4 Ways to Cope With Invasive, Racing Thoughts
Imagine: You're winding down after a long day. You've completed your skincare routine, put on a pair of cozy pajamas, and snuggled up in bed. But instead of sailing off to sleep, you're wide awake thinking about a dozen things. Did you forget to lock the door? Did you send out that important work email? How will you complete that project in time for the big meeting? When do you need to renew your passport? Your calf is cramping—should you look up the symptoms online?
If this sounds annoyingly familiar, chances are you're experiencing the all-to-common phenomenon of racing thoughts. When you have racing thoughts, it feels like your mind is going 100 miles per minute—and there's no way to pump the brakes. (In many cases, racing thoughts can lead to insomnia.) While racing thoughts can be a byproduct of clinical mental conditions like ADHD, obsessive compulsive disorder, or depression, it's often a symptom of anxiety.
"Anxiety is the emotion tasked with problem-solving and responding to crises," explains Tiffany N. Lindley, MS, LPC-S, NCC, owner of On Epiphany Lane in Dallas, Texas. "Sometimes our brains aren't really clear on the difference between a problem and a crisis. Our fight, flight, and freeze responses [are] there to protect us from danger and create physical changes to prepare our body for battle or retreat."
But just because you experience racing thoughts doesn't mean it always has to be this way. To help, we asked mental health professionals for their expert-approved strategies for breaking out of the cycle of detrimental racing thoughts.
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