How To Deal With Obsessive Thoughts: 10 Tips And Ways

how to deal with obsessive thoughts

Learning how to deal with obsessive thoughts can have a huge impact on your thinking. Our minds are amazing things that do incredible things. Unfortunately one of those things is the ability to become fixated at times, even against our will. Over the long term, this can be stressful - Believe me, I’ve had those particular thoughts before.

We all fall somewhere between having that weird thought on a regular basis and symptoms of OCD. But wherever you are, there are things that can help, both short term and in the long run.

In Short

Finding how to deal with obsessive thoughts, common in mental disorders like Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), can often cause much anxiety and great distress, sometimes even panic attacks. The first step to tackling them is acknowledging the issue and seeking professional help. Treatment of OCD involves a review process where professionals will delve into the small details of your thoughts and behaviors. 

What can help?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy, for example, is a good way to reframe negative thoughts and learn coping strategies to manage anxious feelings. Following resources from authoritative bodies like the Depression Association of America could provide helpful insights and advice. You might also discover that your obsessive thoughts are linked to other conditions, such as social phobia or even physical health problems like streptococcal infections.

Reading about other people's experiences with obsessive thoughts, like in blog posts, can provide a good example of successful coping strategies. It's important to remember that everyone is different and what works for one person might not work for you. Therefore, it's key to understand your personality traits and how they influence your thoughts on a daily basis.

Maintaining a daily routine of mindfulness and relaxation techniques can help manage obsessive thoughts. Counterintuitively, trying to suppress these thoughts can have the exact opposite effect, causing them to become more intrusive. So, it's better to acknowledge them and let them pass naturally without judgment. Dealing with obsessive thoughts isn't easy, but with persistence and the right support, you can manage them effectively.


Navigating the maze when working on how to deal with obsessive thoughts can often feel like a daily trial, an exhausting tug-of-war between the person you are and the intrusive, unwanted thoughts that persist. It's a battle, a mental illness, that many individuals face across the world - not just in specific situations or different countries, but universally - affecting the general population. The name of this uninvited guest is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). 

The manifestations of OCD thoughts can be wide and varied, from violent thoughts, and repetitive behaviors, to bizarre ideas that seem to pop up out of nowhere. However, the core of OCD symptoms lies in the realm of unwanted intrusive thoughts that can make a person feel significant distress. But here's the good news: the real problem, while daunting, is not undefeatable. 

What can you do?

Experts, like the revered Dr. Fred Penzel, advocate a holistic approach to managing OCD, offering hope that one's life doesn't have to be ruled by these thoughts. Treatment options are available, ranging from cognitive therapies to medication, that can help manage if not outright banish these examples of intrusive thoughts. And the most important thing to remember? These thoughts are not a reflection of you or your values.

From a panic disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder, to mood disorders, OCD is often an uninvited tag-along with other mental health conditions. Sometimes, it can also be linked to substance abuse. Understanding these related disorders is key to uncovering the underlying problem and working toward a long-term solution. 

This article will serve as a good place to begin your journey toward understanding OCD better. It will shed light on common obsessions, the daily tasks that may trigger these thoughts, and ways to manage the distressing emotions that come along with them. 

If you're suffering from OCD, remember this: you're not alone. Many people, from college students to adults, navigate this journey. And there are a lot of times when the battle seems tough, the anxiety too much, but each step forward, each daily commitment, is a victory. It might require hard work, but gaining control of your thoughts is worth every bit of it. 

So, hold on tight. Let's dive deep into the world of OCD, understanding the disorder, its impact, and most importantly, uncovering ways to reclaim your life from its clutches. It's time to take the wheel and steer towards a life of lesser distress and more peace.

How To Deal With Obsessive Thoughts: 10 Tips And Ways

We all get wrapped up in our thoughts now and then, but what if some thoughts just won't let go? This is a reality for many people living with obsessive thoughts, a hallmark symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and various anxiety disorders. So, grab a cup of coffee and get comfy, because we're about to delve into the labyrinth that is obsessive thinking and, most importantly, a way how (not the only way) to navigate it.

