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Dr. Hallowell's Blog

Managing the Racing Mind

by Rebecca Shafir, M.A.CCC Personal Development and Executive Functioning coach at the Hallowell Center MetroWest

Emotional regulation is a core executive function. Regular meditation and a good sleep regimen, among other methods, foster the emotional competency needed for successful decision-making and execution of tasks. A common complaint among my clients is their struggle with “a racing mind.” A racing mind jumps from one thought to another at random, making it seemingly impossible to let go of fears and worries. Meditation, or attempts to fall asleep at a normal hour can be maddening for some. Perhaps this is why many folks keep the noise and distractions alive well into the wee hours of the morning because “quiet” for them is a breeding ground for worry.

For a person suffering from anxiety or depression, worry finds an opening in a vacuum of quiet. Real concerns and irrational imaginings can flood your mind filling every nook and cranny with fear. If not managed, a mind out of control can lead to panic attacks, chronic insomnia and/or depression. To naturally slow down your mind and steer it in a more positive direction, try these methods:

1) Before bedtime or prior to an attempt to meditate, write down all that’s bothering you. List the things you can control, and accept the ones you can’t control. Include any solutions to these problems. Putting them in writing helps you address them and move on, hopefully to less worrisome thoughts.

2) Have ready some “detours” for your mind when worry intrudes. In advance, create a gratitude list, an outline for your next blog, or prepare some mantra-like affirmations using your name, for example: Carole, everything is OK, or Tom, you’re doing the best you can; it’s all you can do.        

3) Repeat a favorite prayer over and over.

4) Shift to a breath pattern that takes up a lot of mental space. Choose a breathing pattern that requires enough focus to overwhelm negative thoughts: Lie on your back with one hand on your chest and another on your midsection. Inhale and exhale audibly through your nose for 3 slow counts in, hold your breath for 2 counts and breathe out for 4 slow counts. Feel your heart beat slow down as your midsection rises and falls.

Let me help you find a non-medication approach to managing your racing mind. Contact me at the Hallowell Center 978 287 0810 or RebeccaShafir@gmail.com  

 

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