Mental Wellbeing

15 Practical Tips That Will Stop Your Mind Racing

woman with racing mind

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I was recently trying to get to sleep after a busy day at work but my mind was racing – thinking about what I hadn’t got done, then jumping from thing to thing.

My thoughts were along the lines of “*$£% I didn’t send that email to x”, “must remember to phone y”, “shut up brain, I want to go to sleep”, “mustn’t forget to buy a Birthday card for z”, “arrgghh!”

I sometimes wish I could unplug my brain, or at least for it to have an ‘off switch’.

tips to stop your mind racing

My ‘monkey mind’ does this during the day too.  Jumping all over.  I’ll be waiting for the computer at work to load up (it’s slow!) and 10 other things I need to do pop into my head. The result is I end up with lots of bits of things done but nothing completed!

Just as a monkey roaming through the forest grabs hold of one branch, lets that go and grabs another, then lets go and grabs still another, so too that which is called “mind” and “mentality” and “consciousness” arises as one thing and ceases as another by day and by night – Buddha

mind racing like a monkey

Image by cocoparisienne from Pixabay

We have 40,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day.  That’s a lot of thoughts!  Many of them are about the same topics and many of them are also negative.  This is a lot to manage!  Is it any wonder you find your mind racing at times?

You may find that you are overthinking, going over things from the past or worrying about the future.  Or you may find that your mind jumps from thing to thing, leaving you confused and overwhelmed.

It’s important to note that several mental health conditions can make you more prone to racing thoughts.  For example, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder and others.  Please ensure that you seek medical advice if this could be the case for you.

Assuming then that you are well, or under the guidance of your medical professional, here are 15 practical tips to help.

Want even more ways to calm your mind?  Claim your FREE 54-page e-Book which explains how!

1.  Focus On The Physical

Eckhart Tolle explains a simple exercise to help you do this.


I love this, it’s so simple!

Another tip I heard somewhere is to focus on the end of your nose.  I find focussing on my hands, my feet or my nose invariably sends me to sleep.  So a great one to try in the middle of the night.

Another tip I picked up was to take a cold shower!  Not so sure about that one to be honest, although it is part of the Wim Hof Method, so I suppose there is something in this!  (According to Wikipedia, Wim Hof is a Dutch extreme athlete noted for his ability to withstand extreme cold).


2.  Write It Down

As well as having a cup of tea, Julie told me that she likes to do a ‘brain dump’.  Many of you told me that writing down your thoughts or your list of things you need to do helps.  I find this helps me too, although sometimes I am up and down jotting things down in the middle of the night!

If you are more of a visual person, you could try doodling your thoughts rather than writing.

agenzio notebook paperchase

Doodle  your thoughts in this pretty notebook from Paperchase


3.  Focus On An Object

You could also try focussing on an object.  For example, Julie from Fab Working Mom Life told me that she sits with a cup of tea and focuses on the tea and nothing else for a while.

My Mum regularly focuses on the birds in the garden (OK so not really ‘objects’ but the principle is the same).  She tells me it takes her mind off any worries she has and brings her reliably back into the present moment.


Image by jLasWilson from Pixabay


4.  Inhale Lavender

I’ve used lavender oil for many years to help me sleep and find I associate the scent of lavender with bedtime and relaxation.  There is evidence that lavender can be useful for treating anxiety, insomnia, depression and restlessness.


This lavender massage oil from The Body Shop is lush


5.  Breathing Exercises

There are many different ones you can try.  The basic concept is that breathing deeply will slow down your thoughts and relax your body.

I like ‘box breathing’ where I breathe in for 8, hold for 8, out for 8, hold for 8.  I then do this 8 times.  You could also try making your out breath longer than your in breath.

Play about with it and see what works for you.


6.  Listen To Music

I recently discovered ‘singing bowls’.  I find meditation music based around singing bowls to be hugely calming.  Experiment with different types of relaxing music to find something you like.

More upbeat music can also be helpful.  Put on your favourite song, crank up the volume and sing and dance along!  The change of focus plus the exercise is sure to distract you from your thoughts.

listen to music, stop your mind racing

Photo by Alphacolor on Unsplash


7.  Read A Book

I definitely find reading a good book to be a form of meditation for me.  Some say to read a ‘real’ book rather than on an e-reader, but I find I’m fine with my trusty Kindle.

It’s best not to read on your tablet or phone though as it has been shown that the blue light emitted by the screen can affect your sleep.

Try to keep off social media for a couple of hours before bed too.  I notice the difference in how much my mind whirs when I’ve been scrolling Twitter and Facebook too close to bedtime.

read a book, stop your mind racing

Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash


8.  Yoga

The combination of exercise and the focus on the breath found in yoga can be helpful in calming your mind and stopping those racing thoughts.

It’s amazing how many different types of yoga there are nowadays.  In the last week alone, I’ve been told about

Laughter Yoga

Aerial Yoga


Inner Axis Yoga

You are sure to find a type that you enjoy.

