What Does It Mean To Have Obsessive Thoughts? (And How To Stop Them)

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Obsessive thinking is a mental game that some of us partake in, but prefer to lose. When we go down the rabbit hole of overanalyzing what we said, what we did, or what a situation entailed, it can feel like a continuous loop of notifications popping up in our minds. And as hard as we try to silence them, they reappear without our consent, which can then affect our mood — and possibly, our way of life.Whether you’re experiencing this all-too-familiar situation or you know someone who is, it’s important to identify what and how these thought patterns can impact you and those around you. Below, we got to the bottom of what causes obsessive thoughts and how to overcome themWhat causes obsessive thoughtsObsessive thoughts, or rumination, usually appear in your mind when an unpleasant situation has occurred. According to the American Psychological Association, men and women tend to ruminate when they have a history of trauma, believe that it will provide insight into their situation, perceive that their situation is uncontrollable and stressful; and/or if they have personality characteristics that exemplify perfectionism, neuroticism, and excessive relational focus (aka overvaluing relationships to the point where you choose to sacrifice yourself to maintain them).

Essentially what this means is that your thoughts could be disrupting your life more than you realize. If you find yourself taking an hour or two to respond to a professional email because you want it to be perfect or deeply analyzing a conversation you had with a friend you just met, it could mean that you’re trying to control a situation to avoid or fix a possible negative outcome.

How to stop obsessive thoughts

Recognize and identify the pattern

Getting stuck inside a ruminating thought pattern can quickly feel debilitating when not addressed or stopped right away. If you’re not careful, you can easily spiral into an uncomfortable, negative cycle that can make you obsessive. The next time you become aware that you’re going down this route, try to take a break from thinking about the situation, take a deep breath, and identify why these thoughts are appearing.

According to text- or video-based therapy app Talkspace, Bruce M. Hyman and Cherry Pedrick wrote in The OCD Workbook that when you write down your thoughts, you should “examine these thoughts to understand how they’re triggered and how you’re currently responding to them.” Ideally, when you’re writing about what you’re feeling, you want to get to the root of the issue to identify the main cause of these negative thoughts. For instance, you want to ask yourself questions like “Why am I feeling anxious?” or “Is there another reason why I am experiencing these anxious emotions?” Sometimes we forget to actually take the time to talk to ourselves instead of just experiencing the emotions we feel. Asking these questions will help you have a better understanding as to why these type of thoughts are appearing in your mind in the first place.

Distract yourself

When you’re unable to stop worrying about a specific situation, the next best thing you can probably do is to distract yourself. Call a friend or family member who will help you think of something else, watch a movie, go for a walk, take an exercise class, or clean your home. Physically doing something else can help break the thought cycle and remind you that you have more control over your thoughts than you think.

Be kind to yourself

While we all wish that we could have obsessive thoughts about how amazing we are, we most likely experience the opposite. Our brains create scary scenarios in our minds because they want to protect us and keep us safe from doing risky and uncomfortable things. This is why applying for a new job or simply making a new friend can feel like the end of the world. Whatever situation you’re experiencing, remember to be kind to yourself and your thoughts. At the end of the day, your thoughts are just thoughts, and they’re not always accurate.

A great way to combat this is by talking to your thoughts like you would to your worried, overprotective parents. Begin by thanking them for trying to keep you safe and for caring so much about you, but let them know that they don’t have to worry about the situation anymore because you have everything under control.

Find stillness

It can feel nearly impossible to overcome obsessive thinking when everything around you feels chaotic. While you may not have the ability to control everything in your life, you can control how you feel and think. “Many people don’t take a step back in their own lives to sit and be still,” says mindfulness expert and author of Mindfulness for PMS, Hangovers, and Other Real-World Situations, Courtney Sunday to Well+Good. “If we use specific instances to focus our minds, like picking up our dog’s poop, we have the capacity to be more centered.”

While you don’t need a dog to find stillness, there are other ways to connect with your environment and mind, like meditating or being mindful. These two practices allow you to focus on your breath and observe your physical surroundings. For instance, when things become too overwhelming, try to physically touch and identify things that are around you by saying phrases like, “I’m sitting in a chair, the fan is blue, I smell coffee, the pillow is soft.” This exercise can bring you into the present and help you forget worrying about the past or the future.

Talk to a therapist

If you feel like your obsessive thoughts have gotten out of control and you have the ability to go to therapy, do it. While you can manage your obsessive behavior with the above exercises, sometimes the best thing you can do for your mental health is to seek professional help.

