Let’s say you have a big project coming up at work. When you think about it, do you feel excited about the chance to show off your skillset? Or nervous that you’ll somehow mess it up and jeopardize your job, your career, and your chance at happiness in one fell swoop?
Catastrophizing—or assuming the worst possible (and sometimes impossible) outcome in a given situation—is something we all do from time to time. But some of us are more prone to it than others. Those who have a lot of underlying stress and anxiousness in their lives might find it particularly hard to break up with the unhelpful habit.
To pump the breaks on catastrophic thinking and negative thought loops, experts recommend a few mental exercises. First, you can think the situation over while calling yourself by your first name to create some distance and adopt a more neutral point of view. Or, you can consider how much less pressing the outcome of the event will probably feel a month, a week, or even a few days from now. Finally, you can ground yourself in the current moment and reconnect with your reality. Chances are that when you do, the situation playing out in your head will feel slightly less, well, catastrophic.
You can connect with the present through activities like deep breathing, exercising, or even just doing some distracting household chores. mindbodygreen also designed a calming supplement to be yet another resource for in-the-moment grounding.