I've recently found myself coaching a client who's trying so very, very hard to release…
I’m so grateful to my newsletter subscribers who sent me their ideas for calming my racing thoughts and anxious energy recently. Bless you if you answered my call for insights and ideas to share about how to calm my energy tornado (thoughts).
I’m not sure if everyone contends with the same symptoms, whether they have bulimia or are in recovery. But, at least from the women I hear from, it sounds like the mind chatter and negative, racing thoughts are rampant.
From articles I read on psych-type blogs it sounds like it’s to be expected from those with disorders, bi-polar and depression. Whatever the basis, the racing mind is a force to be reckoned with and one of the most often-asked questions I receive by email.
[polly_newsletter_form] Questions like…
How do I control my out-of-control bulimia thoughts?
How do I stop when I just want to escape by binging and purging?
How do I calm the monster when it just wants to run away and eat to feel better?
How do I get out of the habit of binging/purging when I know it’s not good for me?
What I hope to convey to you here are some of the things I’ve learned recently about some of the causes of those racing thoughts and anxious energy, what you can do about them (coping mechanisms or self-soothing techniques) and ways to shift your approach to life so that you reduce the stress and therefore less racing thoughts.
What Causes Racing Thoughts and Anxious Energy
I read this article by Jacqueline Ekern about overcoming negative thoughts. There were a few good ideas so I thought I’d convey some of the reasons she says we have those negative racing thoughts:
- Comparison – comparing ourselves to others. Boy, that one hit me right between the eyes. I still catch myself doing that one! One of my favorite quotes recently from my Pinterest board is “comparison is the thief of joy”. And comparing our insides to someone else’s outsides is a recipe for crazy making. I know better and still fall into old patterns sometimes.
- Personalization – taking things personally that aren’t ours to own. This happens when we take on responsibility for other people’s feelings, actions or events in life. While I do believe in law of attraction and there is evidence that I’ve attracted this situation, don’t twist what’s happening around in a negative way so that it defeats or deflates you. Use it as a lesson, take responsibility for what role you played and step up to change it.
- Labeling ourselves – “I’m a fat pig” was a great example from the article. This is lazy thinking and clearly indicates an imbalance of self worth and self love. The fact is you can’t be a pig – you’re a human being. Making statements like that which label us in a negative manner are bound to send us spiraling downward. Stop it! [polly_book]
- Magnification – making things seem bigger than they are. I have noticed in conversation with friends how the words they choose to describe their situations can often impact how they feel about it. Your language represents how you interpret the world and is so powerful. Be careful not to overemphasize the bad or scale something has. One of my favorite terms they use is “massive”. When massive comes into the conversation I’m on alert that they’re really giving this thing a lot of energy, but probably don’t need to. Be sure the story you tell about things aligns with the importance or weight you want it to have – otherwise scale it back so it doesn’t overwhelm you.
- Overgeneralize – to make the negative apply to everything. I see this a lot in my eating disorder recovery coaching. When clients develop a negative pattern – especially in how they talk to themselves – they then carry over negative things that show up in their life and apply it to themselves or all of their life. One wrong step, mistake or problem can make everything seem doomed. Again, your words can make a big difference so remember to see things as they are, not worse than they are.
- Selective sifting – taking into account only part of the story or picture and turning it into the whole situation. We sometimes edit the replay tape or recording of what happened in our mind and just edit out the bad stuff. Racing thoughts can spiral out of control when you focus only on the moment of an event that was hard or bad. Step back, see the whole picture again and try to go general. Remember the phrase “all is well” and “everything is always working out for me”. When we selectively edit only the bad news, we are choosing to focus on the dirt rather than the gold.
Ways to Calm Your Racing Mind – Self Soothing and Ideas for Slowing Down
I’d like to start this section by sharing some of the great ideas and feedback I received from subscribers. There is so much wisdom available in our community I am immensely grateful to have you all here – listening, sharing, learning and growing from one another.
…whenever I feel depressed, and my monster growls, I drink a huge mug of mint tea, and draw my mind elsewhere. I listen to my favorite music, paint, do crosswords, or take out my bike if it’s sunny outside, put on my headphones and just get free.
I never buy anything with sugar anymore, I’ve started to plan what to eat all day in the mornings while drinking coffee, and during the day anything that is not on the list is “cheating myself”. I also bought Dalai Lama’s “The way to a meaningful life” audiobook for the soul and started to do some yoga for the body.
