How to Beat Intrusive Thoughts (steps)

This blog explains in detail the intrusive thoughts and lays emphasis on how to beat intrusive thoughts. There is a lot more to learn about controlling intrusive thoughts in this blog, so let’s not delay further and take a start from the definition of intrusive thoughts.

What Are Intrusive Thoughts?

Intrusive thoughts are thoughts that invade your mind, often without notice or warning, with information that is unsettling, upsetting, or just plain weird. 

They ‘re thoughts that we all have at some point, but for some people, these thoughts get “stuck” and cause a great deal of distress (Seif & Winston, 2018).

What Conditions Include Intrusive Thoughts?

Anybody can encounter distracting thoughts. More than 6 million people in the United States are expected to witness it. Many people will not mention it to their physicians or therapists. It’s difficult to get something out of your head.

Intrusive thoughts are not always the consequence of the underlying condition. They ‘re also unlikely to mean that you have a condition that needs medical attention. However, for certain individuals, repetitive thoughts may be a sign of a mental health disorder.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) happens when obsessive thought is uncontrollable. Such repetitive thoughts, or obsessions, can cause a person to repeat habits (compulsions) in hopes that they can put an end to thoughts and prevent them from happening in the future. 

Sources of this form of obsessive thought include anxiety about locking doors and turning off ovens or worrying bacteria on surfaces. An individual with OCD can develop a routine of testing and testing locks multiple times or washing their hands multiple times a day. In both cases, this is an unhealthful outcome that affects their quality of life.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) frequently encounter repetitive feelings that may be related to a traumatic incident. Such thoughts can cause symptoms of PTSD, such as increased heart rate and sweating. In some cases, these thought processes can be so severe that they lead to flashbacks and extreme psychological distress.

Eating Disorders

People who have developed eating disorders can experience repetitive thoughts that are detrimental to their mental health. Finally, thoughts can harm their physical health. 

Individuals with eating disorders also think about the physical effect that food can have on their bodies. This, in effect, leads to a great deal of difficulty with food. It can also induce additional actions, such as purging, in an attempt to avoid thinking.

What Causes Them?

Intrusive thoughts may happen at random. Some thoughts are wandering in your brain. Then, just as quickly, they ‘re going to exit. They don’t create a lasting impression. Mundane thoughts pass, but destructive thoughts linger longer and always come back. 

In certain cases, repetitive thoughts are the product of underlying mental health problems, such as OCD and PTSD. Such thoughts may also be a symptom of another health condition, such as: 

  • brain damage
  • dementia
  • Parkinson’s disease 

Changes to mental health are not anything to take lightly. Early symptoms of certain conditions may include: 

  • Changes in patterns of thought 
  • Obsessive Thought 
  • Thinking of unsettling images 

These thoughts are nothing to be embarrassed by, but they are a good reason to seek care and prognosis.

How to Beat Intrusive Thoughts?

Intrusive thoughts can be beaten in the following ways:

1. Learning to Accept your Thoughts

Mindfulness and acceptance and commitment therapy methods are beneficial in accepting your thinking process. Right now, if you’re suffering, you’re not able to accept your thoughts as ‘just a thought.’ You’re reacting to them as if they were real or worried that you might act on your thoughts and do some harm either morally, to yourself, or to someone else. You’ve probably developed a number of ways to cope with your thoughts, which may include ignoring things or trying to avoid your thoughts.

Once you have been trained to embrace them, with practice, your thoughts will no longer mean anything to you. The reason they keep coming into your mind right now is that you shine a spotlight on them, trying to find out what they say, trying to stop them, and employing a variety of tactics to make sure you don’t do any harm. Your subconscious has determined that ‘this is something we’ll have to pay careful attention to.’

2. Take the Thoughts Less Personally

You need to be taught that thinking doesn’t mean anything to you as a human. 

3. Take the Fear Out of your Thoughts. 

Giving an emotional reaction to the substance of your thoughts keeps the unwelcome thinking alive in your mind. When you can let the thought come into your head, and your emotions are not disturbed, the thoughts begin to lose their strength.

4. Stop Changing Your Behaviors

You might have changed the way you exist in the world to prevent you from causing some kind of harm (about your thoughts, for example). If you have persistent thoughts about knives, you may have moved the knives in your kitchen, or 

Whether you have intrusive thoughts about children, you may be avoiding children’s parties, or you may be extra careful how you look at a boy, or you may be uncomfortable bathing and dressing them. 

