How to get rid of scary thoughts

9 Ways to Cope With Intrusive Thoughts

Becoming aware of your thought patterns is the first step toward breaking the cycle.

Our thoughts are never entirely within our control, and it’s natural for our minds to skew negative from time to time. But for some people, intrusive thoughts can become a daily challenge.

If you experience intrusive thoughts, it’s important to remember that a thought has no power or significance in itself.

Having a violent or disturbing thought doesn’t mean that you’re a “bad” person. In most cases, intrusive thoughts can be managed, and the first step is recognizing them for what they are.

It may not always be possible to stop intrusive thoughts, and that’s not necessarily the goal.

Instead, you might consider focusing on ways to make them less overwhelming and create some distance between you and the thought. The goal is to feel that you’re in control of your thoughts, not the other way around.

Mindfulness meditation

One of the core principles of mindfulness is learning how to calmly observe your thoughts, without judging or becoming emotionally tangled up in them.

This can make it a great way to cope with intrusive thoughts because you’re not denying that the thoughts are present — just changing your relationship with them.

You don’t need any special equipment to start meditating, just a few spare moments, and somewhere quiet to practice, if possible.

There are also lots of meditation apps available, with courses specifically geared toward beginners and people living with intrusive thoughts, that may help you.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

CBT is a type of psychotherapy that can be effective for all kinds of thought disorders.

It can be especially helpful for intrusive thoughts that become obsessive because it helps to create distance between a person and their thoughts.

CBT is based on the idea that our thought patterns can be unlearned or changed. A CBT therapist can work with you to identify your intrusive thoughts, process them, and reframe them so that they aren’t as powerful.

Remember, ‘This too shall pass’

This is a simple but powerful mantra that may help you to regain perspective.

When an intrusive thought occupies your brain, it can sometimes feel like it will never go away. But thoughts are always temporary, and there is no such thing as a permanent state of mind.

Identifying a mantra like “This too shall pass,” or “My thoughts are temporary” could be helpful in reducing their power.

Visualization techniques

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.

Spend time with a pet

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.

A large 2019 study involving animals showed that interacting with them can lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which plays a role in many mental health conditions.

In addition, animal-assisted therapy for trauma is becoming more common.

A small 2018 study with animals, which consisted of 60 female university students in Germany, found that therapy dog intervention can help to reduce stress and anxiety following a traumatic event.

Externalize the thought

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.

Ground yourself in the present

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:

  • deep breathing
  • active meditation
  • body scan meditation

Take a walk in nature

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.

Approach the thought with curiosity

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.

Intrusive thoughts are unwanted, involuntary thoughts that are usually disturbing or distressing in nature. They usually seem to appear out of nowhere and may reoccur again and again, which makes them feel even more powerful. The thoughts are often out of character and may be against the person’s values or beliefs.

In many cases, intrusive thoughts are violent, disturbing, sexually graphic, or reflect beliefs that the person finds abhorrent.

This can make them even more distressing, because the person experiencing those thoughts may judge themselves harshly.

The subject matter of intrusive thoughts can vary, but here are some common themes:

  • harming a loved one
  • harming themselves
  • sexually graphic fantasies
  • driving a car into oncoming traffic
  • catching an illness
  • their loved ones dying

Intrusive thoughts can be a symptom of mental health conditions, such as:

  • anxiety disorders
  • obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

But people without mental health conditions can also experience intrusive thoughts. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), some 6 million Americans are affected by intrusive thoughts.

People with anxiety or another condition may be more likely to fixate on an intrusive thought, and see it as a negative reflection on themselves.

They may also worry more about the implications of the thought, which in turn only gives it more power.

So, while intrusive thoughts can happen to anyone, they may be more severe for people who live with mental health conditions.

Intrusive thoughts can be alarming and distressing for a number of reasons. These thoughts often seem to come out of nowhere and may be completely at odds with your usual beliefs and behaviors.

It’s important to remember that a thought only has as much power as you give it. It’s just a sentence in your mind, and it doesn’t necessarily reflect anything about you or your true character.

There are self-help techniques available to you that can allow you to regain power over your intrusive thoughts, including:

  • meditation
  • visualization exercise
  • reframing
  • spending time in nature or with animals

You may also want to consider speaking with a mental health professional, who can help to identify what’s behind your thoughts.

