Hi. It’s Jenny at AnxietyBoss.com. Our question today comes to us from Kristin in Camden, New Jersey. I am not able to sleep at night at all. I keep thinking and thinking. I cannot stop thinking.
Well, one of the symptoms of anxiety is racing or obsessive thoughts. Having obsessive thoughts means having either intrusive thoughts or thoughts that continue despite efforts to stop. Unfortunately, many people have an increase in anxiety at night and it interferes with their sleep patterns.
The best way to interrupt racing thoughts and get some sleep is to use cognitive therapy. Begin by keeping a journal. Before going to bed, write down your thoughts using a daily journal. This can help to sort out continual thoughts. Now in the journal write down all of your thoughts, then practice compartmentalizing them. Take the journal and put it in a drawer or box. Put it somewhere where it’s put away, but it’s accessible when you need it. As it’s being put away, use self-talk, say, “I am putting away my thoughts for now. They are still there, but I will deal with them tomorrow.” This is truthful because the problem still exists, but it doesn’t have to stay in thought form. Since they’re written down, they won’t be forgotten. In addition, allowing the opportunity to put the problems to rest for night gives permission that you can also take a rest.
If these thoughts continue, use more self-talk. Identifying your anxiety is something that can be addressed and solved immediately. For example, if you wake up at two in the morning with anxiety about a bill, there’s nothing that can be accomplished at that time. In this example, nothing can be done about the bill until the office or bank opens at 9 a.m. Tell yourself, “I can’t do anything now, but I can do it tomorrow at 9 a.m.” can again give a sense of power and help to deescalate your anxiety. Keep repeating that. “It will be managed later and it will be okay.”
This self-talk can be very helpful in emotionally and physically calming your anxiety. There are, of course, more things that you can do, and you can find that information, as well as a test to see how your anxiety is compared to others on AnxietyBoss.com.