My best advice is: get a bicycle and get out, even if you can only pedal on straight lanes, or short distances, leave the house as often as possible, away from the kitchen and the other monster – the fridge, it will give you a sense of control and freedom, which is actually what is missing in our lives!
I have tried lots of things to calm myself down, and the only thing that seems to help besides taking a walk and just getting away from the food and the ability to even have a binge is remembering what it feels like after the binge! Yuck!
I’ve been working on having a healthier relationship with food, after struggling for over half of my 48 years of life, and I’m learning that my “baby steps” are actually major accomplishments!
Some of my sure ways to calm the storm are listed below as my top 10:
1. Pet therapy: taking time to cuddle and play with my pets (I have a very cuddly Dutch rabbit and 2 retriever dogs)
2. H20 therapy: a hot bath or shower, swim, or even a drink of water helps slow me down
3. playing my instruments: I play piano and guitar and find it relaxing, when I make myself be still enough to play
4. physical activity like running with my dogs or going on a bike ride
6. listening to music (I like watching You Tube music videos and am learning to use an IPod)
9. phoning a friend (taking a chat break)
10. taking a nature walk and looking UP
I also use an acronym for wellness: NEW START which helps me check if I have had enough
Time for Myself
Think Positive Time (affirmations, counting my blessings, journalling)
Thank you again to Alice, Patricia and Janet for those ideas! I’ve implemented some of these ideas and they’re great. In my book, How to Stop a Binge, I share more than 30 of my best self-soothing techniques. I hope you’ll check it out if you’re still binging and these racing thoughts and anxious energy have you out of control around food.
How to Prevent or Avoid the Racing Thoughts in Future
Now for my favorite part. How to create a new life that eliminates, or dramatically reduces, the racing thoughts in the first place. I truly believe that bulimia recovery isn’t about having this spotless life that’s blemish-free and perfect like in a magazine.
Quite the opposite actually.
In my experience being free from bulimia means embracing our imperfections, being real, letting our vulnerabilities show to the world (blemishes, wrinkles, cellulite and all!) and being ok with the human being we are…just the way we are.
If that’s true and we all stop striving for some perfect life, then I think we can embrace some ideas about how to life more fully – more fulfilled and balanced.
I’m pulling inspiration from two articles I enjoyed recently and thought you would like. One is from ZenHabits called The 10 Essential Rules for Slowing Down and Enjoying Life More and the second is from Tiny Buddha called 7 Tips to Help You Slow Down and Enjoy Life As It Is
From ZenHabits he suggests….
Let’s rebel against a hectic lifestyle and slow down to enjoy life. A slower-paced life means making time to enjoy your mornings, instead of rushing off to work in a frenzy. Slowing down is a conscious choice, and not always an easy one, but it leads to a greater appreciation for life and a greater level of happiness.
Here’s how to do it.
- Do less.
- Be present.
- Focus on people.
- Appreciate nature.
- Eat slower.
- Drive slower.
- Find pleasure in anything.
Gotta love that last one, right? I’m so inspired I feel like creating a 10 day challenge for doing each one a day. Pick one and then focus on it for that day. What would your life look like if you took on practicing each of these 10 methods for one day? Might be worth looking at..
You can read more of his ideas in his book found on Amazon called The Power of Less.
In the second article from Allison Marks, she suggest her 7 tips for slowing down are:
- Notice the small things.
- Count your blessings and keep perspective.
- Do not compare.
- Find joy.
- Control the controllables.
- Live in the moment.
- Trust the universe.
I particularly like how she explains tip #7. She says:
You don’t have to believe in a higher power for this one. You just have to notice all the good around you. There is proof right in front of you that things do turn out how they are supposed to. Find inspiration and hope in the happiness that surrounds you everyday.
I wholeheartedly agree and believe that starts with an attitude of gratitude. Be on the hunt or search each day for things to be grateful for in your life. See the magic and miracles that are happening for and to you each day. The universe is going out of its way to rearrange the world for us and give us a spectacular life. Being grateful for what we have is our way of thanking and blessing what we’re receiving so we welcome in more to be thankful for.
What Works for You?
Do you have any great self-soothing or calming insights or tips to share to calm those racing thoughts? How DO or COULD you slow your life down and calm your mind?
Please share your comments below.