Updated: Apr 19
First of all, what exactly is catastrophizing? Well, according to Webster's dictionary, it's to imagine the worst possible outcome of an action or event : to think about a situation or event as being a catastrophe or having a potentially catastrophic outcome.
It's easier to notice when someone else seems to always think the worst, but what if it is something you struggle with? Examples are assuming you would be fired for any mistake you make on your job or if you drop someone off at the airport, automatically thinking or worrying that the plane may crash.
Sometimes children and teens may catastrophize by thinking if they fail a test, they are going to be a failure in life. This is something to pay close attention to and address supportively.
Self-monitoring is the first step to increasing awareness and managing these thoughts. Catastrophic thoughts can happen when a person is stressed out or exhausted. Engaging in additional self-care is an important consideration during these periods. Relaxing or stress-relieving activities such as exercise, sports, hobbies, meditation, and mindfulness can help significantly. Questions to ask yourself include:
How am I feeling when I have these thoughts?
Is there a pattern?
Are these thoughts leading to actions that do not support me?
Does this pattern of thinking impact other areas of my life?
Keys to Success
Checking in on yourself or a loved one is important. Although catastrophic thinking can be corrected with awareness and self-care, it could also be more serious if related to trauma, PTSD, depression, or anxiety. If you struggle with this and can't seem to manage it effectively, seek advice from a therapist or counselor. Feel free to reach out to us if you have questions.