Unwanted Intrusive Thoughts | Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA

04. 26.2018

Martin Seif, PhD, ABPP

Dr. Martin Seif is a master clinician who has spent the last thirty years developing innovative and highly successful treatment methods for anxiety disorders. He helped found ADAA and has served on its Board of Directors and Clinical Advisory Board.  Dr. Seif has offices in Manhattan, NY and Greenwich, CT. For the last 18 years, he has been Associate Director of the Anxiety and Phobia Treatment Center for White Plains Hospital Center. He also trains therapists and psychiatric residents at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

Sally Winston, PsyD

Dr. Sally Winston is a clinical psychologist and co-director of the Anxiety and Stress Disorders Institute of Maryland. She is nationally recognized for her expertise in the treatment of anxiety disorders. Dr. Winston has been active with ADAA for over 30 years. She has served as chair of the ADAA Clinical Advisory Board and was the first recipient of the ADAA Jerilyn Ross Clinician Advocate Award.

Boost Search Results


April 26, 2018

Unwanted Intrusive Thoughts

Unwanted intrusive thoughts are stuck thoughts that cause great distress. They seem to come from out of nowhere, arrive with a whoosh, and cause a great deal of anxiety. The content of unwanted intrusive thoughts often focuses on sexual or violent or socially unacceptable images. People who experience unwanted intrusive thoughts are afraid that they might commit the acts they picture in their mind. They also fear that the thoughts mean something terrible about them. Some unwanted intrusive thoughts consist of repetitive doubts about relationships, decisions small and large, sexual orientation or identity, intrusions of thoughts about safety, religion, death or worries about questions that cannot be answered with certainty. Some are just weird thoughts that make no apparent sense. Unwanted Intrusive thoughts can be very explicit, and many people are ashamed and worried about them, and therefore keep them secret.

There are many myths about unwanted intrusive thoughts. One of the most distressing is that having such thoughts mean that you unconsciously want to do the things that come into your mind. This is simply not true, and, in fact, the opposite is true. It is the effort people use to fight the thought that makes it stick and fuels its return. People fight thoughts because the content seems alien, unacceptable, and at odds with who they are. So, people with violent unwanted intrusive thoughts are gentle people. People who have unwanted intrusive thoughts about suicide love life. And those who have thoughts of yelling blasphemies in church value their religious life.  A second myth is that every thought we have is worth examining. In truth, these thoughts are not messages, red flags, signals or warnings--despite how they feel.

The problem for people who have these thoughts--and one estimate is that more than 6 million people in the United States are troubled by them-- is that unwanted intrusive thoughts feel so threatening. That is because anxious thinking takes over, and the thought—as abhorrent as it might be—seems to have power it does not.  People tend to try desperately and urgently to get rid of the thoughts, which, paradoxically, fuels their intensity. The harder they try to suppress or distract or substitute thoughts, the stickier the thought becomes.

People who are bothered by intrusive thoughts need to learn a new relationship to their thoughts--that sometimes the content of thoughts are irrelevant and unimportant. That everyone has occasional weird, bizarre, socially improper and violent thoughts. Our brains sometimes create junk thoughts, and these thoughts are just part of the flotsam and jetsam of our stream of consciousness.  Junk thoughts are meaningless. If you don’t pay attention or get involved with them, they dissipate and get washed away in the flow of consciousness.

In reality, a thought—even a very scary thought—is not an impulse. The problem is not one of impulse control- it is over control. They are at opposite ends of the continuum.  However, sufferers get bluffed by their anxiety, and become desperate for reassurance. However, reassurance only works temporarily, and people can become reassurance junkies. The only way to effectively deal with intrusive obsessive thoughts is by reducing one’s sensitivity to them. Not by being reassured that it won’t happen or is not true.

Unwanted intrusive thoughts are reinforced by getting entangled with them, worrying about them, struggling against them, trying to reason them away. They are also made stronger by trying to avoid them. Leave the thoughts alone, treat them as if they are not even interesting, and they will eventually fade into the background.

