How to Stop Thinking About Something
Don’t you hate it when you try so hard to stop thinking about something, but you just can’t? It’s like when you tell someone not to look at something and they look right after you tell them not to. They know they aren’t supposed to but do it anyway because they can’t help themselves. You tell yourself over and over again that you don’t want to think about whatever it is, but you can’t stop yourself. It’s like no matter what you tell yourself the thoughts won’t go away. It’s even worse when you can’t stop thinking about something scary or something disturbing. So what can you do? How can you stop thinking about something that bothers you? Well here are 5 things you can incorporate into your daily life that can help you stop thinking about something.
- Distract yourself- Sometimes the best way to stop thinking about something is to do something physical to distract yourself. This can include physical exercise, playing an instrument, or dancing. Occupying your thoughts with activities may distract your mind from constantly thinking about something that’s bothering you. The mind, body, and spirit are all connected. Doing something physical with the body that is enjoyable may take your mind away from the thoughts you don’t want to think about.
- Talk about it with someone you trust- Sometimes the thoughts in our head need a release. If you keep the thoughts in your head, you may continue to think about them even though you don’t want to. Talking with someone may also provide perspective as to why you keep thinking about something and the thoughts may go away. It is also helpful to share with someone that you simply have a hard time getting something off your mind, whether or not you tell the details of those thoughts. It alleviates the stress that comes with thinking about something you don’t want to think about.
- Mindfulness exercises- Mindfulness if a form of meditation that intensely focuses on being in the moment. Mindfulness exercises require the absences of judgment or interpretation of the feelings and sensing that are occurring within the moment and encourages engagement with the environment currently around you. Mindfulness exercises have been proven to help reduce stress because of its ability to relax the body and the mind. Mindfulness exercises take lots of practice and more you use them, the easier it is for you to be focused on being in the moment. Being in the moment allows you to channel your thoughts to what is currently going on and ignore the thoughts you don’t want to think about. There are various types of mindfulness exercises, but it is important to discover which type of exercise works best for you!
- Reframe the thoughts- As much as you’ve tried to keep the thoughts out of your head and you can’t stop thinking about them, change the thought. Process the thought. You may discover why you can’t stop thinking about whatever is on your mind. Finding a resolution or the root of the thought my get the thought out of your head. Reminding yourself that you are in control of your thoughts and even if you can’t stop thinking about something, don’t continue to give it power. Try to fill your mind with things you like thinking about or do not let the thoughts disturb your day. Remember they are just thoughts and you are in control.
- Write them down- Just as talking with someone about the thoughts in your head can be a release, writing them down can be as well. Writing down what you can’t stop thinking about in a journal or piece of paper may help to get the thought out of your head. Or throw what you wrote away, especially if they are disturbing or scary thoughts. Chop it up, rip it up, whatever you want to do to signify the destruction of the thought. Sometimes gaining control of the thought by destroying it helps you stop thinking about it.
If you can’t stop thinking about something and the content concerns you or you feel like this is a constant struggle, seek the advice of a mental health professional.
Written by Dr. Grand McDonald, PsyD.