ways I calm my racing mind

Every since I can remember I worried.  I described myself as a worry wart.  I remember trying to fall asleep as a young child, not able to shut off my thoughts of everything I said or did (or didn’t say or do) during the day and thinking ahead to the day ahead of what could happen; what I needed to be prepared for.  Tossing and turning in my mind and in my bed.  Checking the clock, calculating how many hours I had left before I needed to get up.

I thought everyone was like that.  I didn’t realize until I was in my 20’s that I suffered from anxiety.  In my 30’s I learned that I could change my thinking and in my 40’s I’m still working on it.

Living in the moment.

It was really when I had kids that I realized I really needed to work on staying in the present.  There was so much anxiety circling me as a mom that I would probably make myself sick each day if I didn’t get it under control.

And you do have control over it.

How?  

I’ve been on antidepressants and it did help to a certain extent.  I went to counseling and that too helped but really what has helped the most is simply me and understanding  I can control my thoughts.

I think as I’ve gotten older I’ve become too tired to worry so much.  I thought worrying was my way of preparing myself for…whatever tragedy I thought was headed my way.  I’ve been through tough times (divorce, illness, death of my mom) and I got through them.  We are all strong enough to deal with anything, as it happens. So there is no need to prepare for them.

As a mother, now with an almost 9-year-old and a 10-year-old, I see how quickly time is going by.  I desperately need to stay in the moment so I don’t miss these precious moments with my boys.

I must stop obsessing over the WAS & the WILL and just settle into the NOW. Click To Tweet

Each day I must make a conscience effort to stay in the moment and get my mind on track.

For example my wandering mind can be a burden, not just anxiety but getting off track a lot which makes me unproductive.  The word “squirrel” comes to mind.

I find my mind wanders when I’m working on my Etsy shop orders.  I use a good ol’ kitchen timer to keep my mind on task when I’m working.  It’s too easy to be working on an order and ding an email comes in.  I check the email which has something to do with my kids and I must respond it to it.  Then I go work on that and before I know it, another email comes in and before I know it, I get a text about something else.  And on and on.  An endless circle which ends up matching my racing mind.  Too much.

When I sit down to work on orders I put the kitchen timer on for 50 minutes.  I like to hear the timer going; it keeps me motivated to beat the clock, so to speak; to get as much done in those 50 minutes as I can before it dings.  I have my computer on sleep and my phone is away charging.  No distractions.  

Also, when I’m working orders, I keep a large piece of paper on my desk for a few reasons, so I don’t get ink all over the table and to write down the things that float through my head as I’m stamping and painting. In the past I would have stopped working and threw in a load of laundry because I suddenly remembered I needed to do that or “quickly” reply to an email I forgot about. Instead as thoughts, AKA distractions, enter my brain, I just jot them down on the paper and refer back later, when I’m done working.  

One task at a time!

When the day is over and the kids are tucked into bed, I wrap up my work in my studio.

I write down my to-do list for the next day on a Post-It.  I purposely use a Post-It because you can’t write that much on it.  I need to be realistic about what I can get done in a day. If I use a regular piece of paper, I end up filling that puppy up with things to do and I wouldn’t get it done.  I would feel bad about not getting it all done.

A small to-do list makes life simple and straight to the point of what I MUST get done. Click To Tweet  For larger projects I use notebooks and I don’t write “write a book” on the small Post-It.  If I have a very large goal (like write a book or scrapbook my kids’ last 8 years of life) I break it down to daily goals.  Write 1000 words each day.  Scrapbook 2 pages tomorrow. Don’t set yourself up for failure with being overwhelmed right off the bat!

I keep a separate to-do list in the kitchen for more the household, nonbusiness, stuff I must do each day.  Again on a small piece of paper.

These are the ways I’m retraining my racing, all over the place, mind to stay focused.

As I keep my life organized I find it helps me to have a less anxious, always-running mind. Click To Tweet

But I still battle anxiety, especially when I try new things.  I have found as I keep making a conscious effort to step out of my comfort zone, I don’t get as anxious.  Again, it’s about training your brain and thoughts to understand “everything is going to be ok!”

And you know what?  What?  It’s ok, to feel uncomfortable sometimes.  Because we all survive and once you’re done with whatever new thing you just experienced, you feel 1000x better and proud of yourself like nothing else.

When I feel like my brain (and heart) are racing out of control, I quickly say to myself “everything is ok. you’re ok. just breathe.”  It’s because of that anxiety that I created my own type of worry stone (I call them soothing stones).  They are just a small stone with a message to remind yourself, in those moments of a racing mind, that everything is ok.

It’s because of that anxiety that I created my own type of worry stone (I call them soothing stones).  They are just a small stone with a message to remind yourself, in those moments of a racing mind, that everything is ok.  

Going on a plane trip summarizes my anxiety.  I love to travel.  I want to go new places.  I hate being stuck in a plane.  I feel out of control, claustrophobic, and I just want to run away.  Of course to reach my end goal, the destination, I must go through this process of being stuck in a tuna can so I make sure to have that soothing stone in my pocket.  As the plane takes off, I’m half excited and half about to throw up so I rub the stone or look at it, to remind myself it’s ok.  It’s just a physical reminder of what I must tell that racing brain of mine.

It’s always a work in process.  My racing mind will never go away.  It’s actually been helpful to me, as an entrepreneur.  I’ve just had to learn to work with it in a positive way and harness the anxious energy into moving-forward energy.  To not get stuck in my own head.

These are some books that have helped me over the years (yes, these are affiliate links):


What has worked for you?  Do you have advice for how to deal with your anxious, racing mind?  Share in the comments.  Ways I calm my racing mind to stay focused to live the life I want.  Ways I calm my racing mind to stay focused to live the life I want.