Self

15 Ways To Calm Your Racing Mind & Find Your Inner Joy

Photo: Cast-Of-Thousands
woman with pink hair smiles serenely

Whether it's work, relationship troubles or your never-ending to-do list, stress can be a killer.

Overthinking, dwelling on worries, or becoming preoccupied can lead to unnecessary tension that interferes with sleep, negatively affects your well-being, and steals your joy.

These are unhelpful patterns, and if your mind gets used to them, it can be difficult to unwind and reset your brain. But it doesn't have to be this way. Know that it is possible to change the channel on your racing thoughts and unproductive thinking and instead set the stage for calm and rest.

RELATED: 6 Most-Effective Ways To Stop Thinking & Clear Your Mind

Create a serene environment

Working in or coming home to an organized, beautiful place can set the tone for the rest of your day. Clutter and reminders of more stuff to do can unleash the psychic vampires that will chip away at your happiness bit by bit. Pretty up your space, put out a bouquet or a few cheerful pillows, and notice how it can lift your spirits in minutes.

When it's time for bedtime, ensure you're set up in a distraction-free zone. That means no electronics, lights, or piles of work to cut into your REM sleep. Dim lights, soft and sensual fabrics, peaceful music — even a weighted blanket — are calm-inducing options instead.

Address your worries head-on

When possible, do something to alleviate the stress by resolving the underlying issue. This might mean having a difficult conversation with someone in your life or working extra hours to get a task done. The only way out is through.

Other times, simply admitting your feelings can make all the difference. Name it to tame it, like saying aloud, "I am really frustrated that" and then watch the emotion melt away.

RELATED: 8 Natural Remedies For Anxiety & Stress That Are Incredibly Powerful

Shift your mindset

When overwhelm hits and your amygdala gets hijacked, the following tends to happen:

  • You lack focus, with thoughts all over the place.
  • You blow a problem out of proportion.
  • You doubt your abilities and your worth.
  • You catastrophize and imagine the worst possible scenarios.

Regaining control — and calm — happens when you are able to slow down your thoughts, get grounded, and turn on your rational and compassionate brain.

Notice when you're jumping to conclusions and wonder if there may be an alternate explanation. Forgive yourself if you've made a mistake — it doesn't mean everything is lost and don't let it ruin your day. Ask yourself what the worst case might look like and consider how you might deal with it.

Be your own best friend and tell yourself the very thing you'd tell a friend: "Trust yourself. You are strong, capable, and deserving of love, happiness, and success. You'll be ok. This is going to pass."

Another trick is to declare that you're not going to deal with your worries right now. Say it aloud, "I'm not going to think about this now" and schedule it when you can look at it with fresh eyes.

Engage in distracting or relaxing activities

If controlling your environment, dealing with your problem, or changing how you look at this situation can't happen for you at that moment, you can always try interrupting your thoughts for a quick win.

RELATED: This Is Your Brain On Anxiety

Here are 15 little things you can do to stop your racing mind in its tracks and feel more relaxed instantly.

1. Move your body.

The best way to get rid of excess physical or mental energy is to express it. Walk, run, skip, dance; whatever suits you. Better yet, do it outside and feel the warmth of the sun on your face.

2. Inhale essential oils.

Put a little lavender on a tissue to induce calm, and if you want to spark joy indulge in some bergamot, along with grapefruit to uplift and inspire.

3. Take a few deep breaths.

You can do this at a stoplight, at your desk, or as you lay down to sleep. Breathe in through your nose to the count of four, hold for four, and then breathe out through your nose for four.

RELATED: 13 Small Things Anxiety Makes You Do

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4. Sip some herbal tea.

If you're not a tea drinker, a mindful coffee can have the same effect with the added benefit of a jolt of caffeine for focus (though not advisable in the evening if you're attempting to get some sleep).

5. Read a book.

A few chapters of a who-done-it mystery or enthralling romance novel might be just the thing to transport you into another space and time.

6. Watch a comedy.

The all-news channel might keep you up to date on the pandemic or world conflict, but your favorite just-for-laughs segment or romantic comedy will do more for your mood in just minutes.

7. Do a word puzzle.

Give your mind something else to focus on and build neuropathways at the same time. Your future self will thank you.

RELATED: 5 Ways The Most Successful People Turn Anxiety Into Productivity

8. Sing your heart out.

This activates your vagus nerve and releases acetylcholine, telling your body to "chill out," so you can feel safe and regulated.

9. Write out your worries and let them remain on the page.

Journaling is a way to process your emotions and creating a daily habit can help keep your thoughts in check, so they don’t build up. Alternatively, you can keep a worry box or ceremoniously burn your worry pages to symbolically eliminate them.

10. Tap your way to calm using the Emotional Freedom Technique.

Release disrupted energy and restore balance to your body and mind.

RELATED: 4 Ways To Know If Your Anxiety Is Actually A Mental Illness

11.  Relax your shoulders with a massage or heating pad.

Or double your pleasure by getting your partner to give you a back rub.

12. Take a hot shower or soak in a skin-smoothing, aroma-filled bubble bath.

Whichever you choose, hydrotherapy can loosen tight muscles, improve circulation, and improve the quality of your sleep.

13. Indulge in a perfect square of dark chocolate.

Day or night you can’t beat its sinful goodness. Let its mood-boosting minerals do their work. For maximum happiness, reach for organic, fair-trade chocolate.

RELATED: Why Defining Anxiety & Anxiety Disorders Matters

14. Meditate for 10 minutes.

Let your thoughts come and go without judgment as you ground yourself in your breath and the present moment. Do this daily to prevent stress and build your resilience.

15. Visualize your happy place.

Have a go-to place in mind whenever the need arises. My go-to scene is complete with warm sunshine and a protective bubble, while I am gently swinging in a hammock in a lavender field surrounded by the laughter of loved ones.

If your racing thoughts are interfering with your day-to-day functioning, depriving you of significant sleep, or are persistent or distressing, it's time to get professional help so you can explore more comprehensive treatment options.

Otherwise, if you're managing a lot right now, it's reasonable to have racing thoughts and an overactive mind. Beyond the little things you can do, the most important thing to learn is that it’s ok to feel overwhelmed from time to time and especially when life throws you a few curveballs. Let self-compassion rule and you'll be at your best again soon.

RELATED: The One Mindfulness Technique That Eliminates Anxiety Instantly

Lisa Petsinis is a certified career and life coach who works with individuals to ditch their overwhelm and create more joy, meaning, and success. For more, visit Lisa's website

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This article was originally published at Lisa Petsini's Blog. Reprinted with permission from the author.