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How to Deal With Intrusive Thoughts

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I’ve been having intrusive thoughts for a long time, and usually they get more intense with stress. They can get so intense that I will get muscle spasms and tense up my upper body in a physical attempt to get rid of them. It makes me look strange. Some people have asked me if I was OK, if I needed help. Someone once said they were afraid of me (not to my face). A girl actually raised her hand in class and interrupted the whole class to ask me if I was OK.

Sometimes these thoughts can make me a little irritable and harsh because of their distressing nature and the humiliation. Here are a few tricks I developed to deal with these thoughts and help myself be less stressed.

Editor’s note: Please see a professional if you are experiencing intrusive thoughts. These are meant as suggestions and cannot substitute professional help.

1. Try to let the thought pass.

This is obviously the hardest but most effective way to get rid of an intrusive thought. It may seem impossible, but let the thought go away on its own, try not to cling to it and “correct” or “fix” it.

2. Stress balls

When an intrusive thought becomes too much, have a stress ball in your purse/bag and squeeze it as hard as you can. The physical force can take away a bit of the psychological stress. You can also buy a fun-looking stress ball, in the shape of Earth, Freud, or with a smiley face on it.

3. Draw

When the thought starts, draw something funny, draw something sad, draw something just as scary as the thought itself. Bring a notebook with you just for these drawings.

4. Look at pictures or memes.

Make a folder in your laptop, phone or iPod filled with cute pictures, pretty pictures, funny pictures, or with your favorite memes. When an intrusive thought gets into your head it can help distract you from it.

5. Write it down.

Keep a journal to write down your scary thoughts, preoccupations, or anything distressing. You can look back on it and try to figure out your fears, or the action of writing can distract from your thought or make it look less serious.Intrusive thoughts are not that abnormal and these tricks can help you lessen the intensity of these thoughts.

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Thinkstock photo by eggeeggjiew

Originally published: November 20, 2016
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