How To Stop Intrusive Thoughts? Here’s What Experts Say In 2024

Do you ever have sudden, extremely stressful thoughts about a real or hypothetical situation? 

Learning how to stop unwanted intrusive thoughts begins with learning how to recognize them. An intrusive thought typically occurs when you are idle, attempting to sleep, or encountering triggers. You may be afraid that what you imagine will happen, or it may indicate a mental health problem. 

According to one study, such thoughts are known as intrusive or obsessive thoughts and affect over 90%[1] of people. Although obsessive thoughts can be depressing, attempting to stop them often worsens them.

Continue reading to learn more about how intrusive thoughts happen, how they might affect you, and how to stop them, including natural remedies and self-care practices.

You Can Stop Intrusive Thoughts By Following These Steps

Learning to recognize them.

Distinguishing them from reality. 

Making peace with the present situation.

Embracing positivity.

Keeping track of the triggers.

Allowing time for healing.

Increasing your resistance to disruption.

Expecting more intrusive thoughts.

Sharing with someone.

How To Stop Intrusive Thoughts?

But unless they are tolerated, they have no bearing on real life. Photo: Team Design

Here are nine tips on how to stop having intrusive thoughts:

1. Learn To Identify Intrusive Thoughts

The first step in learning to stop obsessive thoughts is recognizing and comprehending them. Labeling such thoughts as intrusive aids in understanding that they do not reflect intent or personality and can help reduce the anxiety level they cause. It also helps to distinguish them from regular thoughts and decreases the frequency with which they occur.

2. Distinguish Them From Reality

Significant anxiety is brought on by intrusive thoughts, which, when projected into reality, can be very convincing. People have believed myths for centuries that intrusive thoughts have spiritual significance. As a result, to decipher their messages, people frequently try to connect them with real-life situations.

However, it is more effective to debunk intrusive thoughts scientifically than to attempt to rationalize them spiritually. Unless they are tolerated, they have no bearing on real life.

3. Make Peace With The Presence Of Intrusive Thoughts

The first instinct that comes to mind when intrusive thoughts arise is suppressing them. However, experts warn that suppressing or repressing[2] obsessive thoughts has the opposite effect of intensifying them.

Instead, accept them and find a highly engaging activity to occupy your mind while simultaneously avoiding multitasking. This is because multitasking can increase stress and encourage more intrusive thoughts.

With time you will develop tolerance and make peace with the fact that they are only thoughts, ultimately becoming emotionally detached from them.

4. Embrace Positivity

Your perception of life and the amount of energy you have are influenced by the type of energy you consume. If you have intrusive thoughts, a positive lifestyle change can make you happier and gradually eliminate them.

You must adopt repetitive behaviors that increase dopamine levels, such as a healthy diet, regular exercise, and mindfulness.[3] Additionally, establish a bedtime and evening routine that prepares you for sleep. 

For instance, making your bedroom darker, cleaner, and sufficiently aerated can work well if you’re wondering how to stop intrusive thoughts at night. In addition, exercising in the morning stimulates and jump-starts your day with a burst of dopamine.

5. Track The Triggers

Intrusive thoughts must have a cause, which relates primarily to your interactions and thoughts throughout the day. Keeping track of intrusive thoughts can assist in identifying patterns that contribute to their occurrence. 

Keeping track of mood swings throughout the day will aid in identifying triggers and potential solutions to the underlying problem. For example, you may notice that obsessive thoughts occur only after watching a provocative movie, too much social media, listening to scary stories, or remaining idle. 

Recognize that you have no control over intrusive thoughts, and instead of avoiding them, concentrate on determining what causes them.

6. Allow Time To Heal

Time is the ultimate healer for emotions brought on by distracting thoughts. Accept that you cannot eliminate obsessive thoughts overnight and give yourself time to heal.

You will become less sensitive to such thoughts and eventually overcome them if you have a coping system. The more you experience and process such emotions, the more your subconscious recognizes that they are harmless unless acted upon.  

The experience, in the long run, reduces the anxiety that intrusive thoughts can cause.

7. Build Resilience To Disruption

Intrusive thoughts can only influence your actions at best. They manifest as your internal words and speech[4] process and become more powerful when you fixate on them.

Intrusive thoughts can reduce productivity and make you more pessimistic about life, raising stress levels. Your strongest line of defense is being consistent with coping mechanisms to build resilience and prevent them from affecting your reality.

