It’s easy to become emotionally overwhelmed after periods of intense anxiety or during times of heightened stress. While there’s no such thing as a “good” or “bad” feeling, we often catastrophize and let our emotions run rampant during these times. Slowing your racing emotions can be difficult in the heat of the moment, but practicing some self-soothing techniques will allow it to become second nature:
1. Ground yourself in the physical world
One of the best ways to escape your racing internal state is to focus on your current external state; you can do this by participating in grounding exercises. Because the feeling of touch best associates us with the physical world, this is what you’ll want to focus on when you’re experiencing racing emotions.
Sit down in your chair, place both of your feet on the ground, and focus on how your body feels physically connected to the world. How do your feet feel in your shoes? How do your feet in your shoes feel as they touch the floor? Touch various tangible items around you. Notice the feeling of your pen as you pick it up and the form it takes as you use it to write. Wash your hands and notice the sensation of the cool water. The more you’re immersed in the outside world, the less you’ll be absorbed by the world inside your head.
2. Talk to yourself in a soothing way
When you’re stressed, feeling down, or experiencing a range of racing emotions, it’s probably helpful to talk to your friends, family, or significant other. But instead of relying on them to make you feel better, you can self-soothe and learn to rely on yourself. When our emotions are heightened, it’s easy to feel vulnerable and let your self-critic speak up. But you can combat this inner critic by speaking to yourself in a loving way. Be gentle and compassionate with yourself. Tell yourself facts that your loved ones would tell you: “I know you are struggling right now, but it will get better”, “you’ve been here before and have found a way out”, “I love you and I am here for you.” When you allow yourself to give and receive love, you become equipped to slow your racing emotions on your own.
Keeping our stress and emotions inside of our head only allows them to grow. Eventually, you may get to the point where you don’t even know why you’re feeling stressed or overly emotional. This is understandable because it’s impossible to deal with numerous racing thoughts at once. However, this doesn’t mean they should be dismissed. So, instead, when you start to feel overwhelmed, write your feelings down on a piece of paper. Just removing the burden of your thoughts from your head relieves stress and allows you to revisit them later.
4. Focus on the present
“If you are depressed you are living in the past, if you are anxious you are living in the future, if you are at peace you are living in the present” – Lao Tzu. Most of the time there is absolutely nothing we can do to change the past or the future, yet this is where so many of our racing emotions stem from. So in order to slow them down, we need to focus on living in the current moment. Mindfulness and breathing exercises are especially helpful in this form of self-soothing.
5. Release endorphins
When our emotions are running high, it can be helpful to find a good release. Because exercise also boots endorphins, it’s one of the best ways to get out of your own head. Go for a run, turn up the music and dance, or just do some jumping jacks. It may surprise you that just a few minutes of movement can clear your head and decrease your emotional stress.
Racing emotions are something we’ve all experienced at some point in our lives. But the more you practice these self-soothing exercises, the easier it’ll be to slow them down.