How to Stop Thinking – The New York Times

How to Stop Thinking – The New York Times

To draw attention. One of the most effective things you can do when your thoughts are out of control is to distract yourself, Dr. Siegle said. IN One study published in 2011, for example, researchers found that when socially anxious students refocused their attention using word-rearrangement exercises shortly after a three-minute speech, they felt more positive about how their presentation went than those who performed a guided negative rumination session. IN another study since 2008, 60 college students were asked to recall events in their lives when they felt lonely, sad, rejected, or hurt. They were then told to spend eight minutes either thinking, focusing on the calls to awareness, or distracting themselves with random thoughts and observations. Rumination prolonged negative moods, while distraction moderated them. Attention did not help or worsen their mood.

“Listening to music and focusing intently on the words or melody” can also help take your mind off your mind — at least temporarily, Dr. Marks said. Other distraction tactics, such as talking to a friend, playing games, or exercising, can also help.

Avoid your triggers. If watching a Hallmark movie brings up overwhelming memories of losing a family member, or if scrolling through social media leads to an unhealthy fixation on your appearance, avoiding those triggers can help interrupt those thoughts, said Jodie Louise Russell, a doctoral student studying philosophy. rumination in depression and anxiety at the University of Edinburgh. Use the “mute”, “block”, “unfollow” or “not interested” functions on social media, or avoid the Internet or certain types of media altogether if you feel they are doing more harm than good.

Set a care timer. When they ruminate, it’s possible to get stuck in a negative feedback loop where you feel bad about the ruminator, which in itself can lead to even more rumination and deepened feelings of distress. Taking 10 to 30 minutes of dedicated “worry or think time” every once in a while can help relieve that pressure. Even the simple act of giving yourself permission to think can help you feel more relaxed, Dr. Siegle said.

Adding activities like journaling can also be cathartic and help you clarify and calm your emotions, Dr. Marks said.

Immerse yourself in the moment. Sometimes people think about things that have happened in the past or will happen in the future, for which there are no immediate solutions. To break out of that unproductive thought pattern, Dr. Marks said, take a moment to notice everything going on around you, like, “What do you see in front of you? What is the temperature in the room? Is there anything you can smell in the air? Take whatever experience you have and immerse yourself completely.”

While the above strategies may be helpful for some people, survivors who also have certain mental illnesses (such as severe OCD) will need a more structured intervention, some experts say. If your thinking goes into a near-constant state, it would be unrealistic for you to try to be distracted or aware all the time, Dr. Greenberg said—like constantly trying to swat a fly or keep a balloon under water.


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