Mind Health Blog

mental health guidance toward a blossoming mind

Word of the Week: Catastrophizing

You know, it’s the feeling you get when one bad thing happens and you work yourself up, remembering every other little thing that is going ‘wrong’ in life. One small  (overcome-36160466_865100193689023_2195216686167097344_nable) issue is now a whole snowball of emotions to no point of return and the world IS ending and your life IS NOT going anywhere and you might as well pack up a box and live under a bridge…

You know, that feeling.

BUT WAIT! Life is not ending and the problem really isn’t that big…it just feels this way.

Catastrophizing (verb): believing that something is far worse than it actually is and magnifying situations into something bigger than they are.

We all know this feeling. How do we overcome it or stop the downward spiral of overthinking? This is a form of cognitive distortion that is difficult to stop once it starts. So lets prevent it!

Here’s how: 

  1. Understand and accept that you are going to experience unpleasant thoughts from time to time – especially with a mental illness.
  2. Set aside a few positive affirmations or mantras that you like and work for you ahead of time so you can refer to them when you need them.
  3. Verbally say “STOP” out loud to yourself. It might take a few repetitions of this simple, yet powerful word. By saying STOP, your brain is interrupted by this and temporarily replaces the unpleasant thought.
  4. Think about a more positive outcome – how you can grow from it or what good could come from the situation.
  5. Realize and accept that the thoughts are, in fact, irrational and far-fetched.
  6. Practice self-care daily and indulge in activities that you enjoy – distraction is powerful!

TIP: A really great way to stop catastrophizing when it might be too late (when you’ve already started the downward spiral) is to journal! Write it out without thinking about what you are writing. DO NOT stop to read it back until you are completely finished. Get all of the thoughts out on paper. It also helps you realize that the thoughts really are irrational and pretty ridiculous.

Hope this helps! Stay tuned next Monday for another Word of the Week, and remember to try to prevent catastrophizing. Prevention is key!

“Worrying is the greatest misuse of the imagination.”

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