Fall is a busy time, and with finals just around the corner it couldn’t get any busier. When I was in school I remember having panic attacks that made it difficult to get any work done. I worried about midterms, and then finals, and whether or not I was taking the right classes. I worried constantly about whether I was taking the right steps to succeed in life, and about whether there was any meaning to life at all.
Sometimes when people become very anxious, they get trapped within a thought pattern which involves having the same upsetting thoughts over and over. This makes the person having these thoughts become more and more anxious about them.
Do not fear! There are a couple of easy ways to get out of these unhealthy and unproductive thinking habits.
One way is to give yourself a set time of day where your goal is to have obsessive thoughts. It can be surprisingly hard to think consistently about nothing but these thoughts for half an hour. One would think that since they are thoughts that keep interrupting other thoughts that they would be easy to relish in for a half hour a day, but you may find when you give yourself the time to obsess over things that obsessing is a waste of time.
When you are caught in the midst of obsessive or circular thoughts it can be hard to bring yourself back to productive thinking. Next time this happens try visualizing yourself on a train which is moving through the station. The train never stops but outside the window you can see your obsessive thoughts as words on a subway wall, and you are moving past them. You can envision any space that you want to as long as you are visualizing your thoughts as text that disappears from your view. This can help you to calm down because instead of thinking about the same thoughts over and over in your head you are adding a distracting visual context to them which allows you to calm down.
Obsessive thoughts are no fun, but if you can recognize when you are beginning to have unhealthy thoughts that will hinder your ability to get your school work done, or otherwise function then you can stop those thoughts in their tracks, and feel more in control of your mind.