with a different explanation. For example, let’s say someone has not replied to a text. Anxiety may tell you it’s because you said or did something bad. Before those thoughts can hit the ground running, remind yourself of other, perhaps more feasible explanations. That person may have forgotten to charge their phone or is busy bringing their kid to soccer practice.
Another cognitive distancing tool is write out the thought you are having trouble unhooking your mind from. You might then count how many times in a day your mind produces that thought. With practice over time, you will start to be able to step back from your racing mind.
Is Anxiety Therapy Right For You?
If racing thoughts are making your life unbearable, we should talk soon. There are proven treatment approaches available to you right now. To learn more, reach out today to discuss how anxiety therapy can help you. Let’s set up a brief phone consultation and get you started on the path toward healing and recovery.