5. Schedule Daily Exposure Time to Deliberately Provoke the Thought

Designate a limited amount of time per day to think constantly about repetitive thoughts on purpose while not engaging in any compulsions or evasions. I recommend that you do this for 20-30 minutes at the end of the day or when distractions are minimal. Some level of exposure experience is better than none at all. You can’t take a break from the OCD and expect it to be like waiting for a medical patient to take a rest from their cancer or diabetes. The only way to get better in handling your intrusive thoughts is to exercise practice. The practice is equal to perseverance.

6.  Be Physically Healthy

Make physical exercise and diet a portion of your way of living. Do you know that even a fast 10-minute walk will give you a few hours of relaxation and can have the same impact as taking aspirin? Have at least 150 minutes of moderately strenuous physical activity a week, such as a short stroll, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise, such as jogging or swimming laps, or a combination of both. Exercise also helps to get a good night’s sleep (which is also critical for anxiety management).

When it comes to what you consume, stay away from fried foods and candy, and try to avoid intoxicating drink, coffee, and other caffeine beverages. It’s important to stay hydrated so you can drink plenty of water. Some foods and supplements can help to reduce anxiety and remain calm, such as Probiotics and foods high in vitamin B and tryptophan. Omega 3 – fatty acids and foods containing complex proteins or are full of protein can also help to boost concentration and mood.

7. Have a Sense of Humor

The content of these intrusive thoughts can be so tragic, and sometimes outrageously dumb, that sometimes you just need to chuckle. Laughter is an instant mood booster. It releases beta-endorphins, creating a sense of euphoria. So try to make fun of your OCD, watch a comedy show, watch a dumb YouTube video clip, find a funny filter on Snapchat, or just spend some time meeting with an old friend and just laugh out loud. Research shows that it will make you feel better even though you laugh on purpose. Go ahead, check it out!

Recommended Books

The following is a list of some good books on intrusive or anxious thoughts. These books are a great source of increasing knowledge. Just click the book you wish to study and you will be redirected to the page form where you can access it.

Do intrusive thoughts ever go away?

Unwanted intrusive thoughts are compounded by becoming entangled in them, thinking over them, battling them, seeking to explain them away. … Let the feelings alone, view them as if they weren’t really important, and inevitably they’ll disappear into the background.

Can anxiety cause intrusive thoughts?

Intrusive feelings are generally correlated with the Obsessive Compulsive Condition. Such kinds of emotions, though, are a common force that underpins a broad variety of psychological conditions and for which most individuals can respond. It’s completely natural though uncomfortable and in most situations, the thoughts only move.

Are intrusive thoughts normal?

Intrusive thoughts are normal. Although performing or trying to do all of this stuff is not usual, it is common to have unwanted thoughts like these. Sometimes such thoughts come to us precisely because we don’t want to act like this; they ‘re just the most inappropriate thing your mind can imagine.

How do you get rid of scary thoughts?

You can get rid of scary thoughts in the following ways:

  1. Rejecting the sensations and thoughts won’t make them go away. 
  2. Panicking could make things worse. 
  3. Resistance instills determination. 
  4. For a moment, distraction will help. 
  5. Improving awareness may seem counterintuitive, but it does make sense. 
  6. Acceptance is challenging but it is necessary. 
  7. Letting others know may lighten the burden.

Why do I have horrible intrusive thoughts?

Anxiety and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) are the two most prominent disorders linked with repetitive thinking. They may also be a symptom of depression, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Bipolar Disorder, or ADHD.

Should you ignore intrusive thoughts?

When intrusive thoughts are base don fear or terror, it ‘s important not to ignore them further. Speak to yourself and tell its good to yourself. Know that there is intrusive thinking, just don’t attempt and stop the feeling. In your body, you may sense the stress, but it will pass.

This blog explained in detail the intrusive thoughts and ways in which intrusive thoughts can be beaten. If you have any questions or queries regarding this blog, let us know through your comments in the comments section. We will be glad to assist you.

Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.

References 

What Are Intrusive Thoughts in OCD & How to Get Rid Of Them? by Courtney E. Ackerman (2020)

Intrusive Thoughts: Why Everyone Has Them and How to Stop Them

Intrusive Thoughts: Understand and learn how to stop intrusive thoughts 

Five Daily Lifestyle Changes to Manage Intrusive Thoughts

Amazon.com 

Unsplash.com 

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