So you want to stop negative thoughts. I get it. They’ve plagued me too.
Have you ever had a day where the morning starts off great, but by the time lunch rolls around your mood has completely changed?
Or have you ever had a day when you wake up and feel like something is wrong, but can’t quite put your finger on it?
And you can’t seem to stop negative thoughts that keep on coming?
It could be something someone said to you or something you saw on social media.
Either way, negative thoughts are real and can affect our moods in ways we don’t even realise.
In this blog post, I’m going to share 7 tips for preventing these negative thoughts from becoming a part of your everyday life.
We all know that we can get carried away with negative thoughts. I’ve been there too. But what if I told you that it’s possible to stop those negative thoughts from popping up in your head? Sounds like a dream come true, right?
Here are seven ways I personally use to stop my negative thoughts from taking over:
1) Start practising self-care
Self-care looks different for everyone. For some, it might be that bubble bath, blasting Enya on the stereo and some boujee bubbles for the tub. For others, it could be going out on a date with your partner, buying some flowers for the house, stroking the neighbour’s dog. I like to think about self-care as nourishment. Think about what helps you to feel nourished and cared for and make it a priority. A nurtured body leads to a positive mind and will soothe away those negative thoughts.
2) Stop comparing yourself to others
Don’t compare your Instagram feed to someone else’s and remember everyone struggles. As a therapist, I’ve heard the problems of hundreds of people (some of whose lives look AMAZING on Instagram, but IRL are a shit show), and I can assure you – everyone is struggling with something. If you can’t resist comparing, take a break from the online world and return to real life for a bit. A social media vacation can give you a chance to recalibrate and come back to yourself. If it’s not an option, can you mute the people who trigger you? No one needs to know. Come back home to yourself and focus on yourself and your life; what are you grateful for? What’s really working for you in your life right now? Even if it’s something tiny – spending time every day counting your blessings is a sure-fire way to let go of negative thoughts.
3) Talk out any issues you’re having so they don’t turn into bigger ones
The thing with negative thoughts is that if we try to suppress them, bury them and keep them to ourselves – they get bigger and stronger! Writing things down, telling a friend, a therapist, or the cat can help you to put your negative thoughts and feelings into words. There’s a saying in therapy land, ‘You’ve got to name it to tame it’. When we put our feelings and thoughts into words, we feel calmer, more in control and more resilient. Try it now.
4) Practice self-compassion
This really is so important. Like, really, really important. We all know we should be kinder to ourselves, but how many of us do it? You might be being mean to yourself on autopilot all day and not even realise. The first step is to recognise the negative shit that you’re saying to yourself. Then ask yourself, ‘How would I speak to a friend in my position?’ Then, phrase those negative thoughts with phrases like “I’m doing my best” or “It’s okay that I don’t know everything.” Self-compassion is a practice, we need to train ourselves to be kinder but the benefits are huge when we manage it.
5) Get outside
A good way to get rid of bad thoughts is by going out in nature. It’s amazing how much better you feel when you’re surrounded by trees and the sound of birds chirping. Walking in a forest is an excellent way to take a break from daily life and refresh your mind. You can walk along the river, listen to the birds, or sit under a big tree and observe the squirrels playing around. In Japan, they’ve long known about the benefits of ‘forest bathing’. Ecotherapy has been studied and researched and found useful in the treatment of anxiety and depression – so this stuff works for shifting negative thoughts. Can you stop what you’re doing (after you’ve read this blog) and get outside?
6) Declutter to stop negative thoughts
Can decluttering around your home really stop negative thoughts?
Like the old saying goes, tidy house, tidy mind, right?
Get rid of any clutter around the house, including old clothes, shoes, and books. Yes, I know you love that old t-shirt with the hole in it and those ratty shoes are your favourites. But why do you still have them? And now is a good time to get rid of all those cute but old AF hoody you’ve been sleeping in and invest in something that makes you feel good. Our clothes and surrounding can reflect our sense of worth and value and having something that makes you feel a million bucks could give your self-esteem a boost (and therefore reduce any negative thoughts). It’s at least worth a try.
7) Allowing your thoughts to be there.
I know, I know. You can’t just sit there and do nothing while negative thoughts run through your head. But what if you could let them be a passing thought instead of obsessing over them? In mindfulness, Buddhist teachers ask us to remember that we are not the thoughts themselves but rather to observe of those thoughts. Imagine the thoughts are like passing clouds. You can watch as they float into view and then out again.
There are many ways to stop negative thoughts, but the most important thing is that you don’t let them define who you are. Thoughts are not facts and just because you’re thinking negatively now, doesn’t mean you always will. In fact, thoughts are changing moment by moment and you are only ever one thought away from a more positive mood.