How to Manage Your Racing ThoughtsBy Homaira Kabir
You know the feeling when your mind is racing at a hundred miles an hour. You feel rushed, there seems way too much to do, and there’s that gnawing feeling that you won’t be able to get through it all.
That’s how I used to wake up for years. Instead of easing into my day, I would wake up feeling already behind. It would affect my mood—I was rushed and short-tempered, and little things would completely throw me off.
I would also feel this way at different times during the day. When I was working, it would distract me and make me feel I wasn't achieving enough. When I was with my children, listening to their long, drawn-out stories, it seemed as if there was tons of other important work I could be attending to. Never present. Always doing.
I tried mindfulness and it certainly helped. Bringing my attention back to my breath would keep my thoughts from getting ahead of me. I could be more present, more engaged with the moment and with the people around me.
But there was a problem. Sometimes the racing thoughts were very useful—bread needed to be bought; doctors’ appointments, booked; tasks, completed before the big presentation. Not attending to them meant more than just a slight bother. And sometimes it meant the loss of something far more profound. Because sometimes, these thoughts were absolutely brilliant, gushing through like water from a tap. Losing them in the depths of the breath seemed like such a waste.
How, then, was I to tell the difference? How was I to know when to listen and when to dismiss them? I found the answer in listening to my body—a guide we seldom