How JustAnswer Works:

  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.

Ask Dr. Mark Your Own Question

Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5170
Experience:  Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology in private practice
50444359
Type Your Mental Health Question Here...
Dr. Mark is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

I think too much during certain times in my cycle. I have trouble

Resolved Question:

I think too much during certain times in my cycle. I have trouble turning off my mind and seem to need continuous activities to keep me from thinking too much. I am in a relationship with someone and I can't seem to just turn it off and focus on other stuff. Do you have any suggestions?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 1 year ago.

Hi! I believe I can be of help with this issue.


I can imagine how frustrating and distressing this situation must be for you. You're clearly an active and motivated person and it must be very frustrating not being able to shut off your thinking, or racing thoughts. You've seen the connection with your menstrual cycle, but still not being able to "turn the racing thoughts off" is a problem.

I'd like to recommend to you mindfulness meditation. The principle of this type of meditation (and others also) is to NOT try to turn your thoughts off against your will, but to become more harmonious with your thinking pattern, including the racing thoughts.

Mindfulness meditation has become a standard treatment modality in psychology over the last 15 years as well as being part of Eastern practices. Psychology has studied the techniques and integrated them into our treatment of anxiety and other mood disorders as well as other problems. So it is something that I think you will find useful whether meditation is something you are naturally interested in or something you integrate to deal with this problem specifically.

Also, at the end of my answer I'm going to give you a technique you can use on your own to give you a bit of relief from the racing thoughts right away even as you begin to learn about mindfulness meditation. It's not a cure, but you can use it over and over for a little relief.



The psychologist who brought mindfulness meditation into psychology more than any other person is Jon Kabat-Zinn. His first book is the one I want you to look at: Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Pain, Stress, and Illness. Here's the Amazon page for it and you can look at some of his others there as well:

http://www.amazon.com/Full-Catastrophe-Living-Wisdom-Illness/dp/0385303122/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1292376629&sr=8-1


I want you to look at this video of him. If you stay with the video and listen carefully, I think you will hear much that will feel relevant for you:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nwwKbM_vJc

His most popular book is Wherever You Go, There You Are. It's a true classic; I think they just did an anniversary edition of it. So, enjoy getting to know Kabat-Zinn and learning to not fight against your racing thoughts but, instead, feeling more in harmony with your mind and being able to slow down your thoughts naturally.

Okay, I wish you the very best!


Now, I want to give you a tool to use for when there is anxiety or racing thoughts. Here are instructions on a therapeutic protocol called Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR). It's really quite easy to do almost anywhere. My patients suffering from racing thoughts, when I teach them PMR at first are amazed how simple it is and that it is a psychological protocol. It was first used in the 1920s! Since then, of course, it has been refined and many studies have been done showing its effectiveness. You will practice PMR at first when you don't wake up with an attack so that you will be familiar with it. I want you to practice the PMR at least 5-6 times before an attack or feeling acute anxiety. Why? Because when you're in the throes of anxiety, you will only remember to do something you are very familiar with it. So practicing 5-6 times is really a minimum. And this is good also for just general anxiety without panic attacks and for feeling as though you are in a dark hole of depression as well.

I want to stress the importance of breathing as well. Part of the physiology of what is happening to you in a panic attack is that your breathing is getting shallower. This reduces the oxygen in your blood to your brain. That increases the anxiety reaction, which strengthens the attack and you are in a vicious cycle! Not good. So breathing is the primary tool. I have found in my practice that learning breathing techniques can be helpful. But some of my patients are not interested in learning more than one thing at the beginning, so I have found that just reminding you to BREATHE deeply at the same time you are doing PMR is almost as good. If you are willing to take a yoga class and learn breathing techniques, that's the best. But, breathing deeply with your PMR will help.

So, we're ready for learning PMR. I want you to print my instructions below my signature and have a copy in each of the rooms of your home where you may be when you have an attack. And again, you need to practice this easy technique at least 5-6 times as soon as you can. It needs to become as natural to you as breathing. Ah, remember breathing?

