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How do you calm racing thoughts and a sense of overwhelm?

Let me tell you a wee story…

I woke up this morning with a bunch of not so pleasant thoughts and feelings rushing around my wee head; but I also had a plan for the day.

So I got myself up and started moving. Always a fantastic way to get out of your head when it’s playing up.

Anyway, as I started my morning routines my thoughts shifted. Significantly. Which is great, right? I was struck with a moment of inspiration and had lots of ideas. So I sacked the original plan of study and make the most of the inspiration.


A book arrived in the post.

Full of the most delicious (for me anyway) tools and techniques that I was just giddy to dive into.

Now I find myself starting to feel out of control with all the thoughts of all the things:

The study that needs to be done per the original plan; the deadlines I have to meet with that; the massive amount of work that I generally have to get through on this course; and the enthusiasm and inspiration of the writing; the ideas; tasks that need to be accomplished to make those ideas reality; and now a book that’s got my mind on fire too! I want to read it so much and devour every last word….and the house work that needs to be done too; and the exercise I gotta do; and the texts that I need to reply to; and…..ALL the things just flooding my head and making me feel dizzy, a total thinking frenzy, and honestly, a little out of control.

Does that feel familiar?

When that happens, it’s easy to freak out, my “not think about it” go-to is to sit and watch junk TV, play some games on my phone, drink tea, and eat rubbish.

Basically anything that’s going to totally distract me from my thoughts and make me feel calm. Not thinking. It calms my nervous system and gets me out of my head.

But, that doesn’t help at all in the long run. For me, in these situations, it ultimately just makes even more things pile up and then I start to panic because I’ve not gotten ANYTHING done and it can kick off a nasty wee spiral of self-criticism. Not something any of us want to be in, right?

Top tips:

Eat some healthy food - rather than grabbing crisps and chocolate, have a proper lunch.

Get that body and brain nourished.

Play “brain games” INSTEAD of the wee alien shooter or spider solitaire - just for a few minutes.

We all have things we know will calm us down, chill us out when we feel like we're out of control. Often, these can be unhealthy habits. So if you look at what your own go-to's are, think about what it is that's actually making you feel better, and swap the details out for a 'better' option. Maybe hitting the gym is your thing but you don't have the time in the moment or perhaps gymming it up is an unhealthy habit for you - so is it the movement or change of scenery, or perhaps it's the human connection and social aspect that's really what you need....and find a way to do that.

For me, again, a quick 15 minutes still-point meditation or a short tapping routine follows up my initial calming actions. Something to get me centred and help me focus once I've calmed myself.

It's one thing to calm yourself down and get out of your head, but you do have to re-engage with them at some point, so I definitely find that meditation, focused deep slow breathing, and tapping really help me with this.

For any of the science geeks out there (yay!) here's a wee link to a journal article from NCBI that you might find interesting.

If you want to know how to do Vagal Breathing, the Body Mind Centre has a great wee instructional post here

First post on the new blog done, plaster ripped off, the world did not crack or stop spinning, I did not die, nor did anyone else. I will call this a roaring success!

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