6 Ways to Stop Intrusive Thoughts

July 27, 2018

Guy de Maupassant once said: “A sick thought can devour the body’s flesh more than fever or consumption”.  Everyone has negative thoughts at one time or another, the problem is when they become obsessions. But how can you stop intrusive thoughts?

What happens when we have repetitive, negative thoughts for hours or even days on end? They can become dangerous obsessions and even affect your health. But there’s good news. All you have to do is use specific strategies to change your mental habits and stop intrusive thoughts. 

Imagine waking up with an anxiety-inducing thought or belief in your head before you even get out of bed. As you go about your day, this nervous idea comes to your mind again and again. That’s an intrusive thought.

What are intrusive thoughts?

Everyone has occasional negative thoughts that momentarily pass through their minds. They only become a problem when you can’t let them go and instead let them circle around your mind and turn into deeply rooted ideas. At this point, your thoughts can become bothersome or even harmful.

Woman with intrusive thoughts

These thoughts obviously aren’t making anyone happy. Otherwise, we would welcome them with open arms. The inconvenient truth is that these thoughts are always about phobias, fears, worries, traumas, or deep vulnerabilities. And they don’t let us focus on anything else.

In addition to the emotional pain they initially cause, intrusive thoughts can be exhausting. Repetitive, negative thoughts tire both the person who’s suffering and the person they confide in. On top of that, intrusive thoughts distort reality to the point of imagining upsetting situations that may have nothing to do with reality.

These distortions of reality can become very harmful to your emotional health, increasing anxiety and negatively influencing your mood. The result is negative thoughts about yourself and your life, such as:

  • It’s hopeless.
  • It’s going to be a disaster.
  • I’m worthless.
  • I hate myself.
  • I’m useless.
  • I’m a failure.

And the worst part is that you believe them. However, these thoughts are caused by anxiety. So if you want to stop intrusive thoughts, take a look at some of the interesting options below.

6 ways to help you stop intrusive thoughts

Effective measures are necessary to stop repetitive, negative thoughts once and for all. Here are a few simple but effective suggestions:

Don’t try to stop them

It not only doesn’t work, but multiple scientific studies verified that it can make things worse by forcing your brain to remember them.

Accept and rationalize

Accepting that anxiety is deceiving you and causing these types of thoughts will help you relax and think of them less often.

Write them down

Writing your intrusive thoughts down is not only a great way to vent and relax, but also makes your brain interpret them as recorded. This helps your brain stop constantly bringing them up. On top of that, reading them later will help you see just how irrational they really are.

Writing thoughts down

Exercise and meditation

Exercise reduces cortisol and adrenaline levels and increases dopamine, endomorphines, and serotonin.  Basically, this swaps anxiety, stress, and sadness with tranquility, happiness, and self-esteem. This will help you put those intrusive thoughts on the shelf for a while. On the other hand, meditation is a great way to teach yourself to control your thoughts and bring your attention back to the present. And it’s also very relaxing.

Let the thought go

When intrusive thoughts do appear, don’t obsess over them nor try to to stop them. Simply accept that they’re there. Try to relax, and as you do so, your mind will find something else to focus on and the thought will go away on its own.

Take B vitamins

B vitamin deficiencies can directly interfere with effective nervous system function. Improve your intake by eating vegetables, fruits, fish, meat, and dairy products.

As you can imagine, there are many things that can help you stop intrusive thoughts. Nevertheless, they all have one thing in common: they’ll only work if you’re perseverant.