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7 Ways I Combat Negative Thoughts

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Everyone battles negative thoughts at some point in their lives. You didn’t get the job, you’ve lost someone close to you, or you’ve had a fight with your partner. Negative experiences produce negative thoughts, but when you suffer from mental illness, negative thoughts can surface even during happy times. There are ways to combat negative thoughts so you can go on with your day and enjoy what’s happening around you. These are specific ways I battle negative thoughts when they pop into my head:

1. I get creative.

Art can be a form of therapy for those who suffer from mental illness. It’s relaxing, keeps you mindful of your immediate surroundings, and is a great form of self expression. I don’t know if it’s considered art, but I enjoy coloring. I focus on a color scheme and staying in the lines, and I forget about my worries as I do so.

2. I meditate.

Mindfulness and deep breathing are two ways that I combat negative thoughts. Mindfulness is the practice of focusing on the moment you are in, allowing your thoughts to flow freely and learning to accept those thoughts for what they are. Deep breathing and mindfulness go hand in hand. Deep breathing while practicing mindfulness helps you to relax and be aware of your body, and aware of each breath. Meditation can be important when battling negative thoughts because it brings about personal reflection, which I feel can help eliminate negative thoughts.

3. I stay active.

Keeping your body busy can also keep your mind busy. I take walks with my daughter and mindfully look around and remain aware of what is around me. I’ve found yoga is another great way to combat negative thoughts as it focuses on breathing. Playing sports can help with negative thoughts because you have to concentrate on rules, other players, and the goal of the game.

4. I eat well.

I believe the statement “you are what you eat” can also apply to your thoughts. If you eat poorly, that may result in negative thoughts about your body and lower your self-esteem. When I make healthy food choices, I feel proud of taking care of my body, which boosts my self-esteem and improves my body image.

5. I am social.

When I’m having negative thoughts, it is extra hard to want to get out of bed and interact with others. But I know if I push myself to get out of bed, get ready and leave the house, I will feel better. Surrounding yourself with fun, positive people can help replace your negative thoughts with thoughts of who you are with and the fun you are having in that moment.

6. I make lists.

When negative thoughts take over my mind, I forget about the positive things in my life. That’s why, when I’m feeling down, I make a series of lists to remind myself of what I’m thankful for, what makes me happy and what I want to remember when I’m older. I keep a gratitude list, a “what makes me happy” list, and an “I want to remember…” list, and as I write, the negative thoughts disappear and are replaced with happy memories, fun experiences, and many thanks for the good things in my life.

7. I nap.

Sometimes, a nap is just the thing to erase negative thoughts. Napping, waking up and starting over really helps me to continue my day with a more positive perspective. Sometimes, I am having negative thoughts because I am tired, so catching up on much-needed rest helps me to wake up and start over fresh with more positive thoughts.

What works for me may not work for you. But I encourage you to find an activity or a hobby that you enjoy, because I think doing what we enjoy is a surefire way to battle negative thoughts. Even if it is as simple as reading a book, or as complex as sudoku, do something that busies your body and your mind and I think you will find that you will have a decrease in negative thoughts and an increase in mindful, positive and realistic thoughts.

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Originally published: May 7, 2016
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