8. Expect More Intrusive Thoughts

Since intrusive thoughts are natural and pertain to various aspects of life, there is no surefire way to eradicate them permanently. The mind generates junk thoughts, frequently targeting an individual’s insecurities or desires.

Learning coping skills, like accepting that such thoughts will sometimes return, will give you the best chance of handling them.

9. Share With Someone

Many victims hesitate to seek help because intrusive thoughts can humiliate, suggest weakness, or implicate one as deranged. However, talking about your feelings with someone you trust can be calming. These people can serve as a support system, offering affirmation as you progress toward a healthier lifestyle. 

Various types of therapy are available today, including group and individual therapy. As you listen to another person’s perspective, you can better distinguish between reality and imagination. Someone who is not emotionally affected by the thought will be able to judge the situation rationally and assist you in breaking free from self-destructive thoughts.

What Are Intrusive Thoughts?

Intrusive thoughts are recurring negative thoughts that cause significant distress. 

Intrusive thoughts are mostly based on fictitious scenarios, but they frequently lead the affected to believe they are doomed to commit an evil act or become a victim. They can harm your self-image, especially in relationships or social acceptance.

Frequently embarrassing, intrusive thoughts concern relationships, sexual orientation, spirituality, or insecurities. Consequently, most people prefer to keep them private. 

Although most obsessive thoughts are meaningless, the pressure causes victims to seek some form of reassurance or an avoidance coping mechanism,[5] which can only work if they develop a tolerance to these thoughts. 

Intrusive thoughts thrive when they are tolerated, fought blindly, over-obsessed with, or attempted to be deciphered without direction.

Causes Of Intrusive Thoughts

Identifying the root causes is essential for figuring out how to halt intrusive thoughts. Photo: Team Design

Understanding the underlying causes is critical in determining how to stop intrusive thoughts about relationships, health, safety, and spiritual life. Allowing anxiety to build up by obsessing over them is the root cause of many problems.

Personal experiences and reactions to special events can also impact intrusive thoughts. The association between anxiety and depression association only confirms that intrusive thoughts are linked to various anxiety disorders and mental illnesses, including post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Speculating magnifies the severity of intrusive thoughts. How to deal with intrusive thoughts? For example, if you are concerned that an accident will occur because one has recently occurred nearby. When you notice an intrusive thought developing, immediately disengage by looking for an alternative activity to occupy your thought process.

How Can We Diagnose?

You can tell if a thought is intrusive if: 

It is one you don’t normally have.

It’s challenging to manage.

It gives off an alien impression of you. 

It is incredibly stressful, and you only want to eliminate it.

When You Need To Seek Help From A Doctor

A mental health professional can assist you. Photo: Team Design

Addressing underlying issues such as anxiety, stress, or a history of trauma can eliminate intrusive thoughts. However, if you have exhausted the above options, it may be time to seek professional help.

If an intrusive thought interferes with your daily life, such as reducing your productivity or impeding your social life, a mental health professional can assist you. Many free resources, such as peer-reviewed research and online specialists, systematically teach you how to stop intrusive thoughts anxiety and how to stop intrusive thoughts related to OCD.

Therapy is a short-term treatment that can aid in the long-term management of intrusive thoughts. A therapy treatment called cognitive behavioral therapy can teach you to live with rather than repress a disturbing thought. 

Such therapy helps you control intrusive thoughts by taming your general thinking patterns. They expose you to triggers during therapy to build your tolerance and approach mechanisms for dealing with such thoughts.

Although therapy is effective, medication such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors[6] may be prescribed for post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. If you are hesitant to share your thoughts with someone who knows you, you can seek online therapy, which may be just as effective.

The Bottom Line

Many people lack an understanding of why intrusive thoughts occur and thus have turned to pseudoscience to try to manage them. However, such unwanted thoughts are not your fault. Fixating over intrusive thoughts drives people to destructive tendencies and increases the risk of other mental health conditions.

Accepting that everyone has negative thoughts occasionally will open the door to anxiety-reduction strategies. In the end, however, your ability to develop a different relationship with intrusive thoughts and recognize them for what they are will determine your level of success in overcoming them.

The post How To Stop Intrusive Thoughts? Here’s What Experts Say In 2024 appeared first on Blurt It Out.

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