My goal is for you to feel like you've gotten Great Service from me and the site. If we need to continue the discussion for that to happen, then please feel free to reply and we'll continue working on this. If the answer has given you the help you need, please remember to give a rating of 5 (Great Service) or 4 (Informative and helpful), or even 3 (Got the job done) button. This will make sure that I am credited for the answer and you are not charged anything more than the deposit you already made by pressing any of these buttons. Bonuses are always appreciated! If I can be of further help with any issue now or in the future, just put "For Dr. Mark" in the front of your new question, and I'll be the one to answer it. All the best, XXXXX XXXXX


INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. After finding a quiet place and several free minutes to practice progressive muscle relaxation, sit or lie down and make yourself comfortable.
  2. Begin by tensing all the muscles in your face. Make a tight grimace, close your eyes as tightly as possible, clench your teeth, even move your ears up if you can. Hold this for the count of eight as you inhale.
  3. Now exhale and relax completely. Let your face go completely lax, as though you were sleeping. Feel the tension seep from your facial muscles, and enjoy the feeling.
  4. Next, completely tense your neck and shoulders, again inhaling and counting to eight. Then exhale and relax.
  5. Continue down your body, repeating the procedure with the following muscle groups:
    • chest
    • abdomen
    • entire right arm
    • right forearm and hand (making a fist)
    • right hand
    • entire left arm
    • left forearm and hand (again, making a fist)
    • left hand
    • buttocks
    • entire right leg
    • lower right leg and foot
    • right foot
    • entire left leg
    • lower left leg and foot
    • left foot
  6. for the shortened version, which includes just four main muscle groups:
    • face
    • neck, shoulders and arms
    • abdomen and chest
    • buttocks, legs and feet

Quickly focusing on each group one after the other, with practice you can relax your body like ‘liquid relaxation’ poured on your head and it flowed down and completely covered you. You can use progressive muscle relaxation to quickly de-stress any time.

What You Need:

  • A comfortable place.
  • Some privacy.
  • A few minutes.

Again:

My goal is for you to feel like you've gotten Great Service from me and the site. If we need to continue the discussion for that to happen, then please feel free to reply and we'll continue working on this. If the answer has given you the help you need, please remember to give a rating of 5 (Great Service) or 4 (Informative and helpful), or even 3 (Got the job done) button. This will make sure that I am credited for the answer and you are not charged anything more than the deposit you already made by pressing any of these buttons. Bonuses are always appreciated! If I can be of further help with any issue now or in the future, just put "For Dr. Mark" in the front of your new question, and I'll be the one to answer it. All the best, XXXXX XXXXX

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi. I do practice yoga. . . in fact, I just started and do it 4 times a week, so I do understand your instructions, however, after the relaxation, the racing thoughts come back. I like the idea of learning not to fight against the racing thoughts. . . can you say more about that?

Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 1 year ago.
Yes, I'll be glad to:


It's winter, so let me start with a metaphor from driving on snow/ice: when your car begins to swerve, the instructions are always to not turn the wheel to lurch AGAINST the swerve, but to turn your wheels toward the swerve. Meaning, that you don't fight the skid, you go with it and thus you can slow down your car gradually as you move in that skid direction without fishtailing and losing control.


The metaphor may not be intuitive or easy for you, but the point is this: we do not fight the car's direction when it is out of our control. We can't control the car's direction when we're skidding, so trying to fight it is counterproductive: we lose even more control.


I hope this is now becoming a little clearer: when your mind is racing, your thoughts are racing, you are no longer in control of your thoughts. That anxiety has now made your thoughts speed up. And when you try to fight against these racing thoughts, you increase the anxiety rather than decrease it. This is the similarity to our metaphor of the car: when you are in the state of racing thoughts/anxiety, trying to fight what your mind needs to deal with the anxiety (racing thoughts) only makes you lose control even more.



The instructions, then, are to stop resisting the racing thoughts. Instead, pay attention to them. The great psychiatrist Viktor Frankl recommended even inviting them to come in. Not fighting them, then, here means relaxing about it, feeling okay about having these racing thoughts, even inviting them.


To do these, you have to recognize that these thoughts are not harmful, they are not destructive, they are your thoughts and you, in a sense, embrace them.


The next step is to then pay attention to them and treat them as valid and interesting thoughts. What are they saying? What are the thoughts about? You're even allowed to ask questions about the thoughts and think about them. Just as if they were regular thoughts.


This is to be accompanied with breathing, relaxed and calm breathing. And meditative positioning of your body if possible. As we are Westerners, that means our backs supported usually.


This will take practice, like all your exercise and meditative techniques. But it will be very rewarding. And it is a very beautiful meditative exercise as well that you should practice before racing thoughts happen with just regular thoughts.


Again, I wish you the very best!


