Tips on Managing Intrusive Thoughts
Updated: Apr 7
Intrusive thoughts are unwanted and disturbing thoughts or images that randomly pop up in our minds, and can often cause feelings of anxiety, shame, or guilt. They can be triggered by stressful events, mental health conditions such as OCD, PTSD, anxiety, or depression, or even by everyday situations. However, it's important to remember that having intrusive thoughts is a common experience and doesn't mean that you're a bad person or that you're going to act on them.
Here are some tips on how to manage intrusive thoughts:
- Acknowledge and accept the thoughts: The first step in managing intrusive thoughts is to acknowledge and accept them without judgement or criticism. Don't try to suppress or ignore them, as this can often make them worse.
- Challenge the thoughts: Once you've acknowledged the thoughts, try to challenge them. Ask yourself if they're really true, and if there's evidence to support them. Often, intrusive thoughts are irrational and don't reflect reality. By challenging them, you can help to reduce their power over you.
- Focus on the present: One way to manage intrusive thoughts is to focus on the present moment. Engage in activities that require your full attention, such as exercise, art, or reading. Mindfulness meditation can also be helpful in staying present and reducing anxiety.
- Practice self-care: Taking care of your physical and mental health can help to reduce the frequency and intensity of intrusive thoughts. Make sure you're getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly. Avoid excessive use of drugs and alcohol, which can exacerbate intrusive thoughts.
Getting enough sleep is crucial for your mental health and well-being. Check out my article on The Benefits of Sleep for Your Mental Health and Well-being
If intrusive thoughts are interfering with your daily life, I can offer psychotherapy and coaching online or face to face to support you to identify triggers and develop coping strategies. Remember, managing intrusive thoughts takes time and practice. Don't be too hard on yourself if you don't see immediate results. With patience and persistence, you can learn to manage intrusive thoughts and live a more fulfilling life.