How to Calm Racing Thoughts in Anxiety and Panic

Himanshu Dani 2 Replies

racing thoughts

Panic or Anxiety strikes you like a lightning.

Your thought mechanism fires and within a split second, you are in the turmoil of negative fearful feelings.

They are always there in the form of racing thoughts. You resist them but they don’t seem to go away. They are not at all helpful to you in any way. 

It is often very tricky to find the way out of the racing thoughts when you are in the anxious mode. When you are deprived of mental peace you can’t figure out what to do.

Am I right?

When you start feeling anxious and have racing thoughts you often feel like you are going crazy. But they are actually a normal symptom of anxiety.

This article will explore the symptom of racing thoughts and what you can do to calm down yourself in this situation.

# What exactly You’ll Learn About 
Racing Intrusive Thoughts in Anxiety here:

  •  How to think right about racing thoughts in anxiety
  •  How to calm them down effectively

When we talk of Racing Thoughts in Anxiety we are actually talking about two things. It will be easy to understand by separating the term into two parts.

Let’s dissect the racing thoughts that you get during anxiety and panic attacks.

The whole term “Racing thoughts in anxiety and panic” can actually be roughly divided into two parts.

One is “Racing thoughts” and the other is “Disturbing or Intrusive thoughts.”  

These two things together form “Racing Intrusive Thoughts” in anxiety which is your biggest pain. 

Racing thoughts: This term simply means that the thoughts arise and fade away continuously at a very rapid pace in your mind. They disturb you and you cannot take any action during that time.

Note that racing thoughts are not always disturbing. When they rush because of a happy event, they are not distressing. 

Intrusive thoughts: It means that they are negative thoughts which make you feel anxious or depressed. They take away your mental peace and make your day a living hell!

# Not all Racing thoughts are bad, either way, they are not helpful!

When you have racing thoughts it is a very common experience that you cannot focus on anything. You cannot focus nor you can find a solution to calm the racing mind.

We separated the two terms in the above paragraphs because racing thoughts are not necessarily associated only with negative thoughts. You can have a racing mind even in happy moments.

Even in that those moments, you cannot focus on anything and also the racing thoughts don’t serve any purpose.

Same is the condition when you are angry or upset.

We can say we can have racing thoughts in nearly all emotional conditions and they are not necessarily connected only to anxiety or fears or panic.

The people who have racing thoughts in anxiety also have racing thoughts in all emotional moments.

You may be having racing thoughts in:

  • Worry
  • Anxiety and panic
  • Excitement
  • Anger
  • Sadness

When the racing thoughts are connected to negative emotions or feeling, that is a high distress! This is the hallmark of anxiety.

This can be well understood from the illustrations below:

Racing thoughts in anxiety


Racing thoughts in anxiety

The first step is to learn to calm down your racing thoughts (negative or positive whatever)

As I said in the beginning, anxious intrusive thoughts consist of two parts.

The first step is to slow down your thoughts or say the mental processing.

Whatever the thoughts may be, positive or negative, they are like in a horse race for no reason.

One thought pops up and makes you anxious. Before it vanishes the second one pops and that goes on and on.

So in the beginning just focus on slowing down your thoughts instead of thinking positive or doing some maneuver to replace the negative thoughts.

There are 5 ways to calm down your mind:

# Distraction

 When you get trapped into anxious thinking you keep on thinking the same things repetitively.

You don’t realize that this repetitive thinking is creating distress for you.

On the contrary, you think that you are saving yourself from some dangerous event by thinking so. 

You also think that it happens automatically. But the good news is that even that is not true!

It is possible to slow down intrusive thoughts with practice and maximum effort. 

Distracting is one of the ways to shift your attention from the disturbing fearful thoughts to something that is not disturbing.

It can be anything in your surrounding, something that is happening around or anything that captures your mind.

# Watching the breath

You might be aware that watching the breath is the part of meditation training and it helps to focus your mind on one thing.

Just sit or lie relaxed and try to focus your attention on breathing.

You can concentrate on the philtrum. Experience the friction of the air you feel while inhaling and exhaling. 

Do not take deep breaths forcefully. Let it be natural but the breathing should be from the belly. 

Slowly progress towards deep and rhythmic belly breathing. 

This helps to calm the anxious mind.

# Doing some mind engaging activity

There are many activities you enjoy like calling a friend, listening to music, watching or listening to funny stuff on TV or the internet and so on.

As you already find fun in these activities they will divert your mind and distract you from the anxious thoughts.

If you have a partner you can also engage in lovemaking. That can be a good distraction.

As you already find fun in these activities they will divert your mind and distract you from the anxious thoughts.

# Listening to a relaxation audios

Relaxation audios can be very helpful when you are in the anxious mode.

They can make you your body, as well as mind relaxed.

These audios/videos have to be listened in silent rooms, either sitting or lying down strictly on headphones.

The audios I found on ExcelAtLife by Dr. Monica Frank are very beneficial for this purpose.

# Listen to Anxiety and Panic assistance audios

Anxiety and panic assistance audios help you calm down during intense anxiety by giving you suggestions and right direction to your thoughts.

They help you ground from the high arousal state in a relatively short time

Audios you can listen online:

These audios can be found on Dr. Monica Frank’s

# Try ASMR- It can be super relaxing!

ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response which is a sensory response produced in the body and mind by soft whispering sounds.  ASMR has been believed to relax and induce sleep. It can calm the anxious mind and reduce your distress. They can be used the same way as relaxation audios with headphones.

Examples of ASMR:

Youtube channel: TingleBelleASMR

All these steps will help you slow down your racing mind. When you start to get relief with these methods the next step is to Curb the Negative Disturbing Intrusive Thoughts.

Also see:

#How to Eliminate Intrusive Thoughts If you Suffer Panic disorder
#Intrusive Thoughts in Panic Disorder: The Chaos You Face in Extreme Anxiety

#A Guide to 6-Step Anxiety Thought Record Worksheet to Curb your Anxiety


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  1. walk-in

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  2. Franchesca Canul

    It has been very confusing and frustrating for me to find the way out of my panic disorder with agoraphobia. I had been housebound for months and I was scared of even going to the therapy clinic. Finally, somehow I went and my therapist helped me. This post gives very practical advice. Thanks.

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