Here are steps for changing your attitude and overcoming Unwanted Intrusive Thoughts

  • Label these thoughts as "intrusive thoughts."
  • Remind yourself that these thoughts are automatic and not up to you.
  • Accept and allow the thoughts into your mind. Do not try to push them away.
  • Float, and practice allowing time to pass.
  • Remember that less is more. Pause. Give yourself time. There is no urgency. 
  • Expect the thoughts to come back again
  • Continue whatever you were doing prior to the intrusive thought while allowing the anxiety to be present.

Try Not To:

  • Engage with the thoughts in any way.
  • Push the thoughts out of your mind.
  • Try to figure out what your thoughts "mean."
  • Check to see if this is “working” to get rid of the thoughts

This approach can be difficult to apply. But for anyone who keeps applying it for just a few weeks, there is an excellent chance that they will see a decrease in the frequency and intensity of the unwanted intrusive thoughts.

Our book is “Overcoming Unwanted Intrusive Thoughts”. Selected in March 2019 as an Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies Self-Help Book Recommendation - an honor bestowed on outstanding self-help books that are consistent with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) principles and that incorporate scientifically tested strategies for overcoming mental health difficulties.

Get the Spanish version of the book "Guía para superar los pensamientos atemorizantes, obsesivos o inquietantes" here. 

To sign up for a free e-newsletter that answers questions about intrusive thoughts, please visit this webpage:

Additional Resources
  • What are Intrusive Thoughts and How Can You Deal with Them? ADAA Members Debra Kissen, PhD, MHSA and Paul Greene, PhD
  • ADAA invites you to view Dr. Seif and Dr. Winston's corresponding free webinar, Overcoming Intrusive Thoughts.
  • Check out this helpful video by professional graphic designer and animator J. Nordby on how he overcame his struggles with intrusive thoughts. 

Dr. Winston and Dr. Seif In The News: 

  • What a Sticky Mind Means
  • Unwanted Intrusive Thoughts: How to Overcome Sticky, Frightening, Obsessive, or Disturbing Thoughts,, July, 2019

Martin Seif, PhD, ABPP

Dr. Martin Seif is a master clinician who has spent the last thirty years developing innovative and highly successful treatment methods for anxiety disorders. He helped found ADAA and has served on its Board of Directors and Clinical Advisory Board.  Dr. Seif has offices in Manhattan, NY and Greenwich, CT. For the last 18 years, he has been Associate Director of the Anxiety and Phobia Treatment Center for White Plains Hospital Center. He also trains therapists and psychiatric residents at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

Sally Winston, PsyD

Dr. Sally Winston is a clinical psychologist and co-director of the Anxiety and Stress Disorders Institute of Maryland. She is nationally recognized for her expertise in the treatment of anxiety disorders. Dr. Winston has been active with ADAA for over 30 years. She has served as chair of the ADAA Clinical Advisory Board and was the first recipient of the ADAA Jerilyn Ross Clinician Advocate Award.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Anxiety Disorders


Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

ADAA Blog Content and Blog Comments Policy

ADAA Blog Content and Blog Comments Policy

ADAA provides this Website blogs for the benefit of its members and the public. The content, view and opinions published in Blogs written by our personnel or contributors – or from links or posts on the Website from other sources - belong solely to their respective authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of ADAA, its members, management or employees. Any comments or opinions expressed are those of their respective contributors only. Please remember that the open and real-time nature of the comments posted to these venues makes it is impossible for ADAA to confirm the validity of any content posted, and though we reserve the right to review and edit or delete any such comment, we do not guarantee that we will monitor or review it. As such, we are not responsible for any messages posted or the consequences of following any advice offered within such posts. If you find any posts in these posts/comments to be offensive, inaccurate or objectionable, please contact us via email at [email protected] and reference the relevant content. If we determine that removal of a post or posts is necessary, we will make reasonable efforts to do so in a timely manner.

ADAA expressly disclaims responsibility for and liabilities resulting from, any information or communications from and between users of ADAA’s blog post commenting features. Users acknowledge and agree that they may be individually liable for anything they communicate using ADAA’s blogs, including but not limited to defamatory, discriminatory, false or unauthorized information. Users are cautioned that they are responsible for complying with the requirements of applicable copyright and trademark laws and regulations. By submitting a response, comment or content, you agree that such submission is non-confidential for all purposes. Any submission to this Website will be deemed and remain the property of ADAA.