My goal is for you to feel like you've gotten Great Service from me and the site. If we need to continue the discussion for that to happen, then please feel free to reply and we'll continue working on this. If the answer has given you the help you need, please remember to give a rating of 5 (Great Service) or 4 (Informative and helpful), or even 3 (Got the job done) button. This will make sure that I am credited for the answer and you are not charged anything more than the deposit you already made by pressing any of these buttons. Bonuses are always appreciated! If I can be of further help with any issue now or in the future, just put "For Dr. Mark" in the front of your new question, and I'll be the one to answer it. All the best, XXXXX XXXXX
Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5170
Experience: Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology in private practice
Dr. Mark and 3 other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you

JustAnswer in the News:

 
 
 
Ask-a-doc Web sites: If you've got a quick question, you can try to get an answer from sites that say they have various specialists on hand to give quick answers... Justanswer.com.
JustAnswer.com...has seen a spike since October in legal questions from readers about layoffs, unemployment and severance.
Web sites like justanswer.com/legal
...leave nothing to chance.
Traffic on JustAnswer rose 14 percent...and had nearly 400,000 page views in 30 days...inquiries related to stress, high blood pressure, drinking and heart pain jumped 33 percent.
Tory Johnson, GMA Workplace Contributor, discusses work-from-home jobs, such as JustAnswer in which verified Experts answer people’s questions.
I will tell you that...the things you have to go through to be an Expert are quite rigorous.
 
 
 

What Customers are Saying:

 
 
 
  • I can go as far as to say it could have resulted in saving my sons life and our entire family now knows what bipolar is and how to assist and understand my most wonderful son, brother and friend to all who loves him dearly. Thank you very much Corrie Moll Pretoria, South Africa
< Last | Next >
  • I can go as far as to say it could have resulted in saving my sons life and our entire family now knows what bipolar is and how to assist and understand my most wonderful son, brother and friend to all who loves him dearly. Thank you very much Corrie Moll Pretoria, South Africa
  • I thank-you so much! It really helped to have this information and confirmation. We will watch her carefully and get her in for the examination and US right away if things do not improve. God bless you as well! Claudia Albuquerque, NM
  • Outstanding response time less than 6 minutes. Answered the question professionally and with a great deal of compassion. Kevin Beaverton, OR
  • Suggested diagnosis was what I hoped and will take this info to my doctor's appointment next week.
    I feel better already! Thank you.
    Elanor Tracy, CA
  • Thank you to the Physician who answered my question today. The answer was far more informative than what I got from the Physicians I saw in person for my problem. Julie Lockesburg, AR
  • You have been more help than you know. I seriously don't know what my sisters situation would be today if you had not gone above and beyond just answering my questions. John and Stefanie Tucson, AZ
  • I have been dealing with an extremely serious health crisis for over three years, and one your physicians asked me more questions, gave me more answers and encouragement than a dozen different doctors who have been treating me!! Janet V Phoenix, AZ
 
 
 

Meet The Experts:

 
 
 
  • Dr. Keane

    Therapist

    Satisfied Customers:

    1262
    Clinical Psychology PhD, Licensed Professional Counselor with experience in marriage/family, teens and child psychology.
< Last | Next >
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/DR/Dr.Keane/2013-8-20_204325_drkeane.64x64.jpg Dr. Keane's Avatar

    Dr. Keane

    Therapist

    Satisfied Customers:

    1262
    Clinical Psychology PhD, Licensed Professional Counselor with experience in marriage/family, teens and child psychology.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/RE/resolutions66/2011-1-17_05728_IMG8202smilingeditedforJustAnswer.64x64.jpg Elliott, LPCC, NCC's Avatar

    Elliott, LPCC, NCC

    Psychotherapist

    Satisfied Customers:

    5024
    35 years of experience as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, National Certified Counselor and a college professor.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/formybunch/2010-12-06_191055_img_0975.jpg Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC's Avatar

    Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC

    Therapist

    Satisfied Customers:

    3733
    Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/DR/DrAkiraOlsen/2012-2-20_746_AkiraADpicmain.64x64.jpg Dr. Olsen's Avatar

    Dr. Olsen

    Psychologist

    Satisfied Customers:

    2336
    PsyD Psychologist
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/norriem/2009-5-27_134249_nm.jpg Norman M.'s Avatar

    Norman M.

    Psychotherapist

    Satisfied Customers:

    2193
    UK trained in hypnotherapy, counselling and psychotherapy and have been in private practice. ADHP(NC), DEHP(NC), UKCP Registered and ECP.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/PsychologyProf/2010-07-15_171248_logos060400409.jpg Dr. Michael's Avatar

    Dr. Michael

    Psychologist

    Satisfied Customers:

    2177
    Licensed Ph.D. Clinical Health Psychology with 30 years of experience in private practive and as a clinical psychology university professor.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/KURTEMMERLING/2010-07-23_215531_just_ask_picture1.jpg Steven Olsen's Avatar

    Steven Olsen

    Therapist

    Satisfied Customers:

    1727
    More than twenty years of expertise in counseling, psychological diagnosis and education
 
 
 
Chat Now With A Mental Health Professional
Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark
4757 Satisfied Customers
Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology in private practice