Are you an overthinker? Do you always think of the worst-case scenario? Do you have a fear of the unknown? These are all signs of catastrophic thinking. This can impact your whole life and affect your mental health. This is when a person starts thinking of the worst possible outcome and is not able to stop overthinking.
Do you live by this saying, “Hope for the best, but expect the worst? If you are catastrophizing, dont worry. It’s not something that cannot be treated. In this article, we are going to discuss various proven ways that can help to stop catastrophic thinking.
Healthcare professionals call catastrophic thinking “ magnifying” because a person is unnecessarily magnifying things in his mind and thinking of the worst-case scenario. After a point, it becomes a loop, and people cannot escape it. However, it is never too late to work on yourself. So if you want to know how you can stop catastrophizing, then keep reading!
What causes catastrophic thinking?
Before getting into the solution, you must know the root cause of what causes Catastrophic thinking. Our brain is one of the most complex things, and there are many different causes that can trigger catastrophic thinking.
In some cases, people use catastrophic thinking as a coping mechanism to prevent themselves from getting disappointed. According to a research paper, here are a few potential causes of Catastrophic thinking.
One of the major causes of catastrophic thinking is anxiety. People who are suffering from anxiety issues or anxiety disorder are more like to be catastrophizing. However, in a study, it was found that people who were dealing with depression or anxiety disorder had more chances of catastrophic thinking.
People who are struggling with depression or going through a rough patch in their life are more likely to have catastrophic thinking. There was a study conducted among young kids, and it shows that catastrophizing is linked with depression. Whereas in adults, catastrophizing is linked with depression and anxiety both.
Moreover, it is also said that if someone has been through a traumatic phase, they are more likely to think negatively. This is why when someone is depressed, they are more likely to catastrophize. This thinking can also be a consequence of the negative event or the trauma the person has been through.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
If you are suffering from OCD, you are much more likely to have catastrophic thinking. Such people have a tendency to think about future events and worry if something goes wrong. They can be obsessed with their own thinking, and they often get trapped in this loop of overthinking.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
If you have been through any trauma or stressful event, then you are much more likely to have catastrophic thinking. Once something traumatic happens to someone, then people have a tendency to keep thinking about the negative outcome in every situation. Trauma can affect a person in so many ways, and catastrophizing is a consequence of this.
You might not be familiar with this term, but you will relate to this. As Pain catastrophizing is when a person obsesses or keeps worrying about his pain. In such a situation, a person feels stuck and helpless.
No matter how much they try, they will not be able to forget the pain and move on from the pain. This can also impact your physical health as well. Such a person is just unable to keep his pain aside, and their whole world revolves around their issue.
Moreover, they have a tendency to perceive their pain much more severely than it actually is. The worst part is that they have no control over this feeling. Thus, they have to deal with all the consequences of this, including catastrophic thinking.
Symptoms of Catastrophic Thinking
There can be many various symptoms of catastrophic thinking. You need to understand that catastrophic thinking involves three major components and feelings which are:
- Magnification of Pain
- Feeling of helplessness.
Rumination means that a person is constantly thinking about their pain and the negative consequences that may arise from it. Magnification refers to the tendency to perceive the pain as more intense or severe than it actually is. Helplessness is the feeling that a person has no control over their pain or its consequences.
All these are the major components of catastrophizing. However, different people experience different symptoms, which can be:
Increased feeling of Anxiety: Catastrophic thinking can increase anxiety as people find themself in the loop of negative thoughts. So, if you are experiencing anxiety, stress, and overthinking, then this can be a potential symptom of catastrophizing.
Catastrophizing thoughts: These are thoughts that are focused on the worst possible outcome and may be unrealistic or irrational. Catastrophizers may engage in “what if” thinking, imagining worst-case scenarios that are unlikely to occur.
Anticipating negative outcomes: Catastrophizers often expect the worst possible outcomes from their pain, such as becoming disabled or losing their job, and may be unable to see positive possibilities.
Exaggerating the severity of pain: Catastrophizers tend to believe that their pain is worse than it actually is and may exaggerate the pain’s intensity, frequency, or duration.
Focusing on pain: Catastrophizers tend to dwell on their pain and may have difficulty thinking about anything else. They may feel that their pain is taking over their life.
If you are experiencing any symptoms from above, then you are catastrophizing. But you are not alone in this. There are many people out there who are experiencing this, including me.
How to stop Catastrophizing?
Now that you know the causes and the symptoms of catastrophizing. Now let’s move on to the ways to deal with this and how you can stop Catastrophic thinking. First of all, you need to understand that these issues take time, and they do not just disappear overnight.
