When Worry Rules: 5 Ways to Manage Obsessive Thinking

When Worry Rules: 5 Ways to Manage Obsessive Thinking

When you begin to worry, can you feel it taking over, pushing out anything else that requires your attention? Obsessive thinking can be annoying in the least and debilitating at worst. Yet, there are ways that you can gain control over your obsessive thinking to keep it at bay.

Obsessive Thinking Tip #1:  Give it A Funny Name

In the book “Talking Back TO OCD,” the authors talk about giving OCD a funny name.  Although written for youth who have obsessive compulsive disorder and their parents, the concept can be just as helpful to adults. This can help transform obsessive thinking from a monster, or something to fear, into something humorous and funny. This allows you to be less afraid and more able to recognize that you are experiencing obsessive thinking.

Obsessive Thinking Tip #2:  Use Humor

Once you have taken the fear out of your obsessive thinking, you can use humor to further control it. Perhaps smile and laugh at yourself when you experience obsessive thinking.  In the moment, humor can help you realize that although you are having obsessive thoughts, they do not have to define who you are as a person.

Obsessive Thinking Tip #3:  Learn the Art of Distraction

Distracting yourself when you have obsessive thoughts can help to shift your attention away from what is causing those thoughts in order to focus on something else. Some ideas include:

  • Listening to or creating music
  • Taking a walk
  • Playing a game
  • Counting to ten
  • Repeating a comforting phrase
  • Doing a task that requires concentration, such as woodworking

Obsessive Thinking Tip #4:  Exercise

There are, of course, many benefits to exercise. Exercising can help us stay physically fit, but it can contribute to our mental health as well. The National Institutes of Health says that exercise can have a positive impact on synaptic plasticity in the brain and reduces neurodegeneration. Here are ways that you can incorporate exercise and movement into your day:

  • Get up from your desk and walk around periodically.
  • Walk during your lunch hour.
  • Take the stairs instead of an elevator.
  • Park your car on the far end of the lot instead of close to the building.
  • Use a stress ball.
  • Do some calisthenics, such as push-ups or jumping-jacks.
  • At home, play with your kids or pets, participate in a rec league, or just take a walk in your neighborhood.

In addition, your employer may participate in a program that provides a free or discounted gym membership to its employees. Some companies even have workout facilities located on-site.

Obsessive Thinking Tip #5:  Get Creative and Express Yourself

Use your obsessive thinking to your advantage and by harnessing that energy and focusing it into something creative. It can help shift you from being paralyzed by your thinking to controlling it for your advantage. Some ideas include:

  • Painting and sculpture to capture and express your thoughts
  • Writing stories or poems to transform your thoughts
  • Creating music and lyrics about your obsessive thoughts

You wouldn’t be the first artist who found solace from their thoughts in the form of artistic expression. Besides, why not use obsessive thinking to your advantage?

Obsessive thoughts can only dominate your life if you let them. By taking some practical steps, you can take on obsessive thinking and take back control of your thoughts.


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