The ADAA blogs are forums for individuals to share their opinions, experiences and thoughts related to mental illness. ADAA wants to ensure the integrity of this service and therefore, use of this service is limited to participants who agree to adhere to the following guidelines:

1. Refrain from transmitting any message, information, data, or text that is unlawful, threatening, abusive, harassing, defamatory, vulgar, obscene, that may be invasive of another 's privacy, hateful, or bashing communications - especially those aimed at gender, race, color, sexual orientation, national origin, religious views or disability.

Please note that there is a review process whereby all comments posted to blog posts and webinars are reviewed by ADAA staff to determine appropriateness before comments are posted. ADAA reserves the right to remove or edit a post containing offensive material as defined by ADAA.

ADAA reserves the right to remove or edit posts that contain explicit, obscene, offensive, or vulgar language. Similarly, posts that contain any graphic files will be removed immediately upon notice.

2. Refrain from posting or transmitting any unsolicited, promotional materials, "junk mail," "spam," "chain mail," "pyramid schemes" or any other form of solicitation. ADAA reserves the right to delete these posts immediately upon notice.

3. ADAA invites and encourages a healthy exchange of opinions. If you disagree with a participant 's post or opinion and wish to challenge it, do so with respect. The real objective of the ADAA blog post commenting function is to promote discussion and understanding, not to convince others that your opinion is "right." Name calling, insults, and personal attacks are not appropriate and will not be tolerated. ADAA will remove these posts immediately upon notice.

4. ADAA promotes privacy and encourages participants to keep personal information such as address and telephone number from being posted. Similarly, do not ask for personal information from other participants. Any comments that ask for telephone, address, e-mail, surveys and research studies will not be approved for posting.

5. Participants should be aware that the opinions, beliefs and statements on blog posts do not necessarily represent the opinions and beliefs of ADAA. Participants also agree that ADAA is not to be held liable for any loss or injury caused, in whole or in part, by sponsorship of blog post commenting. Participants also agree that ADAA reserves the right to report any suspicions of harm to self or others as evidenced by participant posts.


Evidence-based Tips & Strategies from our Member Experts


Block reference


Searching for Sullivan

My struggle with depression and anxiety is one I still deal with every day. The hardest part is…

Read More

Load More

How to deal with bad thoughts: 7 techniques


Know YourselfPractices how to

It turns out that there are a number of methods that will help block the appearance of bad thoughts or deal with them if they have already come. These are the methods offered by the American psychologist Daniel Wegner, who has devoted decades of his life to the problem.

1. Switch

Don't try not to think of a white monkey - think of a black one instead. Better yet, a purple flamingo. Try to switch your mind to some other subject that you also like to think about very much, but which at the same time has positive connotations.

Get yourself a few "continued" thoughts that raise more and more questions and the need for answers to them - and therefore draw you into a completely different stream of thoughts. Is it true that Brad Pitt has silicone muscles? I read about it somewhere. But if so, how does he use them? After all, silicone is not able to contract like real muscles - or is there some way to make it do this?

The more you shake up your emotions, the weaker the brain is before the "alien invasion" of unwanted thoughts

And then there is the conspiracy theory that our Earth is really flat, and only a group of evil scientists have been convincing us for several centuries that it is spherical. Wait, what about satellite images and records from space? And they are falsified by the same scientists. But what about the poles? There is only one pole - the North one, it is in the center of the Earth, which is flat as a disk, and along the edges of the disk there are glaciers that scientists pass off as Antarctica.

And so on - soon the seething stream of this nonsense will take you in a completely new direction.

2. Avoid stress

Some people find that a strong impression will help them cope with intrusive thoughts, such as a scandal with their neighbors or a naked run through a winter city at night. However, studies show that the more you shake up your emotions, the weaker the brain is before the "alien invasion" of uninvited thoughts. On the contrary, try to calm down and rest - the more strength you have and the better your brain is, the more chances you have to repel an attack.

3. Set aside bad thoughts

Agree with an obsessive thought - you will definitely pay attention to it, but only later. Include in your daily schedule "half an hour for painful thoughts" - but not before bedtime, but, for example, at the height of the working day. Thinking about what is bothering you during your lunch break will quickly take your mind off your problems and plunge back into work.

