Sometimes a thought just gets stuck in our heads. We keep turning and twisting it over and over again till it starts generating sub thoughts, and we have turned the situation over in our minds so much that we can no longer even remember what the original thought was. This can turn even innocuous situations into dark thoughts. This process of continuously thinking over the same things is called obsessive thinking or rumination.
Obsessive thinking is very bad for mental health. In addition to damaging your mental psyche, it can also prolong and intensify depression and impair a person’s ability to think and process their emotions. It can also lead people to feel isolated from their surroundings when in reality, they are the ones who are pushing people away.
Obsessive thinking can be caused due to a lot of reasons. Sometimes you may believe that it’ll help you gain a better understanding of your life and your problems by thinking deeply about it, or if you have a history of physical or psychological trauma, or if you have ongoing uncontrolled stressors in your life. It is also very prevalent in people who strive for perfection or are very neurotic in their daily lives.
It can be tough to stop obsessive thoughts once you’re stuck in the cycle. Instead, it is better to quickly head it off if you feel it is about to start. If you do enter the cycle, then it is best to head it off and stop the cycle as soon as possible to prevent them from becoming too intense. If you are prone to obsessive thinking, here are some tips to help you:
- Distract yourself: Sort out your hobbies and always have a distraction ready; if your source of distraction is something that you deeply like, then it’ll help you break the cycle much faster. You can consider calling your friends or relatives, completing your household chores, watching a movie, drawing a picture, or even exercising.
- Make a plan of action: If you are having repeated bouts of obsessive thinking about the same thing, then you can start making a plan of action to address it. Outline the stressors attached to it, the pros and cons of completing the task and then write your plan so that you have a physical reminder of the plan. Make sure that your expectations are realistic and achievable.
- Take action: Once you’ve made a plan and have a physical copy of it, start taking steps to actually achieve it. If you ever begin obsessing, refer to your plan. Take small steps but always make sure that you are moving towards your goal instead of away from it.
- Question your thoughts and beliefs: Obsessive thinking is often a result of a mistake that you may have committed or if something traumatic occurred in your life that you believe you may be responsible for, even tangentially. Instead of focusing on your mistake, start making plans about how you could correct it or avoid doing it again in the future.
- Readjust your goals: If you are neurotic and strive for perfection in all areas of your life, then it is about time that you reassess and readjust your life’s goals. If your goals are too unrealistic, then you will never achieve them, which will just propel you into another bout of obsessive thinking.
- Work on your self-esteem: Low self-esteem is another big reason behind obsessive thinking; in fact, in addition to adding to it, it can also worsen it and lead to depression. Enhance your self-esteem by focusing on your strengths instead of your weaknesses. You can even try psychotherapy or counselling. As you get better, you will notice your productivity increasing simultaneously.
- Try meditation: Meditation calms down the mind and helps escape the cycle of obsessive thinking by helping you focus on the more positive aspects of your life. If you find yourself obsessing, just sit in a quiet space, breathe deeply and try to focus on just your breathing alone and nothing else.
- Understand your triggers: Every time you start a bout of obsessive thinking, make a mental note of what caused it, recognize the pattern and name them. This can help you make a list of your potential triggers and help either avoid or conquer them in the future.
Obsessive thinking can also be a result of isolation. Talking to your friends, relatives, or even a therapist or counsellor can be a big help. It can also provide you with an outside point of view to help you break your cycle. If nothing else helps, though, then therapy is your best bet. They can be your support system and help you achieve all the lifestyle changes you want. To avoid it, though, you first have to understand what obsessive thinking is, recognize your intrusive and obsessive thoughts. If you do need help, though, you can contact Hopecare India for treatment from the best counsellors in Delhi.
Hope Care established under the guidance of Dr. Deepak Raheja, President at Delhi Psychiatric Society is a psychiatric center of excellence that endeavors to restore hope and well-being to individuals and families afflicted by mental ill-health through comprehensive treatment and rehabilitation services. Hopecare seeks to set benchmarks in innovative programs in treatment, care, and education.