The Truth About Racing Thoughts & Anxiety

When you feel like your thoughts are controlling you, life can feel pretty stressful.  We all have automatic thoughts- it’s just part of being human.  Sometimes automatic thoughts can be pleasant, “What beautiful weather” or “I have so much energy this morning.”  But for those of us that suffer from anxiety, automatic thoughts may be full of “I should have done this”, “I shouldn’t have said that”, “I always ruin everything”, and “I never do anything right.”  This type of thinking usually feeds into a loop of racing negative thoughts; keeping us trapped in a cycle of never-ending suffering.  Gaining insight and awareness into the nature of our thoughts can help us figure out what to do about them.


Gaining Insight & Awareness

  • Research has found that our thoughts are not reliable.  I repeat, OUR THOUGHTS ARE NOT RELIABLE!  Thoughts are not facts.  However, the thoughts that we focus on and play over and over again in our minds are the ones we tend to believe.  This has a lot to do with brain chemistry and the strengthening of neural pathways.
  • Thoughts trigger emotions.  Emotions trigger behaviors.  Behaviors trigger more thoughts which trigger more emotions and more behaviors.  Therefore, anxious thoughts trigger anxious emotions.  Anxious emotions trigger anxious behaviors.  Anxious behaviors trigger more anxious thoughts which trigger more anxious emotions…. You see where we’re going here?


What Can You Do About It?

It is possible to break the cycle.  You can divert the mind from repetitive thoughts and reduce anxiety.  Here are some things that you can start doing today:

  • See if you can look at a situation from a different perspective. Life throws things at us sometimes and we can focus on how horrible things are or try to find the silver lining.  Try to find even one or two positive things that may come out of the situation.
  • Check the facts. Are your thoughts lining up with reality?  What does the evidence show?  Often times we are doing better than our thoughts tell us that we’re doing.
  • Move a muscle, change a thought. Get up.  Take a walk.  Take a stretch.  Do 10 jumping jacks.  Move your body and notice how your mind shifts.
  • Take 3 deep breaths. Deep, belly breaths.  Open your mouth and make a big sigh on the exhale.
  • Close your eyes and imagine yourself going through this day without anxious racing thoughts. What kinds of things do you do?  What do you do differently?  What does it feel like?  Do you look different when you feel more at peace?
  • Talk to someone.  Our thoughts are way more powerful when we keep them in our mind.  Talking to someone you trust can help to sort things out.  And you may just find that more people relate to your experience than you thought.


You do not have to live the rest of your life being controlled by anxiety and racing thoughts.  You mind is powerful and adaptable.  You have the ability to challenge automatic thoughts and replace them with ones that will create the life you want to live.  When you commit to this practice, your mind will eventually start to reject thinking patterns that are not in alignment with who you truly are.



Author: Meredith Futernick, LMHC, LPC, CCHT, ERYT200

Meredith Futernick is a licensed counselor, clinical hypnotherapist, and yoga instructor.  She works with clients via video, phone, and chat; helping them manage anxiety and change negative patterns.  If you are interested in booking a session with Meredith, check out her website at


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