At some point or another, we’ve all been stuck in “rut thinking,” where negative thoughts play over and over in our minds. It’s an uncomfortable place to be, but when you’re in it, getting out sometimes feels impossible. The next time you’re plagued by negative thinking, try any or all of these 5 tips for clearing your mind of negative thoughts.
1. Sit up straight
Although it’s true that our body language reflects what’s happening in our minds, the opposite can also be true: our minds can also reflect what’s happening in our bodies. If you’re having trouble letting go of negative thinking, try changing your posture or relaxing the muscles in your hands or face. Sitting up straight can help your body feel confidence and pass the message along to your brain. Try smiling or even laughing when you don’t feel like it. These physical actions can actually stimulate positive emotions.
2. Breathe slowly and deliberately
Taking deep, slow breaths helps in a couple of different ways. For one, breathing slowly requires concentration, so it draws your mind away from negative thoughts. And two, slowing down your breathing reduces stress and activates your body’s natural relaxation response. It decreases your heart rate, lowers your blood pressure, and releases muscle tension. This relaxed state will help you feel more able to visualize and embody a calm that dissipates the negative thinking.
3. Make a gratitude list
If you’ve ever tried to tell a young child to stop doing something in a given moment, you may have noticed that the only thing that really works is redirection. You offer them something better or otherwise turn their attention elsewhere. Making a gratitude list has a similar effect when it comes to redirecting the mind away from negative thinking. Start by thinking about a single thing you’re grateful for. It can be your comfortable home, your health, the companionship of your pet, warm sunny days, or anything at all that you’re grateful for. Write it down. Then write another and another. You’ll be feeling better before you know it.
4. Color in a coloring book
Adult coloring books have become an important tool for many people looking to decrease their stress and anxiety. Many psychologists recommend it for their patients as an alternative to meditation because it produces a similar calming effect. The focus required for coloring and other creative endeavors helps remove the focus from troubles and negative thinking.
5. Take a walk
Stepping out of doors and engaging in some kind of physical activity is a great way to combat negative thinking. First, it gets you out of the whatever environment you’re “stuck” in, whether it’s your quiet apartment that’s exacerbating feelings of loneliness, or your cubicle at work where your anger at a co-worker just won’t let up. A new environment can change your perspective and get you out of “rut thinking.” Once on your walk, do your best to notice what’s around you, the sound of your feet on the sidewalk or the smells in the air. This will help divert your thinking away from negative thoughts. More strenuous physical exercise helps, too.
Having trouble clearing your mind of negative thinking?
If you’ve tried unsuccessfully to empty your mind, divert your thoughts, and do things that bring you pleasure, but still haven’t been able to clear your mind of negative thinking, it may be a sign of depression, anxiety or other mental disorder.
At Alvarado Parkway Institute, we can help. Our team has the knowledge, expertise, and compassion necessary to identify and treat a number of mental health disorders. We’ll provide you with the tools and strategies you need to manage your symptoms and live a full, successful, and enjoyable life.
If you or a loved one suffers from depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, addictive disorder, or a mental health condition of any kind, give us a call, and let’s start working together toward your health and vitality today.