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7 Ways to Stop Racing Thoughts

Are you experiencing ‘racing thoughts’? If you identify with fast, repetitive thought patterns about a particular topic, you might be experiencing this symptom, which sometimes associates with a level of anxiety and/or other mental health disorders.

Racing thoughts may be replays of past events which generated anxiety or sadness for you. They may also be worries about things that could happen in the future. A part of you may be able to see that these strings of thoughts are irrational and stemming from a place of fear.

When thoughts like these flood your mind, they drain your energy, stop you from living in the present moment, and can create a very overwhelming feeling. They can also make it harder to concentrate and focus on daily tasks, as well as decrease your ability to sleep well.

It is understandable that, if you experience racing thoughts, you would relate to a feeling of being out of control. This feeling is quite common, and yet it is overwhelming, it is important to not let it define you. What it means is that you are anxious and that your stress level is higher than usual.

 

Here are some ways you can work to calm your mind and stop these intrusive, racing thoughts:

 

1. Try alternative thinking.

Our mind usually worries about things it is convinced are true but, most of the time, are actually not true. Instead of trying to predict the worst outcome, try focusing on the possibility of a positive/ alternative outcome. For instance, if your partner seems distant and is texting a lot, you may jump to conclusions and assume they are mad at you. An alternative scenario could be that they are stressed about work, worried about a loved one, and so on. Take a step back, and analyze what’s most likely to happen. More often than not, the worst case scenario is not as likely as you think.

 

2. Exercise

Regular physical activity improves mental well-being and may be helpful during an episode of racing thoughts. Just 15 minutes of walking, jogging, or similar activities may help to settle the mind.

 

3. Mood-boosting Foods

Eating the right foods could improve overall mental well-being and help reduce racing thoughts and mood disorders.

Low-glycemic foods (low in sugar, high in protein) have been proven to help stabilize blood sugar levels and improve mental health. Good examples include lean meats, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and whole grains.

High-glycemic foods, on the other hand, cause a rapid rise (and subsequent crash) in blood sugar. This can negatively impact your mood, such as creating a spike in racing thoughts. High-glycemic foods include high-sugar, refined carbohydrates, and processed foods.

Foods that are high in antioxidants can help fight oxidative stress (cell damage) in the body. Health professionals recommend including these in your diet as a way to help control symptoms of these mental health conditions. High-antioxidant foods include berries, beans, nuts, citrus fruits, apples, and generally most fruits and vegetables.

 

4. Use a mantra.

A mantra sounds like a fancy yogi term; however, it is simply a phrase or word that you repeat to calm your mind. Repeating a mantra can take your mind off racing and/ or negative thoughts. You can use any word, sound, or saying you want. You could try something like, “Life is good,” or “Everything is OK.” Repeat your phrase over and over, and if your mind wanders, return to your mantra. You can practice this as a healthy distraction almost anytime, anywhere.

 

5. Focus on the present.

Returning your focus to the present will help you accept and let go of what you cannot control. It will also help you realize that you can’t change the past, and that the future hasn’t happened yet, so it’s a waste of time to keep thinking about them. (This doesn’t mean that you are unaware of what happened in the past or what is about to happen in the future.) Try taking a deep breath and asking yourself how you are feeling right now.

 

6. Write things down.

Putting your concerns on paper allows you to remove them from your mind and to return to them later. Taking pressure off a stress or worry in the present moment can alleviate a lot of anxiety. Also, the act of writing engages your mind and reduces the power of racing thoughts. If you take a moment to organize these thoughts on paper, your mind will likely be calmer.

 

7. Breathe.

When you experience racing thoughts, your body’s physical response is to activate the sympathetic nervous system. In order to shift to the relaxed response of the parasympathetic nervous system, it is helpful to try breathing exercises. Try counting to 3 as you breathe in and to 5 as you breathe out. Pay attention only to your breathing as you try to slow it down. Your mind will wander, and that is okay… just bring it back to your breathing each time.

One or more of the above tips will be helpful to incorporate into your daily regimen over a long period of time to see results. It is common to expect the effects to be immediate and abandon the practice too soon. Try to be consistent and patient.

 

If you find that you are not able to get racing thoughts under control, consider consulting a mental health provider to move forward with counselling for anxiety. Anxious thoughts can be part of a mental health disorder that professionals can treat effectively with psychotherapy.