I’ve recently been learning yoga with Movement For Modern Life.  It’s kind of like the Netflix of yoga!  Click here for a free 30-day trial plus 30% off a subscription for life using code CE30 (crow pose optional!)

movement for modern life 30% off

Photo by Form on Unsplash


9.  ASMR Videos

This isn’t one I’ve tried myself and I didn’t even know what they were until someone mentioned them on Twitter a couple of months back.  I had to Google….ASMR stands for autonomous sensory meridian response and the phrase was apparently coined in 2010.

ASMR has been described as a tingling sensation which usually starts in the scalp and can move down the spine and into the limbs.  Many find this relaxing.  There are certain sounds which can trigger ASMR.  For example a crackling fire or rustling paper.   Intrigued?  Check out the video below to find out your ASMR triggers!  (I’m so tingly now having just watched this 😂)


10.  Acknowledge Then Watch Your Thoughts

The PhD Mummy sums this up – “I got told a while ago to embrace the moment and let the emotion be.  Don’t try and fight it; acknowledge it, breathe and after a moment or two, see if you can carry on.  If not, try and do something else or remove yourself from the situation for a bit”.

You could also try ‘watching’ your thoughts as they arise.  This takes a little bit of practice, but I find when I watch my thoughts, suddenly I  don’t seem to have any!

There are various visualisation meditations you can try to help you get the hang of this.  I like this ‘leaves on a stream’ one where you visualise placing your thoughts onto leaves and watch them drifting off downstream.  You could also imagine you are watching them on a cinema screen.

I also liked this idea from Sabrina at The Budding Optimist who told me that she visualises scrunching up her racing thoughts into a paper ball and tossing them away into an imaginary abyss


11.  Go Outside

Whether this is to go for a walk or simply to just stand and look at the sky, going outside can shift your perspective and break you free of your thoughts.


12.  Set A ‘Worry’ Timer

This isn’t one that has worked particularly well for me, but I probably haven’t given it enough of a chance.

Basically, you set a timer for 20 minutes and let your thoughts go where they want.  You could also write stuff down as it comes up.  Then take some deep breaths, let it go and get on with your day.


13.  Use A Mantra

A mantra is a simple phrase or word which you can repeat over and over (either aloud or silently) in order to calm your mind.  For example ‘life is good’, ‘everything is ok’ or simply ‘om’.   Friends and family of mine have also found reciting a prayer or poem to themselves to have a similar calming effect.

There has been research conducted which has shown there are definite benefits to be had using mantras.


14.  Distract Yourself

Many people find that distracting activity such as colouring, gardening or playing an instrument can help slow down their minds.

Watching TV does not count!


15.  Meditation

Many of the techniques listed so far (focussing on your breathing, watching your thoughts etc.) are forms of meditation.  If you want to learn more about meditation and how to practice it, check out my beginners’ guide.

So, the next time your mind is racing, pick a couple of these tips to try.  Some of them may take a bit of practice before you see results, so don’t give up too soon (like I did with the worry timer one!)

Do you have any other ways of slowing down your racing mind that I haven’t mentioned?  I’d love to hear about anything you’ve tried and what results you have found.

Other related posts:

How To Stop Overthinking – 7 Powerful Ideas

The Power of Meditation: 5 Astonishing Ways It Can Help You

Stop Worrying – 5 Top Tips That Really Work

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  1. Sabrina | The Budding Optimist

    Thanks for sharing these amazing tips! Sometimes it takes a few tries but visualizing “tossing away your worries” into an imaginary abyss works well for me. I also like to set a “worry timer” where I let myself entertain my worrying thoughts fully for just 10-15 minutes. Then I visualize tossing them away.

  2. Geraldine

    I get this a lot, and it always never fails to bother me even when I’m trying to sleep. It’s so annoying!! These are really practical advice here Alison! I try my best to distract myself by focusing on an object or listening to music. When you’re trying to go to bed, it’s not quite easy because I’d rather try to focus on sleeping than probably browsing my phone to distract myself …. but getting your brain to stop racing is more important for that time being! Thanks for sharing Alison 🙂

    Geraldine | https://geraldinetalks.com

    1. Alison

      Thanks Geraldine. It happens to me a lot at night too. I find the breathing exercises useful and I try to stay off my phone after 9pm or my brain whirs even more!

  3. Marie

    So many different things to try! My crochet is a good distraction, or any kind of art where you can get really absorbed. Eventually you do have to address the situation though, so a list is helpful. You can see what needs to be done, and then cross things off the list, or prioritise better than when those thoughts are racing.

    1. Alison

      Thanks Marie. You are right, distraction is ok for a while but then you do need to tackle the underlying issues x

  4. Chloe Chats

    These are wonderful tips! I can often struggle with my mind racing and thinking about a million things at once which then ends up with me just being super stressed out. Writing things down is super helpful for me, but I also like to just stop, listen to music and zone out, I like doing this if I’m outside sitting in the sunshine <3

    Chloe xx

  5. Lexi

    Lots of great tips here.

    Neuroscientists found that the song Weightless by Marconi Union can reduce anxiety by as much as 65 percent.

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