We all struggle with unhelpful thoughts from time to time. These thoughts become problematic when someone gets stuck on them and cannot find a way to make them stop. These thoughts can cause distress, irritability, and muscle tension or pain. Unhelpful thoughts take you out of the present moment, separating you from connecting with the people and activities you care about.
These are some things you can do to help challenge these unhelpful thoughts:
- Every time you notice an unhelpful thought, imagine a stop sign or tell yourself “stop” and then refocus on your task. This skill helps rewire your brain. Neurons that fire together, wire together. The longer we spend thinking about something, the better the neuronal connection. Interrupting this connection with thought stopping is important in changing unhelpful thought patterns.
- Identify three objects around you. Notice color, texture, temperature, shape, etc. This skill helps you come back to the present.
- Take a short walk, stretch for a couple of minutes, take deep breaths, or splash your face with cold water. Your body and mind are connected. This skill helps calm your body which can lead to a change in your thoughts.
- Do a puzzle, read a book, watch a fun show or movie (not the news or emotionally heavy show/film), use a fidget to keep your hands busy, play with your pet, volunteer, or follow positive and empowering accounts on social media. This skill helps you build in downtime to your day that isn’t focused on unhelpful thoughts.
- Set your lock screen or background image to be a photo of someone or something that brings you joy, write down the things you were grateful for each day, or meditate on sending love to people you care about. This skill helps with rewiring the brain to focus on more hopeful, happy, and calming thoughts.
Changing thought patterns is possible with time and practice. Be patient with yourself as you are working on incorporating new skills and ways of thinking.
Wishing you all pleasant thoughts,
Moriah and Elizabeth