How to Stop Your Mind from Racing: 10 Timely Tips
Sept 15, 2020
Description: Whether triggered by the pandemic, political unrest,
ADHD, medications, or emotional distress, a racing mind creates havoc to your thinking.
What does a racing mind feel like?
“I feel as if I’m on fast-forward. I’m thinking of three things at once.” When you feel scattered and unfocused, you can be your own worst enemy. You distract yourself with thoughts that fire too rapidly. Unfortunately, too many of the thoughts may be negative, causing additional frustration and stress.
Consequently, inadequate task completion, problem-solving, and decision making occurs. The more frazzled you are, the less attention you pay when trying to perform effectively. This happens even when you try to complete the most mundane tasks.
Self-Check for a Racing Mind
To assess if your mind tends to race, read each item on the following list and check all that apply to you.
__ 1. People tell me to slow down and stick to the point when I'm explaining something. __ 2. My thoughts move too quickly, and I forget what I'm talking about. __ 3. I don't take time to finish one thing before I move to another. __ 4. I don't listen well. The phrase in one ear and out the other describes me well. __ 5. I speak too quickly when leaving messages on others' voice mails. __ 6. I'm overcommitted and flooded by thoughts of tasks that need doing. __ 7. I keep worrying about all the things I have to do, or that could happen. __ 8. My unfinished work and projects are scattered all around my place.
If you check two or three items, you can benefit from consciously slowing down. Use the self-check to identify a goal and consider possible solutions. You will increase your chances of completing more tasks, achieving higher accuracy, and communicating your message more effectively. Indeed, you will feel less stressed and demoralized.
Why might your mind race?
The question might be, “Why shouldn’t my mind race given today’s’ uncertainties and stresses?” On the one hand, we are living in times most of us didn’t expect. So, it is likely that you might experience a racing mind more frequently. On the other hand, some conditions may lead to a racing mind. Such circumstances include the side effects of medications, rapid thinking style due to ADHD, emotional disorders, or sleepiness.
With ADHD, you may be vulnerable to a fast, impulsive thing style and tend to rush or be bored easily. With high stress, you might feel a lack of focus and control, and then jump from one thought to another. With a creative mind, you may have a non-stop capacity to come up with new ideas and options. With emotional challenges such as Bipolar Disorder or Generalized Anxiety Disorder, you might experience racing thoughts.
Regardless of the reasons for your racing mind, you can benefit from greater awareness of its effects on your mood and productivity.
What are the negative consequences of a racing mind?
A racing mind can propel you into overscheduling and over-commitment. When working remotely, you start different tasks without thinking ahead. You jump from house chores, to work assignments, to hobbies, or to surfing the Internet. It is not uncommon to hear complaints like, “I was rushing all day, but don’t feel like I accomplished anything.” A racing mind fosters rushing, feeling out of control, and lethargy. You’re always apologizing or feeling guilty, and you have frequent mishaps. You may spill drinks, drop papers, forget locations, make careless mistakes, and feel exhausted.
Experiencing a racing mind once in a while happens to most, given the stress and strain of current events, economic woes, and fear of illness. However, daily experiences of racing thoughts interfere with productivity and peacefulness.
You might ask yourself, “When I experience a racing mind, how am I affected?
If you observe some negative consequences of a racing mind, then why take action to quiet your racing mind?
How to stop a racing mind: 10 Timely Tips
- Focus on the present and ward off intrusive thoughts. Say, “Stop! Now is not the time to think about this. Now it is time to complete this task.”
- Become more mindful. When are you most likely to experience a racing mind? Does stress propel you into rapid speech or impulsive responses?
- Actively de-stress. Engage relaxing activities such as deep breathing, mediation, yoga, journaling, or singing.
- Take brief breaks during the day. Take five to ten minutes with your feet up. Or stretch or listen to music.
- Deal with bouts of untimely creativity. Make a list: “Great ideas that I can’t act upon now.” Post a sign: “I can’t assume on any more responsibilities until I finish this project or report.”
- Carve out quiet time for problem solving and decision-making. Some tasks require analytical thinking. You’ll need to gather information, use data, and follow directions when you are not interrupted or fatigued.
- Stop interrupting others. Practice listening more and interrupting less. Jot down your ideas and wait for others to complete their statements. Count silently to 10, or imagine the person begging for an opportunity to contribute.
- Get thoughts out of your head and on to paper. However, don’t end up with a 50-item “To Do” list. First, brainstorm all the tasks you need to do, next prioritize them, then guesstimate the time required for each job, and lastly, schedule in your planner.
- Think of yourself as a sprinter rather than a marathon runner. You may harness focus on one task when you plan to work for a shorter-than longer-periods of time. Given the stresses of working remotely or dealing with illness or caregiving, plan on working for 30-minute intervals with 5-minute breaks.
- Review your exercise and sleep routines. Better management of your sleep hygiene and exercise activities yields significant positive results in energy, alertness, and motivation.
If you experience a racing mind, assume that you will continue to fritter away time and effort unless you consciously try to change. You gain greater control, productivity, and satisfaction when using tips regularly.