Negative thoughts can sometimes enter our minds and get stuck there. For most, this isn’t the norm and doesn’t affect their daily lives. Problems can occur when negative thoughts become all-consuming. Negative thinking can lead to stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and other conditions.
There are several things you can do to keep these thoughts at bay. This article will offer suggestions for clearing your mind of negative thoughts.
- Tips for How to Clear Your Mind of Negative Thoughts
- 1. Take a Walk
- 2. Focus on Your Breathing
- 3. Make a Gratitude List
- 4. Write Down Your Negative Thoughts and Throw Them Away
- 5. Posture and Body Positioning
- 6. Coloring Books
- 7. Identify Where These Thoughts Are Coming From
- 8. Exercise
- 9. Change Your Environment and Your Activity
- 10. Affirmations and Self-Love
- 11. Speak With a Professional
- Chase Those Negative Thoughts Away
Tips for How to Clear Your Mind of Negative Thoughts
We’ve compiled a list of suggestions to help ease or erase negative thinking. These are tips nearly anyone can try to combat negative thoughts and won’t cost you a penny. There’s no one-size-fits-all remedy, so if you try one and it doesn’t help, move on and try another suggestion.
1. Take a Walk
Sometimes a simple solution for when those negative thoughts begin to creep into your mind is to go outside and get some fresh air. Take a brisk walk around the block or a mindful walk through the park.
Observe your surroundings and take a deep breath. Putting yourself in a new environment can do wonders. Do your best not to think about anything; just observe everything around you.
If you live near a park or, better yet, a forest, walk in these areas if it’s safe. Some research suggests that spending time around trees can help lower blood pressure, reduce stress, and elevate your mood.
If possible, city dwellers can seek out green spaces when they feel overwhelmed with negative thoughts. Walking among trees and other greenery can help chase away those bad thoughts.
2. Focus on Your Breathing
When negative thinking is taking over your mind, focus on your breathing. Unless you’ve spent time practicing breathing exercises, being very aware and conscious of your breathing may take a lot of effort. Placing all your attention on breathing can help you to stop listening to the negativity in your head.
Inhale slowly and evenly for as long as you can. Hold your breath for a brief moment before exhaling in the same slow and calm manner as you did while taking in the breath.
Do this for a few rounds, only focusing on the task at hand, your breathing. Calm, slow, and focused breathing reduces stress and decreases your heart rate and blood pressure. Controlled, slow breathing, even for a minute or two, can bring you into a more relaxed state of mind.
3. Make a Gratitude List
The physical act of writing with pen and paper can help redirect your thoughts. Creating a list of the things you are grateful for is a wonderful way to distract yourself from negative thoughts. A gratitude list is different from journaling. Most who keep private journals write about all their feelings, positive and negative, although most tend to focus on the negative.
A gratitude list helps you see all the good things in your life. Redirecting your thoughts to positive aspects of your life, no matter how small, can quickly quell those darker thoughts. Starting can sometimes be challenging, but your list can contain fundamental things.
Keeping it simple is a good starting point for those stuck. Try starting with your favorite food, like, “I’m grateful for tacos.” Others could include cool summer breezes or your most comfortable pair of jeans.
Once you get started, you’ll realize many more things you’ve been blessed with. Place your list where you can see it, such as on your refrigerator or bathroom mirror.
4. Write Down Your Negative Thoughts and Throw Them Away
For some who suffer from negative thoughts, it helps to write them down. The opposite of a gratitude list, this one is not meant to be kept. Grab the pen and paper and jot down the negative thoughts running through your mind.
Set a timer for five minutes and write down as many of them as you can think of. Write out as many as possible, no matter how minor or trivial. Don’t spend a lot of time focusing on and rehashing these negative statements. The point is to get them out on paper.
Once the timer goes off, stop writing. You have a few options as to what to do with the list. You can crumble it up and toss it in the trash or tear the paper up into tiny pieces before depositing it in the garbage. If you’re more of a spiritual type, take it outdoors and bury it in the ground.
You can take it a step further by going to a safe outdoor location where there are no burn bans in effect and burning it. (Maybe the grill on your back deck?) The symbolism of destroying these negative thoughts can help remove them from your mind so you can move on with your life.
5. Posture and Body Positioning
A simple yet effective way to fight negative thoughts is to take a quick look at your posture. Notice the position of your spine. If you’re hunched over with slumped shoulders, your body language shows a posture of defeat.
Square your shoulders, lift your chin, and straighten your back. Slight adjustments to your posture and body positioning can stimulate more positive thinking.