If you’re unsure of what kind of therapy to try, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is usually a go-to for anxious individuals who experience obsessive, worrisome thoughts. CBT is an evidence-based, action-focused form of therapy that can help change the person’s beliefs and thought patterns through acceptance, redirecting, and challenging dysfunctional behaviors. However, if you don’t have access to a cognitive behavioral therapist, there are plenty of other forms of therapy to help you with your mental health journey.

This article originally appeared on The Everygirl.

Beer Yoga Lets You Tap Your Inner Power (And Favorite Brew)

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By Brian Bull

If you’re a beer aficionado who likes developing strength, flexibility, and a sense of well-being, you’ll want to roll out a mat at the annual KLCC Brewfest this weekend.  KLCC’s Brian Bull reports on the trend of “beer yoga.”

Benjamin Wilkinson, principal partner and lead instructor of Stop, Drop & Yoga LLC, atop KLCC’s RV, “Elsie”.

The event is being coordinated by Stop, Drop, and Yoga, which already holds beer-yoga classes at the Public House in Springfield. Its lead instructor, Benjamin Wilkinson, says the concept is simple.

Wilkinson leads a beer yoga session at the Public House in Springfield.

“It’s yoga plus beer,” he says, chuckling.  “And traditionally we do the yoga first, then we drink the beer afterwards.

“However, the idea is to combine some of your favorite things. Adding yoga to a beer festival is just one more way to enjoy that festival.”

Wilkinson says there’s two beer-yoga sessions Saturday afternoon, and all are welcome regardless of experience.

“Come for the ‘ohm’, stay for the ale.  But if you’re a lager fan, we don’t discriminate.”


As to what Wilkinson likes to drink after yoga?

“I’m a big fan of open fermented sours,” he tells KLCC.

“There’s nothing like a little mindfulness to put you in the place to drink and enjoy a complex and interesting beer.”

The sessions are free to all Brewfest participants.

Copyright 2019, KLCC.

10 Amazing Things That Happen When You Do Yoga Every Day

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By Samantha LeFave

The yoga industry has seen its fair share of fads—goat yoga, boozy yoga, and naked yoga, just to name a few—but there’s one thing that remains a constant: People always roll out their mats. That’s because it’s an excellent way to get sweaty and centered, whether you’re a total newbie or longtime pro. Plus, there are some seriously awesome health benefits of yoga that you can score from a daily practice. Here are just a few of the most impressive ones that are worth a pat on the back (because, yep, now you can reach that far):

1. You have better flexibility and mobility.

This one may be obvious, but it’s worth mentioning because, hey, you may not have been able to touch your toes or connect your hands behind your back before practicing yoga. But being able to do that isn’t the only benefit to getting bendy.

Because yoga has a ton of postures that are performed to improve flexibility and build muscular strength, it also retrains our deep connective tissue, says Emilie Perz, a yoga movement therapist and teacher in Los Angeles. “Stress and anxiety can leave our tissues tired, tight, and stuck,” she explains. “[But] yoga focuses on whole body movement and awareness, so we can often use the poses to release and lengthen these chronically tight regions.”

Not only does this mean more flexibility on the outside, but you can also retrain how your body’s tissues hold together, Perz adds. The way to do that is with a consistent practice. “From more mobility to better posture, the poses themselves are a potent tonic that wakes our bodies up and moves them more freely through space,” she says.

2. You might lose weight.

If you’ve always thought that high-intensity yoga classes were the only way to lose weight, it’s time to retrain your brain. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with those styles—and research showsAshtangaBikram, and Iyengar varieties can be particularly effective thanks to their aerobic tendencies—a study from the American Journal of Managed Care found that a restorative practice can also be effective in lowering that number on the scale.

In the study, researchers divided a group of overweight women into two groups—those who took regular restorative yoga classes, and those who participated in stretching sessions, both of which lasted for 48 weeks. Those in the yoga group didn’t bust out any hard-core postures or speedy flows; researchers said the classes focused instead on relaxation and stress reduction. Poses were held for long periods of time, measured breathing was emphasized, and meditative music was played.

With all that in mind, you’d think weight loss wouldn’t really be the end goal. But this group lost significantly more subcutaneous fat (the kind that sits directly under the skin) than the stretching group did in the first six months and kept it off longer. So, this just goes to show that it’s not always about going hard-core all the time.

3. You could get better at other workouts, too.

Listen, no human being is interested in one thing and one thing only. So it’s OK to love yoga but also love bootcamp. Or running. Or touch football. Whatever your passion is, Perz says, it’s likely that a regular yoga practice can help you perform better. “Repeating postures gives [deep connective tissue] more buoyancy and adaptability, which allows our muscles to fire more effectively,” she explains. “This means practicing yoga daily may also help improve our performance in other exercise modalities.”

Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you have to start doubling up your workouts all the time. On days you have another routine on the schedule, a quick 10-minute flow in the morning could be just what you need to get your body (and mind) in prime condition, Perz says.

4. You could reduce chronic pain.

Chronic, always-present pain isn’t something to mess around with. It can be seriously debilitating to your quality of life, and research shows it may even lead to depression. But multiple studies have found yoga to be an extremely effective treatment, especially for those suffering from chronic lower back pain, one of the most common forms, reports the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH).

One such study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found that those who had chronic lower-back pain self-reported better function and less pain after three months of weekly classes. They were also significantly more likely to quit pain relievers after a year. And with today’s opioid epidemic, that’s a great reason to give it a try.

5. You could boost your mental health.

All exercise is linked to lowering symptoms of depression, and yoga is no exception: A review of studies published in Frontiers in Psychiatry suggested that those with depression, schizophrenia, sleep problems, and other mental health conditions could all benefit from practicing yoga. Plus, Perz says that many people live for the mental benefits they experience. “When asked why we practice, both teachers and students alike tend to mention things like yoga being grounding, yoga [being] a tool to help them be ‘in their body,’ and yoga [being] the magic mood lifter,” she says.

Yoga can also have an immediate mood-boosting effect. “There are so many postures in yoga that help with depression and mood,” Robin Berzin, M.D., functional medicine physician and founder of Parsley Healthtold mbg. Some of her favorites for this purpose: camel pose, pigeon pose, and legs up the wall, which help you quite literally open your heart and find new perspective.

“Even when the fog of depression seems impossibly thick,” says Berzin, “connecting with the body is an awesome way to find presence, and presence is like a headlight that lets you see a way forward and out.”

Related Class

6. You may become more creative.

If you’re struggling to pull together that work presentation or hit a roadblock on your great American novel, it may be time to roll out your mat. “Research suggests that by practicing the mindfulness components of yoga regularly—including meditation, mantra, and deep breathing techniques—you can stimulate and increase your alpha brain waves, or the happy calm brain waves,” Perz says. “Through repetition of these mind-body techniques, you can alter the brain’s architecture that taps into your place of connection and creativity.”

7. You may have a more positive outlook.

You know it’s true: The way you think and act on the regular greatly affects your mood and how you feel about yourself. So it’s important to put yourself in a safe space where you don’t feel judged and can be in tune with your thoughts. Yoga is the place for that. “By setting intentions at the beginning of class and focusing on the present moment, you become more aware of negative thought patterns as they arise,” Perz says. “By understanding them and replacing them with a new activity, such as controlled breathing and mindful movement, you can reduce the psychological stress that onsets negative thoughts…and drastically improve your overall attitude and outlook.”

8. You could lower your risk of heart disease.

Heart health is more important than ever, with recent research from the American Heart Association showing that heart attacks, high blood pressure, and diabetes are increasingly more common in younger people—especially women. But it turns out yoga may help lower your risk. A review of studies published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology found that practicing yoga could help just as much as conventional exercise, like brisk walking. In fact, the studies analyzed various types of yoga—both athletic and more gentle flows—as well as a wide range of people with various health conditions. Overall, they saw that those who practiced lowered their blood pressure by five points and decreased their levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol by 12 points. What this suggests: It’s likely less about thetype of yoga you’re into and more about being consistent with your movement.

9. You could ease asthma symptoms.

You don’t want to ditch your conventional care for treating asthma, but research shows that yoga could be a great complementary treatment to help ease symptoms. A small study, published in BMC Pulmonary Medicine, looked at 57 adults with mild to moderate asthma and found that those who added a yoga routine to their schedule for eight weeks dramatically lessened their symptoms and needed to use medication less often. This may be thanks to the breathing practices that are associated with yoga—often called pranayama.

10. You could stress less and sleep better.

Ah, sleep. It’s the thing we’re always told to get more of, no matter how elusive that concept seems. If you’re struggling to snag more shut-eye, yoga could help. In fact, according to a recent national survey from the NCCIH, over 55 percent of yogis report improved sleep, and more than 85 percent said they were less stressed. Marlynn Wei, M.D., a psychiatrist in New York City, told Harvard Medical School that a lot of the credit (again) goes to the breathing practices in yoga, which can help you relax and relieve tension after a crazy stressful day.

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