Intrusive thoughts are unpleasant, unwanted thoughts that tend to occur in our minds very frequently and tend to disturb us. These are often associated with some bad experience or memory from the past or some fear that one may possess.
Though such intrusive thoughts are part and parcel of one’s life, when they tend to complement our previously underlying problems, it becomes troublesome. Like sometimes, these unwanted intrusive thoughts are blended with one’s obsessive-compulsive disorder or depression, and that’s when they become uncontrollable and lead to severe mental health conditions.
In routine life, intrusive thought is very common to occur. And all of us cope with it and forget it like a bad dream. But these intrusive thoughts tend to become obsessive thoughts, turn into anxiety disorders, or might hamper daily life activities.
And you would want them to end, but how to stop intrusive thoughts?
How and Why Do Unwanted Intrusive Thoughts Occur?
An intrusive idea is a condition where a person gets an unwanted, unimagined, or vague thought and begins to dwell upon it. It can occur from anywhere and anyhow. It is normal to experience intrusive thoughts, as we all are humans. Sometimes, these thoughts can be self-harming, body image related, or some sexual assault related to relationships.
According to many mental health professionals, such intrusive thoughts usually happen to people who might have post-traumatic stress disorder, might be suffering from anxiety, or some other mental condition.
Some other conditions in which such thoughts are common, like Dementia and Parkinson’s Disease. But even in such a state, one should understand when these intrusive thoughts are becoming deadly and having a prolonged impact on them.
Such disturbing thoughts can result from a bad past, love deprivation, or fear. During old age, such intrusive thoughts happen more frequently, and people often opt for medicines to avoid them, but that’s not the solution. One should see a therapist and rely on mindfulness meditation, yoga, etc.
When Intrusive Thoughts are More than Just Thoughts
Mental health professional states that as soon as these intrusive thoughts become uncontrollable and even a single intrusive thought becomes not just a disturbing thought but a nightmare and keeps recurring in our minds, is when one should see a professional.
Accepting intrusive thoughts and failing to differentiate them from negative thoughts can cause a disturbing condition. If one cannot solve intrusive thoughts-related issues and their daily life is impacted, mental health disorder has peeped in. But one shouldn’t ever feel any hesitation or shame in taking help from outside sources such as a professional therapist.
Every person goes through a rough patch in life, but sometimes our brain tends to build up a lot of negativity which is completely okay. Anyone who feels unable to cope with life and talk about their feelings should immediately see a therapist and identify the underlying problem.
There is another way to detect whether you are doing well or not. It is eating disorders; people who suffer anxiety issues or intrusive thoughts are often seen having abrupt eating habits. They may also undergo insomnia and over-alert behavior.
A person might become violent when experiencing intrusive thoughts. Violent behavior is too common in such a condition. Some other common themes are causing harm to a loved one and driving crazy into fantasies. Another major symptom that the person cannot control intrusive thoughts is eating disorders.
So yes, all these can help you understand better whether your thoughts are bad or worse. Lastly, beware that some thoughts are just in our minds and don’t necessarily reflect, so you need to pay extra attention to detect the issue. Here we will talk about some already existing mental issues that further become vexing.
The following are the most deadly associations:
Obsessive-compulsive disorder in itself is a mental illness that has two components in it, obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are baseless, unwanted intrusive thoughts that keep going in our minds. And compulsions are the repetitive behaviors or activities one does to escape obsessions.
Now, if this Obsessive-compulsive disorder is associated with more uncontrollable intrusive thoughts, it leads to great distress.
Anxiety and Depression Association
In this workaholic era, the mental health condition of most people is already at stake. As we all know, anxiety is a condition of junk thoughts causing unnecessary nervousness and distress. More than 30% of people already suffer from anxiety and vague thought patterns. Depression is another leading mental disorder experienced by a lot of people.
Also, mental health professionals can save them if they habitually hold on to these intrusive thoughts for a while.
This depression and anxiety, combined with intrusive thoughts, is the most deadly combination. It’s okay to experience intrusive thoughts and anxiety occasionally, but living with any of these mental illnesses can be devastating.
Ways to Deal with Intrusive Thoughts
Intrusive thoughts are like spiral loops that don’t have any ends; if not controlled or managed, they keep going and going and make you feel worse. These unwanted intrusive thoughts impact your productivity and do not let you live in the present moment.
