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Tips for Stopping Negative Thoughts

Negative thoughts are a part of many mental health conditions and can cause stress when they occur. Next time you find yourself with persistent negative thoughts, try these tips to stop them:

  1. When you find yourself thinking negative thoughts, firmly say, or think, “STOP!” Imagine an “X” stamping out the thoughts. Identifying negative thoughts when they occur is the first step to stopping them from repeating.
  2. Write down negative thoughts as soon as they happen. This allows you to take a breath and stop to assess whether these thoughts are fact or fiction. By identifying negative thoughts that you know aren’t true (such as, this situation will never get better; I will always feel like this), you are able to respond to them appropriately and move toward a positive outlook.
  3. When you’ve sorted out fact from fiction, work to frame the factual negative thoughts in a positive light. For example, instead of thinking “It’s going to take so long for me to find a treatment plan that works,” try thinking “I may face challenges in finding the right plan, but it will help me get to a happy and healthy place.”
  4. If your negative thoughts are about past mistakes or experiences, remind yourself that no one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes. Make a list of the lessons you’ve learned about these experiences and read them when these thoughts arise in the future.
  5. If your negative thoughts persist, imagine a large metal door shutting out the thoughts from the rest of our mind. You have now closed these thoughts out from the rest of your mind and they are locked away, no longer able to bother you.
  6. Go for a walk. Negative thoughts can produce adrenaline in our bodies that contribute to our stress and anxiety. Going for a walk helps to reduce this adrenaline and bring us to a calmer place.
  7. Repeat positive affirmations. Choose three messages that resonate with you, for example, “I am getting better every day;” I deserve happiness;” and “I am strong enough to handle anything that comes my way.”
  8. Remind yourself that these thoughts will fade with time. In a few days or a week, you will not be able to remember what you were thinking about. Repeat the phrase, “If you want to test your memory, try to recall what you were worrying about one year ago today.”

What do you do to shut out negative thoughts when you have them?


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