Day 19 – Watching the train go by…

Today let’s talk strategy. When our thoughts are racing, we sometimes feel like we just can’t stop them. We believe the lie that they have control over us and allow them to affect our emotions and subsequent behavior. But as we’ve discussed throughout this series, our thoughts do not have to control us!

Just like in the anxiety series, I described some intentional relaxation techniques to help tame down symptoms of anxiety. Let’s go over a few more here to help eliminate the negative emotions that are associated with out-of-control thoughts.

1)      Watch the train go by… One of the reasons we become emotionally entangled with our thoughts is because we are so close to them. We allow them to define us and we become invested in them, even if they are unhealthy. One strategy is to separate ourselves and in a sense, set up a boundary between our thoughts and who we are. Here’s one of the ways we can do this: Just like I explained with guided imagery in the anxiety series, we must get to a relaxed state. Use breathing exercises to calm down. Then, use visualization to imagine yourself watching a train pass by with each of your thoughts on it. As you stand there, you picture each negative thought flying by. You feel the breeze hitting your skin and you wait patiently for the entire train to pass by. You do not fight against what’s happening but rather allow the train to pass you with no rush or resistance. What you’re doing here is allowing the thoughts to make their way both in and out of your head; what you’re not doing is getting on that train! You’re observing it as an outsider.

2)      Do your thoughts race when you try to go to sleep at night? Keep a notepad next to your bed and write down any thoughts that you find yourself obsessing over. A funny thing happens when you write them down. It’s almost like a sigh of relief for your body and you’re often able to let them go.

Here’s a few additional techniques from the anxiety series:

1) Short and Sweet

2) Visualization

3) Progressive Muscle Relaxation

4) Mind/Body Connection

Hopefully these tools will help you feel more calm when you’re struggling to gain control of your thoughts and feeling anxious!

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