You know the feeling…
You finally climb into bed after a long, stressful day, and are greeted by thoughts of anxiety, rumination, and uncertainty.
It almost seems that there is a one-to-one correlation with your head hitting the pillow and some neural function being activated that says, “Alright, pal… Time to panic.”
Resolving this doesn’t come from just bearing down and doing more work… it comes from learning to quiet your racing mind.
Three Ways to Quiet Your Racing Mind:
- Deep Breathing
Diaphragmatic breathing is exactly what it sounds like. Breathing through your diaphragm instead of through your chest.
As humans, we’re trained to breathe short, shallow chest breaths to match the stressful demands of life. However, by doing this, we are severely limiting the amount of oxygen getting to our brains. When this happens, a cascade of negative responses occurs, causing the brain’s basic functions to become limited.
In this state, anxiety rules. Thoughts are jumbled, tasks are forgotten, and the mind begins to race.
If you want to quiet your racing mind, begin by employing a regular deep breathing practice.
I struggled with racing thoughts for many years.
It wasn’t just in the evenings when going to bed… It was upon first waking in the morning, in the office, and in the afternoon while trying to be present with my family.
Racing thoughts significantly reduce your ability to be in the moment.
To fight this, I began a nightly gratitude journal. Before bed, I spent 10-15 minutes writing down 3-5 things I was grateful for during that day.
If your racing thoughts are taking away from your ability to be in the moment, start a gratitude journal.
If you plan well, you will overcome racing thoughts. If you fail to plan, they will rule you.
I plan out my day using a system called day scripting. Essentially, I know at what time I’m going to be doing what task through the entire workday, including meals and exercise.
By planning my day, all I’m left to do is wake up and execute. This frees my mind to do deep focused work, rather than being anxious about the next task.
If your racing thoughts are causing you to be reactive rather than proactive, plan.