Sooner or later, the subconscious will get used to the fact that obsessive thoughts have their own time with strictly defined limits, and will stop pestering you at other hours. Now you can think about how to exterminate annoying thoughts at this time.

4. Concentrate on the obsession

Once upon a time, a patient came to the great physician Abu Ali ibn Sina, who complained that his eyelid was twitching. Ibn Sina prescribed him an extremely dubious remedy: every hour to begin to blink on purpose with an obstinate eyelid. The patient chuckled, but promised to strictly follow the prescribed.

Meditation is a great way to organize your mind, making your thoughts under control

A few days later he came to thank the doctor. Like the remedy prescribed by Ibn Sina, this method works on the principle of "by the contrary": when an obsessive thought comes to you, try to force yourself to think it over from all sides, turn it this way and that, make yourself afraid that it will slip away from you - and you will soon feel that her grip is weakening and she herself would be glad to escape from you.

5. Recognize the inevitability of a bad thought

Another way, somewhat similar to the previous one, is to replace the fear of the appearance of an indestructible thought with complete indifference to it. Learn to think of it as something external: for example, if it is the thought that a loved one left you, get used to the idea that this thought has nothing to do with him (or her), but exists on its own: here now I will go to bed, and my number one Thought will come to me again.

Accustom yourself to the fact that this thought does not develop and does not tell you anything new - it just comes and goes, as twelve o'clock at night or winter come and go. And very soon you will feel that she is really leaving.

6. Meditate

Meditation is a great way to organize your mind, bringing your thoughts under control. Practice it daily, trying to achieve a state of complete thoughtlessness. It is not easy, but if you learn how to do it, you will be able to induce this state at will, including it at the time of the day when you are most prone to bad thoughts, or in the situation when you become most defenseless against them.

Obsessive thoughts are especially fond of people who have neither a major lifelong goal nor an interesting hobby

If an evil thought does not receive positive reinforcement in the form of your willingness to devote your brain resources to it, it begins to weaken - and soon disappears.

7. Think about your goals

How is a bad thought different from gas? Gas, as we know from a physics textbook, occupies the entire volume provided, and a bad thought is not yet provided . .. It teaches us to concentrate on it, forgetting that there is so much good in the world that it is much more pleasant to think about.

Obsessive thoughts are especially fond of people who have neither a major lifelong goal nor an interesting hobby. Take yourself out of the state of sad thoughts, thinking about the path to success, about what will bring you satisfaction. If you make an effort, you will gradually be able to accustom yourself to positive dreams.

Text: Ilya Nosyrev Photo credit: Getty Images

New on the site

Anniversary syndrome: what is it and why is it so important to know the history of your ancestors0003

The psychology of sales: how to learn how to save money and stop feeling guilty after shopping

Do you buy coffee to go? Scientists told why it is dangerous for health

“I am rude and aggressive towards my relatives. What is wrong with me?"

Top 5 Magnesium-Rich Foods: Why We Need This Mineral So Much

14 Signs of True Friendship: Check Yourself

9 Signs Your Life Is Coming to a Tipping Point

“I Want to Get a Divorce but Can’t Decide”

How to get rid of obsessive thoughts: 6 life hacks


© Baran Lotfollahi/Unsplash

Author Irina Rudevich

October 23, 2020

Sometimes it is difficult to stop the flow of unpleasant thoughts that seem to break into your head and give you no rest. We tell you how to eliminate the anxiety that has arisen and not dwell on this state

What are obsessive thoughts

Excessive experiences and repetitive dialogues arise spontaneously. You can go about your daily activities or get ready for bed, but suddenly a thought appears that draws all attention to itself. For many, it seems to get stuck in place, causing discomfort, disrupting biorhythms and disrupting plans. Obsessive thinking is a series of images that are repeated in combination with negative perceptions. The severity of their influence can range from mild but annoying to severe and all-encompassing. Particularly debilitating cases that prevent a person from living a full life are considered in psychiatry as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

10 brain traps that change reality

Advertising on RBC

Why do we think about unpleasant things

Psychologists do not have a clear answer to the question of where obsessive thoughts come from. According to one theory, repeated anxious thoughts indicate that a person has an unresolved issue and a life stage that has not been completed. It could be stress at work, relationship problems, or an unpleasant conversation with a stranger that happened a few days ago. But they are not always based on real events.