If you have any questions or would like help with working to increase your mental wellness, call our Director, Carly at 647-961-9669, or email info@balancedmindandwellness.com

The Greatest Gift(s) You Can Give Your Relationship this Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day holds a lot of weight for many couples. The expectations and pressure that come with this holiday dedicated to love leads couples to focus on the “perfect” way to shower their partners with romance. While gifting roses and chocolate covered strawberries are lovely romantic gestures, discovering deeper sources of intimacy and connection in your partnership this Valentine’s Day might be one of the greatest gifts you can give to your relationship. This post offers 4 suggestions to connect with your partner in deeper ways.

 

  1. Reflect on the Positive Aspects of the Relationship

It’s important to take the time to acknowledge and celebrate all the positive aspects of your relationship. Showing gratitude for all the small and big ways that you and your partner contribute to your relationship prevents you from taking each other for granted.

Consider:In what ways do I enhance our relationship? Be specific. In what ways does my partner enhance our relationship? Be specific. What parts of our relationship do my partner and I typically excel at? What was a recent relational issue that we handled well? What is it about each of us individually and as a couple that makes these successes possible?

What answers did you have in common? Which of your partner’s answers surprised you? Can you thank yourselves and each other for the ways that you contribute to your relationship?

 

  1. Explore Each Other’s Love Languages

Everyone has a preferred way to show and receive love; that is, we all speak different love languages. Gary Chapman, the author of The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts, writes, “We tend to speak our primary love language, and we become confused when our [partner] does not understand what we are communicating. We are expressing our love, but the message does not come through because we are speaking what, to them, is a foreign language.” The goal is to understand each other’s love languages and learn to express love in your partner’s language.

Chapman highlights that there are 5 Basic Love Languages:

  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Acts of Service
  3. Receiving Gifts
  4. Quality Time
  5. Physical Touch

This Valentine’s Day, consider taking the Love Language Quiz with your partner. If you’d like to explore the concept of love languages a little deeper, consider reading The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lastsby Gary Chapman with your partner.

 

  1. Ignite the Spark: Open up Communication about Your Sexual Desires

Sexual intimacy can be one of the most vulnerable experiences between partners. Partners may hold back on expressing their sexual desires and needs for a variety of reasons. Consider reflecting on your sexual needs and desires and exploring this with your partner. Remember that sexual intimacy is a mutual experience, and each partners’ preferences and vulnerabilities must be validated.

4 Ways to Talk about Sexual Desires:

“It really turns me on when you/we/I…”

“It would feel really good if you/we/I… Can I show you?”

“I’ve been thinking a lot about … Is this something we can try together?”

“If I’m not feeling particularly sexual, how can I communicate this to you in a way that doesn’t make you feel unwanted/unloved?”

Valentine’s Day can bring on pressures and expectations around what sexual intimacy should look like. Put the “shoulds” aside, and think about what would feel satisfying to you and your partner. This invites you to think about mutual pleasure and satisfaction, rather than trying to fit into an external sexual script. To discover more about intimacy in long-term relationships, consider reading Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence by Esther Perel.

 

  1. Get to Know Your Partner’s Inner World

We are individuals before we are partners. Sometimes our individuality (e.g. values, preferences, interests, etc.) is neglected in the context of our relationships. How can you invite your partner into your inner world and allow them to know you in new ways?

3 Suggestions to Invite Your Partner in Your Inner World:

  1. YouTube Swap. Each of you get to pick a few YouTube videos (10 minutes or less) on different topics or forms of entertainment that interest you (e.g. comedy sketch, Ted Talk, sports clip, etc.). Watch each video together, switching between yours and theirs. Feel free to discuss why you chose the videos you did, or enjoy the videos without talking.
  2. Plan your own dream date. Take your partner on a date that feels satisfying and exciting to you.
  3. Download the Gottman Card Decks App. This app suggests meaningful questions for partners to ask each other on a variety of topics, in order to get to know each other in deeper ways.

 

You and your partner may find it difficult to connect with each other in these ways. Addressing the challenges you and your partner are facing together is another great gift you can give your relationship this Valentine’s Day. It might be helpful to seek out a couple’s therapist to support you through this journey.

To learn more about how we can support you with relationship concerns, contact Nikki Sedaghat at nikki@balancedmindandwellness.com.

