My tips for combatting negative thinking
Having dealt with periods of negative thinking, Denise shares her tips for combatting those thoughts.
Written by Denise Harding
Voices - Advice
Young people share advice based on their experiences.
Everyone has dealt or probably will deal, with negative thinking. For some, it can be a pattern they find themselves falling into a bit more than others, and that’s okay, the way everyone reacts or thinks is different.
I have dealt with periods of negative thinking and I know sometimes that particular patterns of thinking can linger if I don’t act on it.
There are tips and techniques I have gained along the way to counteract how I am thinking. They may not lift my mood immediately, but they do help with remaining positive.
Here are my tips to combat negative thinking.
Acknowledge negative thoughts
Rather than avoiding negative thoughts, I acknowledge them. I let myself come to terms with the fact that I am experiencing these thoughts, and that it’s okay.
Negative thoughts are as normal as experiencing positive ones, and the more I tell myself this, the less I feel the need to worry about them.
It has helped me realise that they just happen and there may not even be a reason.
I once learned that keeping my thoughts inside can make them seem more overwhelming than they are. Physically writing them down on a piece of paper feels like I am releasing them. If I write out my thoughts, it’s like I am leaving them behind on the page and out of my mind.
I find this is a particularly helpful exercise to do before my thoughts get too overwhelming. Seeing the words or thoughts on the page in front of me, can also help to show me that the thoughts I am having may not be as negative as they seem.
Of course, journaling can be a great mindfulness exercise to practise at any time. I love journaling about more positive moments too, and memories I may want to look back on.
Talk through it
Sometimes I like to deal with things on my own, but a lot of the time I know I just need to talk through it. For me, internalising how I feel gives more space for negative thoughts to grow. Voicing my thoughts will often give me a sense of a weight being lifted from my shoulders.
Whether it’s a chat with a family member, friend or a trusted mental health professional, I have always found talking through what I am thinking to have a positive effect on how I am feeling.
Focus on something else
While I don’t believe ignoring negative thoughts is helpful, there are times when working around them can be a good way to deal with them. Reading a book, going for a run or meeting a friend for coffee, I choose whatever I like to do for fun and focus on that. Any positive moment can help me to see that a negative thought is just that, a negative thought and nothing else.
Find a moment and take a break
If I find negative thoughts are starting to become overwhelming, I find a moment to simply pause and breathe. While we all tend to lead busy lives, it can be hard to find a moment, but it can make a huge difference to my day and how I think about it. Taking a break to gather my thoughts, or even time out to grab a cup of tea, will help me to relax and let go of the negative thoughts.
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