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The Surprising Therapist-Approved Technique That Can Squash Intrusive Thoughts

To mitigate intrusive thoughts that seemingly pop up out of nowhere, Duffy recommends scheduling in time do to just that: worry. Yep, she recommends you actually pencil in time to work through all of these thoughts lurking in the back of your mind and waiting for a moment in the spotlight.

“It often happens when I’m going to bed,” says Duffy. “I have a pad of [paper] next to my bed now, and I’ll just write down what I’m thinking about. And I’ll say, ‘I’m going to come back and think about this the next morning.'” See, your brain naturally sends you mental pings when tasks are left unfinished, so rather than trying to ignore those feelings, writing them down can help you feel more at ease–even if you don’t necessarily have any answers. And more often than not, Duffy’s nighttime worries don’t feel nearly as intense the next day.

Clinical psychologist Chloe Carmichael, Ph.D., even recommends creating an actual calendar event for your worry time. “For some people, it recurs every day for 10 minutes, for some people it’s an hour, once a week, whatever [works] best,” she explains on another episode of the mindbodygreen podcast. “And then when those feelings pop up, you just deposit them into the event details, and you give them their undivided attention when the time arrives.”

If you find intrusive thoughts popping up more than once or twice a day, the latter technique may be helpful in order to keep all of them in one place. This way, you can come back to them in one sitting and release any further worry of forgetting to think through a certain topic. What’s more, you’ll be able to focus on your daily tasks and conversations knowing that you’ll have time to address nervous thoughts later on.

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