A serious mental health condition like this can be caused due to various reasons, some underlying fears, traumatic events that happened in the past, etc. But today’s reality is that one has to deal with it, and what’s gone is gone.
Instead of focusing on a particularly traumatic event, or anxiety that has already been caused, one should focus on the root cause, understand their fears and try to solve the underlying condition. Here is a step-by-step guide to stop intrusive thoughts and help you improve.
1. Recognizing Intrusive Thoughts
The first and foremost step is to identify and recognize unwanted thoughts. Accept the fact that, yes, these thoughts are hampering my productivity and causing you to worry unnecessarily. Then decide on a treatment plan for yourself and promise not to entertain a single unwelcome thought.
2. Start Dealing with it on Your Own
Now comes the second part, the call to action; once you know what an intrusive thought is, take action. Observe yourself and keep asking questions whenever you are about to start something, into something, and the activity is over.
You must keep a constant check on your thoughts and feelings. No matter what is happening to you, pay attention. When you wake up, start working, are exercising, or having leisure time, ask yourself these three questions:
- How do I feel?
- Do I enjoy this?
- Am I constantly thinking about something? If Yes, what is it?
Once you answer these, note down the results and analyze them at the end of the day. If you think you are doing good, then no need to pay heed to any negative or intrusive thoughts.
Let them do their job, and you do yours, indulge in more hobbies, spend time with nature, and have more fun. But if you feel and notice some unusual or repetitive behaviors and some disturbing thought stays with you for too long. Then it would be best if you talked to somebody.
Here are some solutions to intrusive thoughts that are not too deadly, and you can overcome them at your own home in your free time. You can manage intrusive thoughts by getting indulge in various activities like:
- Spending more time with family
- pursuing different hobbies
- practicing mindfulness meditation
- deep breathing techniques
- working on your fears
- Talk more, Express yourself
- Read more self-help books, blog posts, etc.
Do whatever you make happy, help you grow, and help you stay away from any intrusive thoughts. Painting, cycling, and spending more time with your loved ones can be anything.
Mental health professionals say to build habits like writing a journal every day, being grateful before sleeping, and watching sunsets and sunrise can make you feel much better. Keep your home and rooms clean and soothing.
Do check out the attached links for doing what you love more precisely.
A good environment can surely make you feel better. Placing more plants in your house, using fresh scented candles, and staying hydrated can be of great use.
3. Seeking Mental Health Professional Help
Now, if you have tried everything and are still unable to pave a way outside these thoughts or are already suffering from any other mental illness, it’s better to ask for help. Even today, people feel ashamed to visit a therapist and come out of such conditions.
We all are different and have different coping mechanisms, so it’s perfectly fine if you are unable to answer this question How to stop intrusive thoughts? For yourself. Go out and reach out to the relevant people. This will surely help you.
You might need cognitive behavioral therapy or other therapy that can only be given by a professional. Sometimes, patients suffering from intrusive thoughts when moving out to seek help might meet some great people who help them not only avoid these disturbing thoughts but guide them through this tough time.
It is normal to question your mindset after experiencing a bundle of intrusive thoughts, as they can make you guilty and trigger your insecurities. Despite all this, one should never question their worth and trust a person’s values as they will assist you in doing what’s right.
Workaholic culture is growing daily, and people often ignore their mental needs in all the hustle. In this busy world of the rat race, it’s okay to feel lonely, left out, and anxious, but don’t let these thoughts take over you. It’s okay to have both good and bad feelings. Worry less, have a balanced diet, keep yourself busy, rest, and allow the brain to rest.
Practise yoga, exercise daily and manage your stress levels. If at any point you notice even a single symptom of deteriorating mental health, stop and take care of your stress. Accept the fact you need a break and pause everything. Spend more time with nature and experience the magic.
Slowing down is just one way to live in the moment. But learning from anyone who has already gone through such a condition can be of immense help. For example, if anyone who has already gone through cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) comes out in support of those suffering from intrusive thoughts and helps them deal with obsessive thoughts, make them understand the importance of self-care habits.
These days, many communities and initiatives are being taken for all this, and any one of us is just a call away. If we all join hands and pledge to help as many people as possible to come out of such disturbing thoughts, this world will surely be a better place.