Racing thoughts can be mental torture. Ruminating is exhausting and stressful. You are never at peace while your mind is continuously in gear.

Before you discover ways to control your racing thoughts, it’s necessary to know the source of your overactive mind.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and ADHD might be causing your thoughts to cycle viciously through your mind. When you know the source, it’s easier to manage the behavior.

Most people think of changing a behavior pattern when that behavior is disturbing them. But if you really want to break a harmful habit, you have to do it before it happens. You have to prepare yourself before your thoughts start racing.

1. Release the shame and guilt.

Most people ruminate, but everyone has a different style. Some people are disturbed by their overactive thoughts, yet others seem to manage it just fine. Don’t feel bad about yourself. Your racing thoughts are sources of creativity and inspiration.

2. Let go and keep moving.

Racing images that fly through your mind at hyperspeed get stuck in a repetitive cycle. Ruminating thoughts are scratches on a broken record (remember those black plastic discs that go round and round). If you’re a spiritual person, borrow from AA the most helpful phrase ever created to ease anxious thinking, worry, and fear… Let Go and Let God. And if you’re not, create your own calming mantra to quiet your mind.

3. Become a Zen master.

Like a Zen master sitting in silent meditation on the top of a mountain; you too must practice mindfulness. When you learn how to be present in the here and now and how to breathe, you become the master of your mind. This is a skill that takes practice. Don’t be discouraged, anyone can do it. If your thoughts are disrupting your life, set aside five minutes every morning and five minutes before you go to bed to practice mantra meditation and breathing. When you learn how to bring yourself into the “here and now,” your mind is quiet, and your thoughts will slow down.

If you are feeling anxious about learning how to conquer your racing thoughts, relax. It’s not as hard as you think. Just breathe. Inhale and exhale. Relax and let go. Inhale calm, exhale ease. Calm, ease, and repeat.

4. Do a reality check.

Many times I’ve given myself a gentle pat on my face just to snap back to reality. The imagination is a strong force when the negative thought cyclone gets hold of it. You believe what you think. When in reality, it’s just a movie you have created in your mind. And if you’re a creative person; your creations are intense, making them more realistic. If you’re into statistics, this one is easy. What are the chances of your visions becoming reality? Sadly, our loved ones put themselves in situations that haunt us all day and night. So it’s up to you to wipe out those thoughts and bring yourself back to reality.

Yes, it’s a lot of work. But it works. It’s much better than letting your mind wander into darkness.