Having a restless head can feel like you’ve completely lost control of your thinking. The racing thoughts fill your mind completely, leaving no mental space to do anything else with your time. Taking any action becomes a difficulty and transferring energy to doing something meaningful instead can seem impossible. With every passing minute, the mood becomes more and more impacted.
These episodes can frequently feel overwhelming, and many times I find it hard to do something to make them easier on me. Often they find me at the moment when I least expect them: the moment I stretch my legs on the sofa after a very long day; the moment I bike back home and the rain keeps hugging my back; or just the moment when boredom drops by to say hello.
I’ve been experimenting for a while on what I can do to regain control of my thoughts and navigate the focus towards something that adds to my life. One of the things that so far has worked for me is a simple structure of a four-step approach that helps me convert these situations of a thoughts-avalanche into moments when I end up patting myself on the back. I wanted to share these with you.
“Four Steps to Re-Focus on What Matters When The Thoughts Just Can’t Stop Racing”
Whenever I find myself in a situation where my thoughts just keep on shooting themselves out of my personal cannon, I start to meditate. Even if that meditation is shitty - and in the thought-spinning situation, it frequently is - somehow I end it slightly more focused than I was. Slightly more relaxed. With a slightly higher acceptance of my thoughts and feelings.
While meditation works for me, do whatever feels right for you (ie. music, call a friend, a yoga position). The goal is to become calmer and create brain space for anything else, that whatever is triggering the avalanche of sentences in your mind.
Do something. Anything small will do.
The next step is doing something, and anything small will do. Here, I usually aim at doing the first step in the clean-up process of a living room. I pick up a mug I left somewhere after I had my tea. I put my boyfriend's dishes into the dishwasher. I water the plants. I make my bed. Anything small, that makes me feel like I can give myself a tiny pat on the shoulder because
“I’m doing something”
Time for the big guns.
Now I’m feeling inspired. I mean, if I already got up, I might just as well do something meaningful. Importantly though, I always keep in mind my long-term goals at this stage.
I pick one of them and try to do at least the tiniest, tiniest thing that could bring me one step closer to their realization. Depending on my energy level, the action I will take could also be bigger.
For smaller actions, think anything tiny that gets you in the direction of your goals. Signing up for that online sports class you wanted to attend. Downloading a meals plan. Drafting a post for Instagram. Setting a meeting with yourself to reflect on your 2020 goals (it’s never too late!)
For bigger actions, maybe it will be that jog you wanted to do as you’re dreaming of running a marathon. Maybe it will be an hour of that data science course that you’ve set your mind on. Or that coaching article that you wanted to write for a while, but had no idea what it could be about.
Anyways, you get my point. Do anything that gets you closer to your goals, no matter how big or small.
Pat yourself on the back again.
Well done! Hopefully, you’re feeling better at this stage. If you do, I find appreciating yourself for the effort you put in into shifting your situation an important part of this whole exercise. Celebrate even your small successes.
This is how I try to deal with the situations when I feel like my racing mind gets overwhelming. It might not work every single time, but whenever it does, I end up feeling very proud that I managed to get my energy back.
And that’s how I dealt with it today, so now excuse me as I pat myself on the back.