Try smiling, even if you don’t feel like it. Even a fake smile or fake laughing can elevate your mood.
A healthy, upright posture and a smile can do wonders for your mental state. Correcting your body language from one of sadness, worry, or defeat to one of confidence may be enough to trick your brain and end the flow of negative thinking.
6. Coloring Books
We all remember the unbridled joy of coloring when we were young. That joy doesn’t need to end now that we are older. When experiencing negative thoughts, get yourself a coloring book and some crayons and create fabulous (or not-so-fabulous) artwork. No matter what your artistic level is, everyone can color.
Recently, adult coloring books have been all the rage. However, any coloring book will do, even those made for children. Coloring helps to reduce stress and anxiety. It provides a creative outlet to help remove negative thoughts.
Once you dive into a coloring project, your thoughts will drift to which colors to use, which can help put your mind in a meditative state. There are no rules in coloring, so you can color outside the lines or use any colors you want. Purple elephants and blue suns are both okay.
7. Identify Where These Thoughts Are Coming From
For some, introspection can bring about a greater understanding of why these negative thoughts appear in their minds in the first place.
Without judgment, take a deep look at these thoughts and identify where they’re coming from. Understanding the source of these negative thoughts can help you combat them.
If you’ve identified triggers or things that bring about these negative thoughts, see what you can do to change them.
For many, the pressures of social media can bring up negative thoughts about status, body image, and a myriad of other unpleasant feelings. If this is the case, consider taking a social media break or severely limiting your time online.
Exercise has been proven to elevate mood and promotes healthier, more positive thinking. This doesn’t need to be a long-term commitment to a gym membership or personal trainer.
When that negative thinking kicks in, go for a jog around the block or try an indoor aerobic activity. Vigorous exercise is an excellent way to relieve or burn off stress because it releases feel-good endorphins in the brain. This could be the solution you’ve been looking for.
If traditional exercise isn’t for you, you can try other types of exercise. Even if you don’t consider yourself a good dancer, dancing is a fabulous and fun way to get your body moving. Put on some upbeat music and move your arms and legs to get your blood moving and your mind off negative thoughts. How about salsa dancing?
Another option is yoga. Find some basic yoga postures and spend a few minutes moving your body. Any physical exercise or movement is a healthy and positive way to clear your mind of negative thoughts.
9. Change Your Environment and Your Activity
When those negative thoughts begin, sometimes a change of scenery can have a positive effect. You may not be able to get out for a walk, but something as simple as walking into a different room can flip the switch from negative to positive.
If the task you’re performing brings on a bad line of thinking, take a break and walk away for a few minutes. Focus on something different, even if only for a minute or two, before returning to the task at hand.
Sometimes negative thinking starts when we’re doing nothing at all. An idle mind can be a dangerous place. When those negative thoughts begin, quickly find an activity that forces you to focus your thoughts elsewhere.
10. Affirmations and Self-Love
Affirmations are a great way to switch your thinking and take control. Anytime a negative thought comes to mind, be prepared with a personal affirmation to replace it. If you’re thinking that you can’t accomplish a task or assignment, replace it with, “I can do this,” or, “Yes, I can, yes, I can.”
An affirmation doesn’t need to be an entire sentence. For some, what works best is simply telling yourself no when negative thoughts begin. Taking control of your thinking by replacing negative thoughts with positive ones gets easier the more you do it.
Waking up each morning and repeating a positive thought a few times in your head is another tool to help eliminate negative thoughts. Start each day with your own mantra, one that’s positive and one that you can easily identify with.
Along with daily affirmations, always remember to love yourself. A lot of our self-talk is negative and could be replaced with self-love.
Visualize yourself as your best friend and imagine what your best friend would tell you when negative thoughts enter your mind. Then tell that to yourself. It’s important to remember that no one is perfect, and it’s okay to have faults. Accepting who you are and loving yourself are great tools for remaining positive.
11. Speak With a Professional
Consulting with a life coach or therapist about your negative thoughts is another avenue that has helped many people. There’s no shame in seeking help or guidance from those who have some mental health training.
People with chronic negative thoughts could benefit from first speaking to their primary healthcare professional to rule out medical issues related to this unfortunate state of mind.
Chase Those Negative Thoughts Away
We all may have the occasional negative thought. For some, this is a constant battle. We’ve given you 11 tips for how to clear your mind of negative thoughts.
Changing your posture, identifying the causes, and exercising are a few of them. Spending time around greenery or trees can do wonders for some, while others must repeat a few affirmations to chase those negative thoughts away.