New Year, New Goals

It’s that time of year again. We are almost two weeks into the new year, and despite well-intentioned resolutions that started full throttle, most of us are already losing steam and making exceptions, or excuses. As a result, we are well on our way back to old habits.

So, we ask: why do most resolutions fail and what helps some of them succeed? Some people lack the self-discipline it takes to maintain their resolutions. Others are not yet ready to change their habits, particularly the bad ones. Some people set unrealistic goals and expectations even before attempting them.

To execute resolutions, we need to change our behaviours. In order to change a behaviour, we have to develop a new thought behind it. Creating healthy habits involves creating thought patterns in the brain, which generate memories – the default for our behaviour when we have to make a decision.

 

To help change your thinking and make success happen, here is a list of 7 ways to follow through with resolutions and keep healthy habits:

1. Start small

One year is a strong commitment. Thinking about changing habits for an entire year may seem overwhelming. Start with one month, keep track and add another on, etc. If you can make it successfully through just the first month of a resolution, you are more likely to keep it as a habit through the rest of the year.

2. Be accountable

When you find it hard to hold yourself accountable, try telling somebody about your resolution. This will create a healthy sense of pressure to achieve it. When this person follows up and asks how it is going, this can help you check in with and track your progress.

3. Plan for setbacks

Going from point A to point B is not always a straight line. Think of it more like a treasure map with many twists and turns before the goal can be achieved.

4. Be specific

Instead of saying “I want to eat healthy,” make it measurable. Rather than stating you’ll get out of debt, be specific about how much per month you will pay off on your credit card.

5. Connect the goal to core values

When you can see how a goal may positively impact or improve a relationship, this makes the goal much more rewarding.

6. Focus on success

It can be easy to adopt the ‘glass half empty’ mindset. Instead, think about gains and small successes, rather than how much more needs to be done. Celebrate weekly and monthly milestones. Use a calendar or checklist to visually track progress.

7. Keep adding resolutions

You do not need to wait until New Year’s Eve to make resolutions. Improving ourselves is an ongoing process. Set monthly reminders in your phone, write them on your calendar, or have a meeting with someone who helps you set goals.

 

Counselling is a great way to hold yourself accountable to your goals and resolutions. If you have any questions or would like help with working to set goals and increase your mental wellness, call Carly at 647-961-9669, or email carly@balancedmindandwellness.com

Self-Care in Our Technology Driven World

I admit, it is very tempting to throw around words like “self-care” in the context of therapy. Sometimes, what ends up happening when words are so easily used is that we forget their true intention and meaning.

Self-care as it is used today is about finding ways to attend to ourselves. In today’s busy world we really forget to pay attention to ourselves as boundaries and limits are blurred by technology and the mentality of always “being on”. Without giving ourselves any true time off, we tend to feel anxious, stressed, stuck, alone, unable to connect with others, and unproductive to name a few things. It is now more important than ever to use self-care strategies in order to maintain our physical and mental health, which ultimately helps to manage our stress.

Here are three self-care strategies to use in our technology driven world:

  • Unplug from technology. In theory, this is about taking time away from technology so we can have a few minutes of peace in our lives. It’s important to think about how you’ll unplug from technology. This can include:
    • deactivating a social media account for awhile (for example, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat)
    • putting your phone on airplane mode for at least an hour
    • putting your gadgets away in a drawer or another room – out of sight, out of mind
  • Use the time you’re unplugging from technology to do something you enjoy or used to enjoy. Go for a walk, read a book, go see family and/or friends, try a new hobby, take a nap, or maybe learn to practice mindfulness.
  • When you reconnect with technology, challenge yourself to delay responding to texts and emails unless if it’s urgent. This one can be tricky, because it’s easy to tell ourselves something is super important and needs to be responded to immediately.
    • Put your thoughts through a test: if you wouldn’t call someone that moment to respond to them, it’s probably not urgent and can wait.
    • By setting different expectations we ourselves can feel less of an urgency, which will make it easier to unplug from technology.

There are some very interesting pieces on the history and importance of self-care you can read about:

By taking time away from technology we are caring for ourselves and giving ourselves opportunities to connect with our internal needs. If you’re wondering about how to develop more strategies to help improve your life, you can always develop these strategies with a life coach, counsellor, or therapist. Please visit here for more information, or email vivian@balancedmindandwellness.com to book an appointment.