Negative thoughts can be debilitating if they aren’t understood, controlled, and healed. I believe that addressing negative thoughts is a process that should involve acknowledging them, investigating why they are there in the first place, and incorporating tools that can bring on a more positive and balanced perspective.
What are “negative thoughts”? They are thoughts that pop in your head that usually make us harshly judge ourselves for our decisions, blame others for all of our problems, or feel like the future is bleak. They can cause depression, anger, sadness, and interfere with our ability to really enjoy life. If you have an occasional “negative thought,” it’s probably harmless, but if they reign supreme in your mind, you might want to consider trying these steps:
Step 1-Start a Thought Journal
When an unpleasant thought pops up, stop it in its tracks and say “I’m not interested, no thank you.” Then, ask yourself why did you have it in the first place. Write down the date, the thought, and what you believe triggered it. After 14 days, take a look at your journal and brainstorm on ways to heal the root of the problem.
Step 2-Deep Breathing
When we are born, we take our first breath and when we die we take our last, which shows how important breathing is in the cycle of life. It makes sense that regulating it can help us to calm down and relax. In fact, research shows that slow deep breaths stimulate activity in the vagus nerve, a nerve that controls activity in our internal organs. When it’s stimulated, blood pressure decreases, muscles relax, and your mind and body start to feel more calm. So, when those thoughts pop up, take five to ten deep breaths.
Step 3-Start Taking Nature Walks
Studies have shown that nature walks help decrease ruminative thinking and can help with relaxation. Try taking a nature walk once a week for fifteen minutes and see if you notice a difference in how you feel.
Step 4-Start Slowly Changing Your Perspective
Take some time to self-reflect on times in your past when you were worried and it ended up all working out in the end. Try and remember those moments when negative thoughts start creeping in.
Step 5-Start Incorporating “Compassion Affirmations”
When people have negative thoughts, they are usually hard on themselves and sometimes regret decisions. Compassion affirmations are a way to start self-love TLC. Start by sitting in a comfortable upright position, take a few slow deep breaths, and close your eyes. Then say three times “I release painful and judgmental thoughts” and visualize them leaving you. Then, allow a few moments of silence and say “I am always healthy, happy, and balanced. In each moment, I am learning how to become a better version of myself.” Try this once a week and document how you feel afterwards.