Racing thoughts. We all have them: periods of time when we can't get our minds to slow down. Often they occur late at night and long into the morning hours when we are most vulnerable. Racing thoughts are often associated with anxiety or ADHD but anyone can experience them. The difference is in the frequency and severity. But why do we have them at all? Research suggests that people who are susceptible to them have a problem with the dopamine system in their brains. Dopamine is often called the "pleasure" chemical; it's the chemical that is released when we feel sensations of joy or comfort. It appears that people who have frequent problems with racing thoughts may have less access to dopamine and may need more stimulation to get that chemical reaction in their brains. What is more "stimulating" than racing thoughts? You would think that racing thoughts, since they make us uptight, wouldn't bring on dopamine, but our brains can't always tell the difference between "good" stimulation and "bad" stimulation. If you have ADHD or anxiety disorder, you know what I mean! And unfortunately, dopamine is also associated with the reward center of the brain and so whatever increases dopamine is likely to be repeated. That's why some people have such problems with frequent racing thoughts. What can we do? Plenty! First of all, there are way more healthy ways to stimulate our brains. You know what I'm going to say: exercise, good nutrition, learning, playing fun games. Meditation does the trick best, actually. You don't have to sit in a room with a candle and say "ohm" to meditate. Mindfulness meditation can happen in just a few seconds once you have some practice and is very effective at bringing dopamine into your brain. If you want more information about Mindfulness Meditation, check out these links for some good audio clips and short explanations: http://mindfulness.org.au/MINDFULNESS%20SOUNDTRACKS.htm. or http://marc.ucla.edu/body.cfm?id=22 . And here is a link to some short but powerful exercises when done on a regular basis: http://www.the-guided-meditation-site.com/mindfulness-exercises.html. Or contact me for some Mindfulness Counseling. Try this out and kiss those racing thoughts good bye!