Are you a slave to your negative thoughts?
“I always do something wrong.”
“People are horrible.”
“Bad stuff always happens.”
Do those statements sound like something you’d say?
If so, you’re stuck in a pattern of negative thinking. This is neither healthy nor productive in the long run.
Recent studies show that chronically negative emotions may contribute to health complications such as heart disease and hypertension. Check out these helpful strategies to curb the toxic pattern of negative thoughts.
Keep A Journal
Have you ever written down your feelings just to clear your head?
Keeping a journal or “diary” is often associated with teenagers, but it turns out everyone can benefit from expressive writing.
Write Every Day
Write down how you feel every single day. Make it a part of your daily routine and stick to it, no matter whether what you have to say is awful or great. Your writing doesn’t need to be prolific or fancy; even a few notes and abbreviated sentences can do the trick.
Reflect On Your Writing
Do you ever read anything you write in your journal?
If not, you should start doing so at least once in a while. Look at your daily entries: Can you detect a pattern of negative thinking?
If you find yourself writing with anger, pessimism, or cynicism, try throwing at least one positive thought into the mix.
“my brother is such a jerk. I always feel horrible when he comes to visit. Now he’s dating this snot-nosed know-it-all bookworm. I don’t see myself liking her anytime soon… But at least their visits are an excuse to go out for sushi.”
It’s ok to express exactly how you feel. that’s the purpose of your journal. But slipping in a positive thought here and there can condition you to a better outlook over time.
Write In the Morning
Do you typically catch up on your journal entries right before bed?
If so, switch it up. Sit down with a hot cup of coffee and your thoughts first thing in the morning. An entire day ahead of you means a fresh possibility for self-improvement.
Research shows that people who start their day on a positive note are more upbeat and productive throughout the day. Let your journal and self-awareness help nix your negative thinking:
- Think of something positive as soon as you’re up for the day
- Think of one thing you look forward to later that day (even small things count)
- Think of one funny thing (look for a joke online if you’re at a loss for something of your own)
Write all three of these down as part of your daily journal entry.
Do this and you’ll increase the likelihood of positivity throughout the day.
Mindfulness For Negative Thinking
How can you change a behavior or mindset if you aren’t fully aware of it in the first place?
Chronic negative thinking creeps up on you over a period of months or years. No one wakes up feeling the urge to be negative on purpose. If you can recognize your pessimistic outlook and then practice ways to combat it, you may transform your attitude for the better.
Do you ever wish you could switch off your mind for a while?
If so, good news: The act of meditation helps you achieve just that. Meditation can reduce stress by clearing your mind of toxic thoughts and anxiety.
The idea of meditating can be intimidating, especially if your mind is overstimulated with negative thinking. Use these steps to teach yourself how to meditate like a pro:
- Find a quiet, comfortable space at home where you won’t be interrupted
- Sit back in a relaxed, stretched out position
- Close your eyes and breathe deeply
- Let go of any thought that might come to mind as you breathe
Keep this up for five to ten minutes, building up to longer sessions if you wish.
The point of meditation is to relax and live exactly in the present. If you can relax better with background noise rather than silence, turn on some ambient music, nature sounds, or a calming instrumental playlist.
Do you like to wallow on your couch with your melancholy thoughts and a bowl of ice cream?
If so, ditch the sweets, get up from the couch and go for a walk. Even a few stretches or jumping jacks will do.
Aside from providing obvious health benefits, it’s been proven that physical activity reduces stress and anxiety. When you exercise, your body produces feel-good hormones known as endorphins, allowing your mood to improve.
You don’t have to be an Olympic athlete to take advantage of this strategy to reduce negative thinking. If you can’t physically run long distances, take up a low-impact workout like Zumba, or practice Yoga.
Not one for structured activities? Walking a mile or so each day can increase positivity and productivity as well.
How many muscles does it take to smile?
Though scientists aren’t clear on how many muscles it takes to smile, (or even if a smile takes less physical effort than a frown), it’s worth turning your frown upside down.
Practice a genuine smile even if you aren’t feeling especially positive. More often than not, you’ll notice your mood lifting soon after.
Smiles, like a good mood, are contagious. The more you smile, the more others will be compelled to do so as well.
Lift Others Up
How do you feel after cheering someone else up?
Positivity is a gift that keeps on giving. If you make someone else feel good, your own mood tends to improve. You experience an adrenaline rush from having helped someone else ditch their negative thinking. By extension, you start to feel better as well.
Find ways to help others, whether in terms of moral support or in a more tangible manner. Helping friends, relatives, and even strangers also reduces free time on your hands that you might otherwise spend with less than productive thoughts.
Ready To Conquer Negative Thinking?
You can gain a positive outlook by making small changes to conquer your toxic thought patterns.
Are you ready to ditch negative thinking once and for all? Check out more hacks and tips you can use to ease your daily struggles.