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Health & FitnessThe right way to manage intrusive thoughts

The right way to manage intrusive thoughts

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Our thoughts are never within our control and and it’s quite normal for our mind to veer from on thought to another and at times these thoughts can be extremely negative as well.

A disturbing, violent or aggressive thought is nothing to be ashamed of, thoughts are just that, merely thoughts and too many things should not be read into them.

Intrusive thoughts can range from the above-mentioned to sexual thoughts to worrying about saying the wrong thing or anxiety about how one is perceived. Basically it can include any number of things.

According to one study, 94% of people have intrusive thoughts and one of the most common among these were concerns about doing things correctly.

Very often intrusive thoughts are also associated with a mental health disorder, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder which can be triggered by a life-threatening or extremely stressful event. Harvard Medical school Psychiatry lecturer Dr Kerry-Ann Williams said that most people who experience these thoughts though don’t have a mental health disorder.

Sometimes these thoughts can also be the result of biological factors such as hormone shifts for instance a woman may have more intrusive thoughts after the birth of a child.

Harvard Medial school assistant professor of psychiatry Dr Olivera Bogunovic says that many women experience significant amounts of stress from isolation due to the pandemic. In addition they may also start to feel more isolated, develop a fear of aging or start to have physical ailments which in turn causes an increase in anxiety and obsessive thinking.

Dr Williams said that there are times perfectly normal people can come up to her and say something like, “I’m not crazy but this weird thought comes into my mind and that thought could include even hurting a family member, such as a baby. Then they are horrified thinking something is wrong with them.

Managing Intrusive Thoughts

Don’t suppress them, because if you do it just makes you think about it all the more. Divert your attention with an engaging activity for example try completing a crossword puzzle or reading a book.

This one sounds like common sense but needs to be said, if you’re thinking about death don’t start watching a movie about serial killers, opt for a comedy or lighter story instead.

Recognize the thought, acknowledge it and let it pass. Accept it as just another passing thought and don’t give any energy to it.

Keep a journal of your overall mood. Track the patterns and pin down the root cause of what may be triggering the thoughts. You may notice recurring patterns over time.

Change your daily routine by incorporating healthier eating habits, practicing yoga and going for walks. Also notice the time of day that these thoughts arise the most and make a habit of doing the above in advance before the thoughts start to intrude.

Talk therapy. Talk to a friend or a professional. Talking really helps and should never be underestimated. Speak openly about how you’re feeling to the right person. Sometimes talking to a stranger is easier.

If it’s not going away and getting to you then talk to a mental health professional without any further delay.

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