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Catastrophising

WHAT IS IT?
A tendency to predict exaggerated and negative outcomes about the future and worry about them. To endlessly fret about what might happen to the point it impacts your own health and wellbeing. An irrational and distorted thought process that can spiral out of control and lead to persistent negative fears.

WHAT DO THE EXPERTS SAY?

  • We all catastrophise from time to time. Children, adolescents and adults.

  • Watching negative news and events on TV and social media can lead people to catastrophise.

  • But what causes habitual catastrophising is not fully understood.

  • Thinking catastrophic thoughts on a regular basis is associated with anxiety and depression.

  • Catastrophising is also associated with people who experience chronic pain. Catastrophic thinking may worsen their experience of pain.

  • Worrying about potential events ahead can lead to physiological changes (breathing and heart rate), restlessness, loss of sleep and fatigue.

  • Some people who catastrophise adapt their behaviours and reduce their physical activity because of their fears. 

WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT IT?

  • If you are concerned about the effect catastrophising is having on your life, talk to your doctor.

  • Therapy can be an effective treatment. For example, CBT or talking therapy will help you to moderate your thinking style replacing irrational thoughts with rational ones. 

  • Try mindfulness meditation. Regular sessions will help you to recognise your own thought patterns and the effect they are having. There are lots of useful Apps now available.

  • Practise self-help. Pay attention and when you start to catastrophise say "stop'. Then challenge yourself and ask for the evidence. Is this fear something I know to be true? What are the alternative outcomes and possibilities? Is there a more likely positive outcome? How will worrying about this help me? 

  • Another self-help technique is to stay in the moment. Focus on 'what is' happening in the present, rather than what might happen in the future. Make a note of the things in your current world, guiding yourself away from future thoughts back to the here and now. These are the things you can control.

  • Get plenty of sleep. People are more likely to catastrophise when they are tired and fatigued. When you are fully rested you are likely to be less sensitive to threats and fears.

  • Take regular cardio exercise with the goal of achieving at least 20 minutes per day for five days a week. This could be a brisk walk, run or moderate to intense workout.

HELPFUL READING
 

Monkey Mind.jpg

Don't Feed the Monkey Mind: How to Stop the Cycle of Anxiety, Fear and Worry.

Jennfer Shannon 2017

Anxiety: Panicking about Panic: A powerful, self-help guide for those suffering from an Anxiety or Panic Disorder

Joshua Fletcher 2014

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The Worry Trick: How Your Brain Tricks You into Expecting the Worst and What You Can Do

David A Carbonell 2016

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