1. Understand theM

Before embarking on this journey, the first step is understanding what we're dealing with. Obsessive thoughts are unwanted and distressing patterns of thinking that seem to invade our minds without invitation. They can revolve around anything, from fears of germ contamination to worrying about hurting family members.

These involuntary thoughts often lead to anxiety and, in some cases, compulsive behaviors aimed at neutralizing such thoughts. The irony? The harder we try to push them away, the stronger they become. It's the "don't think about a pink elephant" phenomenon.

2. Be Present

Often, obsessive thoughts pull us out of the present and catapult us into a hypothetical future or an unchangeable past. Practicing mindfulness techniques, such as deep breathing or mindfulness meditation, can help anchor us in the present moment and reduce the intensity of our obsessive thinking.

3. Get Some Help

Having distressing thoughts constantly buzzing around in your head can be a real mood killer for daily life. That's where professional help comes in. Therapists, especially those trained in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), can help you understand the underlying causes of your thoughts and equip you with coping mechanisms.

4. Try Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioral therapy is like the Swiss Army knife of psychological treatments – versatile and effective. I've learned about it, I've tried it, and it works wonders.

It's especially useful for managing obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety disorders. CBT can help you identify distortions in your own thoughts and challenge them, which can go a long way in mitigating obsessive thinking.

5. Try Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP)

For those of you wondering, "Is facing my obsessive fears really a good idea?" Well, it turns out, it is. ERP, a subset of CBT, involves gradually and repeatedly exposing yourself to thoughts, images, and situations that make you anxious.

Exposure therapy helps you respond to your obsessive thoughts without resorting to compulsive rituals. Hard work? Yes. Worth it? Absolutely!

6. Practice Acceptance

As counterintuitive as it may sound, accepting your obsessive thoughts, rather than battling them, can help lessen their impact. Recognize that these thoughts are part of a mental health disorder, not a reflection of your core values or desires.

7. Stay healthy

Never underestimate the power of a balanced diet, regular exercise, and enough sleep. These might seem unrelated to your mental health, but maintaining a healthy lifestyle can have a profound impact on your overall well-being and your ability to manage obsessive thoughts.

"Healthy body, healthy mind."

8. Connect with people

Isolation can often exacerbate negative emotions. Spending time with family and friends, joining support groups, or connecting with people online can provide much-needed relief and perspective.

9. Give yourself time.

Recovering from obsessive thoughts isn't a sprint; it's a marathon. It requires persistence, patience, and, above all, kindness towards yourself. Recognize that progress might be slow and relapses may happen, but you're doing your best, and that's what truly counts.

10. Consider medication

I say consider because it's only an option - ideally a last option - so don't feel pressured to resort to it. There are plenty of other methods and approaches, more than those covered here. I just want you to be aware so you can make an informed choice.

In some cases, medication can be an important tool in managing obsessive thoughts. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are often the go-to drugs for OCD. Remember to consult with a health care provider to discuss potential side effects and the best treatment for your specific situation.

Recommended Post - How To Be Happy When You Are Sad: Tips To Feel Better

The good news is, obsessive thoughts are manageable. With the right tools, commitment, and perhaps a bit of professional guidance, you can regain control over your thoughts and lead a healthier, happier life.

Something to think about

The next time you find yourself gripped by an obsessive fear of germs after scrolling through social media, remember to take a deep breath, practice mindfulness, and most importantly, give yourself some credit.

Any odd or bizarre thought you have doesn’t define you or make you weird. If you fall off the horse on this journey, that's ok. Dust yourself off and get back on. As I said, it's a marathon. Slow and steady really does win the race - Man, how many more clichés can I squeeze in here?

Be an observer and use that self-awareness to take control. After all, as the saying goes, "Rome wasn't built in a day". And your mental well-being is a lot more complex than Rome.

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