Learn more about psychology with this collection
How to overcome unwanted thoughts
How to manage intrusive thoughts
How to change your attitude towards intrusive thoughts
Visualizing your thoughts can allow you to feel more in control of them.
For example, you could picture your mind as a blue sky, and your thoughts as passing clouds. Some of the clouds are light, and some dark, but none of them are permanent.
This is a mindfulness technique known as thought clouds, but it can be used outside of meditation practice.
Animals can be incredibly calming to an anxious mind. They have no understanding of our complex, troubled thoughts, so they can provide distraction and uncomplicated emotional support.
In addition, animal-assisted therapy for trauma is becoming more common.
Our brains can be incredibly good at telling us stories that feel like reality. So, an intrusive thought can take on outsized power when it only exists in your mind.
Consider externalizing the thought, by journaling or even just speaking it out loud, and see whether the impact of it changes.
Intrusive thoughts can often lead you to focus on the negative and create stories that aren’t based on reality. Without even realizing it, you may be spending a lot of your time living in the past, or obsessing about the future.
Focusing on the present moment can be a powerful way to manage this.
Grounding techniques that can help you center your focus may include:
According to the American Psychological Association, there’s a lot of evidence that spending time in nature can boost mental health and sharpen cognitive abilities.
Taking a walk or jog in a green space can help you to break a cycle of rumination, by engaging your body and your senses in a way that gets your mind off your thoughts.
Not all of these tips will be practical in every situation. But one thing you can always try to do is reframe the intrusive thought you’re having.
Consider observing your thoughts without judgment, and approaching them with curiosity by turning your attention to how your body responds to certain thoughts that may arise.
Distressing thoughts could be your brain’s way of processing something.
More like this
Why Do We Have Intrusive Thoughts?
Managing intrusive thoughts - Harvard Health
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