Catherine Graham is an Eskaton guest blogger and the wellness coordinator at Eskaton Support Center.
With so much going on in our world, it can be overwhelming when you really think about it. It goes well beyond having “just a bad day.” It’s very easy to allow negative thoughts, feelings, and emotions consume us and dampen all of the positive things we have going on in our lives. Over time, this harmful habit can cause us to get stuck in a negative cycle of thinking that leads to sadness and anger. It also can lead to apathy, that feeling of “Who cares?” that robs you of your motivation to do positive things for yourself (like exercise and eating healthy) or others.
Here are a few ideas to help you stop negative thinking in its tracks and get you back on the road to positivity:
Practice Being Present - One of the best ways to stop negative thinking is to simply stop and be present in the moment. Notice your surroundings, pay attention to the colors of the room you’re in, or take a walk and notice how your feet strike the ground as you take step after step. When we practice being still in the present moment, it’s easier to calm a racing mind, breathe, and let those negative and racing thoughts melt away.
Practice Daily Meditation – Just like being present, another powerful tool to help us banish negative thinking is meditation. Start by practicing even just one minute per day and work your way up to a longer practice. For a great resource on learning how to meditate, visit the Oprah & Deepak 21-Day Meditation Experience.
Practice Mindfulness - In addition to finding a few minutes each day to practice meditation, kick things up a notch by practicing mindfulness. By being more mindful, you can deal more effectively with negative thoughts, allowing you to let them go when they do appear. Acknowledge these thoughts, but don’t get attached to them with any sort of emotion. Just let them pass on by and go about your day. This super powerful trick will help you stop these thoughts from completely monopolizing your day.
Practice Moving - Moving the body has many amazing health benefits that go far beyond supporting our physical health. Regular exercise has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression, and may even help us to feel less stressed. To help stop negative thinking in its tracks, get a good sweat in when you’re feeling stuck in a rut. Or, get into a regular fitness routine to help keep those “good mood” endorphins flowing every single day.
Practice “Tuning In” – With so much to deal with every day, all of us are guilty of not listening to ourselves and “tuning in” to what we truly need. If we could stop for a moment and take the time to listen to what these negative thoughts are telling us, we would be able to get rid of them much more easily. When these thoughts pop up, stop, listen and ask yourself: Why am I thinking this way? What situation is causing these thoughts? What can I do about it? This sort of reflection can be a valuable tool in changing your attitude.
Here are a few additional things you try to better understand these thoughts and change them to more positive ones:
- Change any behaviors that cause negative thinking
- Stop and take five deep breaths to re-center
- Move your body with a gentle stretch or stress-busting walk
- Sip on a mug of herbal tea while reading a good book
- Listen to an uplifting podcast - two of our favorites are “The Quote of the Day Show” and “The Happiness Lab”
- Call a friend and catch up
Remember— When you are being a positive and productive thinker, you are lifting others up with you!