How to Overcome Negative Thoughts

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14 Easy Ways to Help You Stop Negative Thoughts

We all know you can’t always choose to be happy. There will be things in your life, like loss, illness, and struggles with mental health, that will prevent you from simply waking up and saying, “I think I’ll be happy today!” And that’s fine. Thankfully, there are some external factors that contribute to unhappiness that people can work on. While you can’t choose to be happy, you can try to shift some of your negative thoughts, to help give a more positive outlook. Here are some general tips that you can try to see if they work for you.

Seven Habits to Help End General Negativity

Sometimes, we just feel ourselves getting into a rut. No matter what happens, it’s hard to change our perspective that things are bad, and they will always be bad. Frankly, bad things are a part of life; they will always occur. But that doesn’t meant that you have to dwell on them. You may not be able to change circumstances, but you work on shifting your perspective of them. To help you shake off that negative funk, try some of these simple tips.

  1. Start a gratitude journal. It’s easy, and it will help change your perspective on your situation. Some days it may feel like there’s nothing to be grateful for, but don’t feel pressured. Choose small things, like the really tasty treat you had for dessert, or that ice cold water bottle you had saved on a hot day. For an extra challenge, write down things you are grateful for at the start of the day. If you go into a potential stressful situation already grateful about certain aspects of it, you’ll be more likely to leave with a positive attitude.
  2. Drink less caffeine. Too much caffeine can make you anxious, which can make you feel more negative about things.
  3. Meditate or practice deep breathing. While you do this, think about things that are positive, or that make you happy. If you can’t do that, try to clear your mind instead.
  4. Go out and be in nature. Being around plants and trees is a proven mood booster.
  5. Practice mindfulness. There are many ways to do this, but my favorite is to talk about what I’m doing or thinking out loud. When you get trapped in negative thoughts, it really helps to talk yourself through whatever task you are doing. If I find myself replaying a painful experience in my head while cooking, I’ll say to myself, “Wow! This smells good! Now I need to put the spice in. Now I have to set out plates and silverware.” It seems ridiculous, but it helps shift your focus away from whatever negative thought you’re trapped in.
  6. Develop an exercise routine. You don’t have to do anything extreme, and you don’t have to even go to the gym! Doing some stretches or some simple aerobic exercise for around 30 mins, a few times a week, can help improve your overall mood.
  7. Listen to what your body is telling you. It’s very easy to let your negative feelings spiral out of control when you’re running low on fuel or sleep. Make sure that you eat regularly, and grab a healthy snack if you start to feel hungry between meals. Also, as much as you can manage, try to get enough sleep. If you’re really tired, it’s surprising how much taking a quick nap will improve your perspective on a situation.

Seven Habits to Help End Negativity Towards Yourself

It seems self-defeating because is it: often times, our worst critic can be ourselves. We tend to be harsh on ourselves, where we would be considerate and forgiving to others. We also won’t let ourselves live our worst moments down, even though we’re willing to forget things for the sake of other people. If you’re ready to try to stop the negative thoughts you have about yourself, consider these tips.

  1. Say your negative though out loud to yourself. Hearing you say it will help you realize how harsh you’re being.
  2. Always say something nice to yourself. If you have to, set a timer so that you have to compliment yourself at specific intervals. You can also have a set amount of compliments that you have to give yourself before the day is over.
  3. Practice self compassion. When you mess up, don’t think, “Why am I such an idiot?”. Instead, get some perspective on the situation. You can tell yourself something like, “I was very busy and stressed out at the time. I know I can fix it, and I’ll try not to do it again in the future.” You can also add in the classic, “everyone makes mistakes” to remind yourself that messing up is not always the worst thing in the world, and is an inevitable part of life.
  4. Don’t revisit negative events over and over again in your mind. Whatever happened, you can’t change it by thinking about it. When you start to fall into this bad habit, stop yourself and practice mindfulness.
  5. Remind yourself that there are some circumstances you can’t control. The perfectionist in us wants to believe that we are capable of our best every single time, in every single scenario–obviously that isn’t true. Forgive yourself for the things that you couldn’t have controlled anyway.
  6. Remind yourself that you can’t control what other people think of you.  If someone misunderstands you, don’t fool yourself into thinking that you could’ve controlled that situation. Misunderstandings happen. If you can address it in the future, than do so, if not, forget it. That person’s opinion of you doesn’t change who you are.
  7. Have self-compassion.  When you start to feel negative about an event, ask yourself if you would criticize a family member or friend for the same thing. In a scenario, maybe you had to cancel something at the last minute because you weren’t feeling like yourself. You may have had a hard time getting past the guilt of what you’ve done because you think you let other people down or inconvenienced them.  Would you hate your sibling or your friends if they had to do the same thing? If you can be understanding with others, you should be understanding with yourself.

How to Stop Negative Thought Patterns

While there are a lot of unfortunate or regrettable situations in life that you can’t control, there are a few simple things you can do to achieve a more positive outlook on them. Practice being nice, compassionate, and understanding with yourself. This will help you fight harmful, negative thoughts towards yourself that you may harbor. Regularly doing little things like exercising, listening to your body, and practicing mindfulness can help you with general negativity as well.

Use this tips to help end negative thought patterns today.

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