Tips For Chilling Out When You're Obsessively Thinking About Someone (Whether Good Or Bad)

Sometimes we meet someone, and no matter how hard we try, we can't shake them from our bones. Other times, we end a relationship (either romantic or platonic), and as much as we might want to forget that person, we just can't do it. Then, there are those people we barely know or have never met (Pedro Pascal, anyone?) who completely dominate our thoughts 24/7. When this happens, you're officially obsessed, and you're not sure how to dig your way out of it.


Obsessive thinking is real, and when it comes to thinking about a particular person, it can be overwhelming. From the moment we open our eyes in the morning to the second our head hits the pillow at night, all we think about is that person. Why? Because it feels great, no matter if the obsession is a good one or a bad one. We can thank dopamine and its effects on pleasure and feelings of satisfaction for that.

"When we ruminate and really obsess about someone, it's because the dopamine response has gotten triggered," psychotherapist and dating coach Kate Stewart tells Refinery 29. "Dopamine draws people together, and when they've been together a little longer, the oxytocin sets in, and that's a bonding hormone. It's more about comfort and stability."


Although obsession is common, it's not exactly healthy. When we tie ourselves up in the thoughts of someone else, it can reach levels that are enough to drive anyone mad. While there's no cure-all for obsessively thinking about someone, there are tips for chilling out and giving your brain a break.

Ask yourself 'why?'

So you're obsessing. That's a fact. You can't take a breath or have a bite of food without thinking about the object of your obsession. This is just how it is, and you've recognized it, but why? What is it about this person that has lured you into their web? Sure, dopamine plays a role, but initial thoughts didn't stem from dopamine; They started with something that intrigued you about that person.


If you break down why you can't stop thinking about them and the "it" factor that makes them more interesting than others, then you can have a better understanding of the cause, and it will lead to having more control over the situation. Although you can't just stop obsessing overnight, if you can at least find the source (the way they talk, how they style their hair, their analysis of Goethe's impact on science), whatever it is, you can start to unpack those thoughts. Very few people are worthy of obsessive thoughts. Realization and unpacking it all might help you see that this person isn't as special as you think.

Redirect your thoughts

Although it's easier said than done, if every time your thoughts start getting obsessive, you redirect them, you can avoid them becoming all-consuming. Think about it this way: You existed before the obsession started, and you'll exist after the obsession goes away. You have other things in your life to think about, worry about, and work on that have nothing to do with that person you can't get out of your head.


A good way to redirect thoughts is by putting them into action. If you concentrate on painting, writing, reading, playing music, or even balancing your monthly budget, you're using your brain in a way that keeps your obsession at bay. It's hard to balance a budget or read "Crime and Punishment" if your brain is focused on something else. If you don't already have some projects you could be working on, come up with some. There's always something that needs to be done, something that you may have put off, so recall what that is and dive into it.

Examine your needs

When we obsess over someone, it's because we've convinced ourselves that we need them in some way. If it's someone we're obsessively crushing on from afar, we may have decided that they will fill a void in our life. If our obsession is with an ex, we may have allowed ourselves to get stuck in the past, creating a need for them to move forward.


If you look at what you think you need them for and what you actually need, you're likely to find you're completely whole as it is. As much as our culture has imprinted on our brains that we're looking for our other half so we can become whole, that's not the case. We're already whole. We come into this world whole. If you can redefine what your needs are and see that they don't need to be fulfilled by someone else, then you have a better chance at breaking your obsession.

Keep your distance

It doesn't matter if the person you're obsessing over is a celebrity you've never met or a past lover. If you stop staring at their social media, it will make a world of difference. Of course, you'll still have your memories and imagination, but at least it won't be fueled by new photos, new posts, and new updates. If your obsession is a bartender or barista you don't follow on social media (because you don't know their name), then it's time to switch bars and coffee shops. Why? Because out of sight, out of mind works.


Not only will less interaction, either IRL or online, help, but switching up your routine will allow you to get your obsessive thinking under control. Spicing up our day-to-day by getting out of our comfort zones forces our brains to work differently. You no longer anticipate ordering your coffee from that barista you've been crushing on but anticipate the unknown by going to a place where that barista doesn't work. Human beings are creatures of habit. When you break a habit, things stop being automatic, and your brain has to use conscious thought to get tasks done. In other words, you're challenging your brain to think about something other than your obsession. 

Give it time

If you consider the first person you ever obsessed over and think about them now, you might find yourself giggling at how intensely you thought about them. You're probably able to put yourself back in that place where you firmly believed your obsessive thinking would last forever. But it didn't. Instead, you moved on, and your brain followed suit. That's one of the best things about time. It has a way of cleaning up the past.


While obsessing over someone can be fun (to a degree), when it becomes debilitating, it's time to do something about it. You may not be able to rid yourself of the thoughts instantaneously. Yet, if you stop feeding those thoughts with contact, social media, and imaginary happily-ever-after scenarios, you're making strides to overcome them. Some things in life take baby steps, and learning how to chill out when it comes to obsessive thinking is one of them.