How To Calm Racing Thoughts

Racing thoughts are a common experience for many people. When the mind is overwhelmed with thoughts that come one after another, it can be challenging to focus on any one task or situation. Racing thoughts can make it hard for you to relax, sleep or concentrate on your activities. They can be due to anxiety disorders, depression, bipolar disorder, or other psychiatric or medical conditions. However, many people experience racing thoughts without any underlying medical condition. Whatever the cause of your racing thoughts, you can learn to manage them and calm your mind.

Understand Racing Thoughts

The first step to calm racing thoughts is to understand what they are and how they work. Racing thoughts are the rapid-fire succession of thoughts that race through your mind when your anxiety or stress levels are high. They often revolve around anxiety, panic or worry, and other negative emotions. Racing thoughts can be different for everyone, but they typically involve a range of topics, including work, finances, health, relationships, and future events. They can be so random and urgent that it can feel like an emergency in your mind.

Recognize their impact on you

It’s essential to recognize the impact of racing thoughts on your body and mind. When you experience racing thoughts, your brain can become overstimulated, and your stress hormones can rise. As a result, you may experience physical symptoms such as sweating, shaking, rapid heartbeat, and difficulty breathing. Racing thoughts can also impact your sleep patterns, eating habits, and overall wellbeing.

Identify triggers and patterns

While you may not be able to control every trigger for racing thoughts, identifying patterns and triggers that initiate the thoughts is crucial to managing them effectively. For example, you may find that certain situations, such as deadlines or public speaking, trigger racing thoughts. Keep a journal and identify the times when racing thoughts occurred, the thoughts you had, and the events that might have triggered them.

Techniques to Calm Racing Thoughts

While racing thoughts can feel unstoppable, there are techniques you can use to calm your mind and take control. These techniques can help you ground yourself, reduce anxiety, and focus on the present moment. Some of the effective techniques are:

Mindful Breathing

Focus on your breath is one of the most effective ways to calm racing thoughts. Find a quiet place and sit in a comfortable position. Take a slow and deep breath, then exhale slowly. Pay attention to your breath as you inhale and exhale. If your mind starts to wander, gently bring your focus back to your breath. Repeat this for several minutes, and you will notice a sense of calmness and relaxation.

Progressive Muscular Relaxation

This technique involves tensing and relaxing each muscle group progressively. Find a quiet place to sit or lie down. Start with your toes, tense your muscles, hold the tension for a few seconds, and then release the tension. Move up to your calves, thighs, buttocks, abdomen, chest, arms, and neck. Focus on the sensations of relaxation and the release of tension with each muscle group you relax.


This technique involves visualizing a calm and peaceful place or situation. Close your eyes and imagine a scene that evokes a sense of calm and relaxation. For example, visualize yourself lying on a beach, listening to the sound of crashing waves, or walking in a quiet forest. Engage your senses in your visualization to create a vivid experience.


Journalling is an effective way to express and reflect on your thoughts and emotions. Set aside some time every day to write down your thoughts and feelings without judgment or criticism. Writing can help you organize your thoughts and release pent up emotions. It can also help you identify patterns and triggers that initiate racing thoughts.

Physical Exercise

Physical exercise releases endorphins, the body’s natural stress-relieving hormones. Exercise can help calm your mind, reduce stress levels, and promote a sense of well-being. Engage in any physical activity that you enjoy or find relaxing. Walking, running, swimming, yoga, or dancing are some of the effective physical activities that can calm racing thoughts.

Additional Tips

In addition to the techniques above, here are some other tips that can help manage racing thoughts effectively:

Get enough sleep

Aim to get 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Getting enough sleep is essential for regulating emotions and reducing stress levels. A good night’s sleep can reduce your anxiety levels and help you stay calm in stressful situations.

Eat Healthily

Eating a healthy and balanced diet can improve your mental health and help manage racing thoughts. Avoid processed foods, refined sugars, caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine, which can exacerbate anxiety and stress levels.

Seek Support

If racing thoughts persist and start to impact your daily life, seeking professional help is crucial. A mental health professional can help you identify underlying causes of racing thoughts and develop a personalized plan to manage them effectively.


Racing thoughts can be a challenging and overwhelming experience. However, you can learn to manage them effectively with the right techniques and strategies. Mindful breathing, progressive muscular relaxation, visualization, journalling, physical exercise, and healthy lifestyle practices are some of the effective ways to calm your mind and emotions. Identifying triggers and seeking professional help are essential in managing racing thoughts over the long term. Remember, it’s okay to seek help and support when you need it.


FAQs About How To Calm Racing Thoughts

1. What are racing thoughts?

Racing thoughts are a common symptom of anxiety or hypomania/mania. They involve a rapid, uncontrollable stream of thoughts that jump from one topic to another, making it difficult to focus or relax. Racing thoughts can be exhausting, and they often exacerbate existing feelings of anxiousness or unrest.

2. How can I calm racing thoughts?

There are several strategies you can use to calm racing thoughts, including mindfulness and meditation, deep breathing exercises, and physical activity like yoga or running. It can also be helpful to identify any triggers that may be causing your racing thoughts, such as caffeine or stress, and making efforts to avoid or minimize those triggers.

3. When should I seek help for racing thoughts?

If you’re finding that your racing thoughts are interfering with your daily life, making it difficult to focus, sleep, or perform basic tasks, it may be time to seek professional help. A mental health provider can evaluate your symptoms and develop a treatment plan tailored to your needs, which may include therapy, medication, or other interventions.


1. Gao, X., Wei, Q., Qiu, J., Zhang, Q., & Yang, H. (2020). Effects of mindfulness-based interventions on blood pressure in adult patients with hypertension: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Clinical Hypertension, 22(1), 34-42.
2. Kleim, B., Hornstein, A., Grözinger, M., & Ruchsow, M. (2019). Attentional bias modification training as a treatment for social anxiety disorder: A randomized controlled trial. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 88(6), 347-357.
3. Taren, A. A., Gianaros, P. J., Greco, C. M., Lindsay, E. K., Fairgrieve, A., Brown, K. W., Rosen, R. K., Ferris, J. L., Julson, E., Marsland, A. L., & Creswell, J. D. (2017). Mindfulness meditation training alters stress-related amygdala resting state functional connectivity: A randomized controlled trial. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 12(5), 776-787.