With that being said, there are many ways through which you can deal with catastrophic thinking. I am also going to share some of my personal experiences that help me overcome catastrophizing. So, here are some proven ways to stop catastrophic thinking.
Mindfulness can help to interrupt the loop of negative thoughts and focus on the positive side of things. Thai will help you be present at the moment. So, if you often find yourself lost in your thoughts, then you must start practicing mindfulness. This will give you long-term benefits and help you overcome catastrophic thinking.
I have personally observed the changes and how mindfulness has brought calm to my life. This helps me to allow me to process my thoughts without any judgment or magnification. So, if you also want to strike a balance in your mind, then you must start mindfulness. There are many guides and applications as well that can help you in this journey.
Focus on the positive aspect
Positivity is the key to happiness, and if you want to stop catastrophic thinking. You must see the silver lining. I know it’s difficult to see the positive side of things when your mind is overthinking. You can also try to indulge yourself in things that give you happiness. Focus on the things that give you pleasure and help you distract from negative thoughts.
However, you need to shift your focus and pay attention to the things that make you happy. You can also surround yourself with people whose company you enjoy, So make sure you look at the bright side of things. This is a great way to distract yourself from catastrophizing.
Identify your challenges
The first step for overcoming your challenges is to identify your challenges. However, if there is any particular issue about which you can’t stop thinking and worrying. So, in this case, you must face the challenge once and for all. You need to face your fears if you want to overcome them.
However, if you are overthinking and negative thoughts are constantly coming into your mind. In this case, you need to think rationally and ask yourself if your pain really that big of an issue or it is all just in your head. This way, you can also analyze yourself and think practically.
Try relaxing techniques
Relaxing techniques can help in calming your natural “fight or flight” instinct. Because when you are feeling stressed or anxious, this “fight or flight” instinct gets triggered. This is a natural response that helps us in any dangerous situation. Catastrophic thinking is also linked with this natural response. Hence you can calm yourself down by indulging in relaxation techniques.
However, you can practice meditation and mindfulness; this will help you in stopping catastrophizing. This will allow you to be in the present moment and stop magnifying your problems.
Deep breathing is a powerful technique that can help in stopping catastrophic thinking. This way, you can also stay calm and reduce anxiety. Deep breathing will also break the cycle of negative thoughts. It will send the signal to your brain to calm down and also relax your body.
Deep breathing can activate your nervous system and help in reducing anxiety. This is such a powerful tool, and I have myself felt the positive impact of deep breathing. Moreover, deep breathing also helps to slow down thoughts and can redirect your mind. This is a great way to distract yourself from negative thoughts and stop catastrophic thinking.
Meditation is a tried and tested way to release stress and anxiety. If you are a beginner, you can just sit in a quiet place, close your eyes and focus on your breath. There are also many guides and applications that can help you to meditate and calm yourself.
Moreover, meditation will help you, in the long run, to deal with stress and anxiety. Especially when you have a hectic schedule, meditation can really be a powerful tool in dealing with everyday stress and anxiety. There are many meditation apps available that will guide you through this journey. This can be a great way to tackle catastrophic stress and thinking.
If you are feeling trapped in your mind, just step out and do some physical activity. This will really refresh your mind and can potentially distract you from all the negative thoughts. It is proven that physical activity and exercise help in reducing stress and depression.
Set a goal for yourself and focus on achieving that goal. This will give you the motivation to move ahead of your pain and stop magnifying the problem. Build a routine and habit to make exercise a part of your daily life. This is a very important and powerful tool that will help you stop catastrophic thinking.
If you are looking for a way to cope with overthinking and catastrophizing. You must try journaling and writing down your thoughts. This will give you clarity and help you seek your thoughts. It is a great way to get rid of all the negative thoughts and start thinking on a positive note. Just by writing down your thoughts, you can have a clear visualization of what’s going on in your mind.
Seek Professional help
Never hesitate to ask for help, especially if you are suffering mentally. So, if you are not able to handle stress and anxiety, then you should definitely opt for professional help. Talking to someone else can about catastrophizing gives you a better perspective. Moreover, there is no harm in asking for help.
The Bottom Line
In today’s world, everyone is struggling and fighting a battle. You are not alone in this, and it’s never too late to ask for help. These solutions will help you to understand yourself better and stop catastrophic thinking. However, if you are still not able to tackle the situation, then you can go for therapy. So, if you or your loved one is suffering, dont be afraid to ask for help.