© Cottonbro/Pexels

Everyone at least once left for work with the thought: “Did I turn off the iron?”, which haunted until the evening. “Thinking can be a problem because it rarely offers new ideas or solutions to fix a situation,” writes psychotherapist Jody Virgo [1]. Instead, they emotionally capture the person and reinforce negative feelings.

Against depression: what activities “teach” the brain to be happier and healthier

It's not easy not to think

It would seem that you just need to switch and forbid yourself to play the same record in your head. But our minds are built differently: when a person tries to avoid thinking, being under the influence of obsessive thoughts, the brain continues to remind us of them with greater force. It's the same principle that when you hear "don't think about the pink elephant" the first thing you do is imagine it. At the same time, thoughts without decisions and actions only take time and emotional resources. “They have no practical consequences, and in themselves they are unimportant,” says physician and writer Deepak Chopra [2]. But that doesn't change the fact that people suffer from obsessive thinking. Here are a few principles to help you deal with it:

  • Recognize the thought pattern
  • Put your thought on paper
  • Think about a solution
  • Accept separateness of thoughts
  • Practice meditation and mindful thinking
  • Contact a specialist

Recognize the thought pattern

To overcome obsessive thoughts, you need to identify them. The patterns may vary, but most of them are repeated over and over again. If a person often gets stuck in a cognitive cycle, then they turn into a habit that is more difficult to get rid of. It's like biting your nails or checking your email every few minutes, that is, actions (or thoughts) occur unconsciously. Caught yourself in a compulsive cycle - study it carefully. As Bruce M. Hyman and Cherry Pedrick write in The OCD Workbook, it pays to “examine these thoughts to understand how they arise and how you respond to them” [3].

Inverted thinking: how to lose weight and get rid of debt by thinking bad

Transfer your thought to paper

Once you write down an obsession in a notebook or phone notes, it will no longer cyclically spin your head. But the work is not over yet. It is important to determine the root cause of the negative experience.

© Lisa Fotios/Pexels

For example, you're worried about not getting a response from a friend, or you're worried that you weren't good enough when you gave a talk. Formulate a problem: “I’m upset because I think I offended a loved one in some way” or “I’m afraid that they didn’t take me seriously because I was very nervous during the speech.

Neuroplasticity: how to make the brain work better

Think about a solution

Sometimes obsessive thoughts are justified and require certain actions. If you seriously think that you have not turned off the iron, ask a family member or neighbor to come in and check if everything is in order. When you're worried about relationship problems, it's easier to ask your partner directly if everything is okay, rather than oppressing yourself with destructive thoughts. Sometimes thoughts cling to the past or rush into the future, and you worry about the future. Try to learn from the experience and evaluate what can be done to minimize stress in the coming changes.

Chronic Stress: How to Detect, Manage and Prevent

Accept Separateness of Thoughts

A difficult but important step in dealing with a problem is to recognize that thoughts are not always in your control. This is a series of neurons that fire in the brain as a result of not always obvious reactions, associations and experiences. Attempts to avoid obsessive thinking, to forcibly get rid of it, can only aggravate the situation. Acceptance can be the key to liberation, but not in the sense that you should give up and leave your mind to be torn apart by disturbing ideas. It is necessary to allow these thoughts to exist, to evaluate them, but not to try to control them.

8 ways to develop creative thinking

Practice meditation and mindful thinking

Obsessive thoughts cause discomfort because they are accompanied by negative emotions. Meditation and mindfulness exercises will help you get rid of oppressive experiences while you study the “enemy”. Psychologist Seth Meyers, in an article for Psychology Today, defines conscious thinking as “clearing and focusing on what your mind and body are feeling in the present moment” [4].

© Cottonbro/Pexels

If you have obsessive thoughts, try a few simple breaths, counting slowly to five as you inhale and exhale. You can supplement the practice with physical exercises for "grounding": fix yourself in space, standing on the floor and focusing on the sensation in your legs.

Learn more