Have you ever felt trapped within your own mind? The term “thought loops” precisely describes this sensation. A lesser-known side effect of LSD, yet more common than most people know, the phenomenon of thought loops can be quite challenging. In this article, we take a look at what thought loops are and how to overcome a negative mindset. We also consider how to help someone who is stuck within a dark state of mind.
What is a Thought Loop?
A thought loop is, as its name indicates, an experience where one senses that they are trapped within a chain of thoughts. A person could also experience the feeling of being stuck within an action, or even an emotion.
When a person experiences a thought loop, they often feel that whatever is happening at the moment is repeating itself, like a cyclic loop. It has been reported that such a cycle lasts between five seconds to two minutes. However, each person has their own experience. As a matter of fact, people have reported having been stuck in a thought loop for several hours.
The term is well-known within the psychedelic community. Thought loops can occur after taking psychedelic drugs, particularly LSD. This can be an alarming experience for the person going through it. People often report feeling disoriented. Thought loops may progressively trigger anxiety. This can be an extremely vulnerable state, especially for those who are completely unfamiliar with thought loops.
Thought loops are most likely to occur during states of memory suppression, characterized by partial or complete failure of the person’s short-term memory. PsychonautWiki suggests that thought loops are the result of these lapses in short-term memory. The cognitive process short-circuits, unable to sustain itself for an appropriate length of time. It continually attempts to restart from the beginning, only to fall short once again in a perpetual cycle.
LSD Thought Loop
LSD can create a vast spectrum of emotions in a user, enhancing their underlining feelings. This drug may also subject the user to thought loops.
Cosmos Magazine published an article in which biologists discuss this phenomenon. Although an LSD trip may last just a few hours, people can report hallucinations lasting into the next day. The article examines a study in which a team examined the relationship between the serotonin 2B receptor and LSD.
The study examined ways in which LSD can become trapped in the receptor. As a co-author on the study explains, “[T]he body has no means of clearing it from the brain, simply because the compound is really stuck in that receptor.”
Naturally, because of LSD’s powerful effect on the brain, thought loops might be more likely for acid users than with other psychedelics. There are ways to minimize the negative effect of LSD and doing acid safely.
How to Get Out of a Thought Loop
Here are the various things you can use and try to get yourself our of a thought loop.
Getting out of a thought loop through stillness might sound a little too easy to be true. However, it does work. The fact that you are sitting completely still can help you break from a repetitive action as you are quite literally not moving anymore. You are allowing your body to not only physically slow down, but also mentally recuperate.
You could simply sit in a comfortable position or lie down, taking deep and controlled breaths.
Just as with trying to overcoming a bad trip, changing environment can be a tremendous help. This is because the environment you have set yourself in might be the very reason you are stuck in a negative space in the first place.
Changing your environment might help you break the thought loop and focus on something new. This could include altering your setting by simply turning off music that has been playing in the background, and watching a movie instead.
Anything that will make you feel comfortable and focused on a new environment can help you break the cycle.
Accepting your state of mind is important because it prevents you from trying to figuring out why you’re feeling the way you are feeling. Ultimately, this can help you overcome the thought loop you’re experiencing.
As a matter of fact, people have reported that one of the most effective ways to end a cycle of thought loops is to simply sit down and try to let go. Remind yourself that you don’t need to question your experience; try to center yourself. This is a great way to overcome your thought loop.
Additionally, you can remind yourself that thought loops are a way for you to actually learn about yourself. They are a path to a better understanding of your mind. Therefore, don’t expend your energy trying to fight what you are experiencing. Rather, be open to what your mind is trying to tell you by making you repeat your thoughts or actions.
Avoiding Combining Drugs
People report feeling worse after smoking weed or drinking alcohol as a way to overcome a disturbing thought loop. Combining substances could indeed worsen your state of mind and make you feel both mentally worse and physically ill.
Stay hydrated and grab a bite to help your body cope with your mind. Your mind is using a lot of your energy to cope with your thought loop in the first place.
Focusing On The Environment
Instead of focusing on something you cannot control or change, focus on your environment. Squeezing a stress ball, analyzing a painting, or even doing a puzzle will help you understand that you are not stuck anywhere and that you can indeed control your situation.
While stuck in a thought loop, your mind needs to shift its interest instead of obsessing. Anything to occupy your mind helps. You will soon realize that the world goes on, and time has not stopped for you.
Overcoming a troubling thought loop is very similar to overcoming a challenging trip. Read our “Tips for Bad Trips” to learn more.
Helping Someone Else Out of a Negative Thought Loop
Here are some tips and tricks to help someone else get out of a negative thought loop, especially if you are trip-sitting.
Perhaps you’ve taken the responsibility to be a user’s trip sitter, or are simply a friend. Be present for the person stuck in a negative thought loop and try to engage in a relaxing conversation. That can really help.
Show that you are here and that the person is safe with you. Ask easy and calming questions, such as their thoughts on the latest book they’ve read, or their pet’s name. Such simple questions can help the person undergoing a negative thought loop to overcome their state of mind. They will start to think about something else, rather than focusing perpetually on the very same thought.
Once again, changing environments is a very effective way to help someone overcoming a negative thought loop. You could bring the person tripping into a new room, or even outside to get some fresh air. Of course, keep monitoring them. Maybe take them on a short, safe walk to help their body reset. This uses another function of their body, rather than only using their mind.
By giving them a hug or holding their hand, you might help the user feel they’re connecting with their environment and feeling more present. You can squeeze their hands, for instance, to make the person undergoing a negative thought loop feel like they’re real, and that they are not stuck anywhere.
Engaging in an Activity
Whether by drawing sketches together, playing video games, or watching a movie, any new activity contributes to helping the user overcome their negative thought loop. Again, this can be a way for them to simply “snap out of it,” focusing on something new. They will not feel alone, and will therefore know they are safe.