Overcome Excessive Thinking in 3 Steps
Do you find you can’t stop thinking? Your thoughts go around and around at a rapid pace and race through your mind. These thoughts can be so persistent they make getting through the day, or sleeping at night extremely difficult. You feel so exhausted by your thinking. The more you think, the more anxious you feel.
If you suffer from anxiety, most likely you are deeply impacted by incessant thinking. Incessant overthinking makes it hard to relax, breath and feel peace. Your thoughts are unwelcome repetitive thoughts that make you feel worried. Like a sense of impending doom is surrounding you. Unwanted overthinking makes you feel mental and emotional distress, which makes it impossible to relax and be in the present moment to enjoy life.
The good news is there is a way out of this nightmare! We can simply apply a 3 step plan to overcome racing thoughts, in a very simple and effective way. The 3 step plan I outline, you can apply any time of the day or night when you start to feel anxious and overwhelmed by your thinking.
Step 1: Notice
The first step is to ‘notice’ you can’t stop thinking. When you stop, and notice you are overthinking a miracle happens because you are one step closer to calming your thoughts down and overcoming anxiety.
The next time you have racing thoughts. Stop, notice and repeat to yourself: “Hello anxiety my dear friend, thanks for coming to say hello”. When you do this, you instantly remove yourself from your unwelcome thoughts and are on the path to peace.
A useful analogy is to think about your thoughts as junk pilled up in a brown wooden cardboard box. When you notice, you have become overwhelmed by your thinking you can remove yourself from being inside the box surrounded by junk. To being on the outside of the brown cardboard box and looking down at it from outside.
When you notice, you become free to transform your excessive thinking. You are no longer inside the box, caught up in unwelcome thoughts. You are now a silent observer of yourself. Noticing gives you the freedom to transform negative unwanted thinking into a calm peaceful state.
This first step is very important, because the moment you notice you are overwhelmed by racing thoughts. You are no longer caught up in your thoughts. You then have the freedom to apply the next two steps to feel instantly calm and peace.
Step 2: Deep Breathing
Step 2 is to apply a simple breathing technique. Breath in deeply into your abdomen and hold the breath for four long counts. Exhale slowing for six, slow deep counts. Make sure you close your mouth and breath in and out your nose so you are able to take deeper, slower, and longer breaths.
It is useful to focus your mind on counting your breath. Breath in and repeat mentally, one, two, three, four. Then exhale slowly and repeat mentally one, two, three, four, five six.
As you begin to breath in bring the breath as far as you can into the very top of your lungs, visualising the air filling up both your lungs right up to the top of your lungs. As you slowly exhale feel the breath move slowly and deeply into your abdomen or belly.
Repeat this breathing exercise until you are no longer thinking, but fully focused on your breathing.
Step 3: Apply a Gatha
Once you feel you are able to breathe deeply in and out your nose and you have got a very slow steady rhythm with your breath, you will be able to stop counting and just concentrate to continue breathing slowly on your inhalations and slowly on your exhalation.
Then you can repeat a very simple gatha mentally to yourself. A gatha is a verse recited in rhythm with the breath as part of mindfulness practice. The practice was popularized by Zen master Thich Nhat Hahn.
The most simple gatha to use is to simply repeat:
In, In, In, (on your in breath)
out, out, out, (on your outbreath)
Repeat this breathing exercise until your breath is long, slow and steady.
The next time you notice you have racing thoughts. Apply these three simple steps. Firstly, stop and notice and say to yourself: “Hello anxiety my dear friend thanks you for coming to say hello”.
Then work on slowing down your breath. Breathing in for four long, slow, counts. Exhaling for six, deep, slow exhalations. Repeat until you find your breathing has completely slowed down and your thoughts are no longer racing.
Lastly, apply the simple mantra to yourself mentally, in, in, in, on the inhalation and out, out, out, on the exhalation.
Even though this exercise is so simple, it works wonders to calm anxiety and stop racing thoughts. I guarantee if you use it, you will feel a greater sense of calm and peace.
The only hard part is to remember to apply these 3 steps, applying the first step is most crucial, to stop and notice you have racing thoughts.
Applying the second step you will use the breathing technique to slow down your breathing in and out your nose is very important. Breath in deeply for 4 long, slow counts. Exhale deeply for six, long, slow counts.
Using the last step you can now apply the gatha, and repeat to yourself ‘in, in, in’ and ‘out, out, out’. When you give your mind new thoughts to focus on, the thoughts that were making you feel anxious gently subside.
Often when we feel overwhelmed with racing thoughts and anxiety it is difficult to focus on anything else except our unwanted thoughts. The hard part is to learn to stop and notice and remember to apply deep breathing.
After a while of practising these simple three steps, I assure you, you will feel instantly find peace and joy and overcome anxiety.
If you are interested to find out more my book ‘Now Free from Anxiety: the Steps to Heal Your Life’, delves deeper into these steps, and other techniques that can help you to transform overthinking, anxiety to experience peace and happiness.
Much love Caitilin xx