Exercises to Stop Negative Thinking
how to reduce negative thoughts
1/14 Exercises to Stop Negative Thinking
1 | Write it & Release It
- Write out every negative thought you have.
- Then, look at the list you have & write an affirmation or positive aspects of each of those negative statements you wrote.
Then, take it a step further.
Use a washable marker and write every single affirmation on you.
This can be a powerful way to connect yourself to those affirmations.
If you want to take it another step further, take each one of the negative thoughts and burn them.
If fire seems a little too intense for you try these instead
- Buy a balloon, write thoughts on them, pop the balloon
- Buy a helium balloon & let the negative thoughts go with the balloon.
- You could write them on the balloon, or tie the paper to the string, or even tape the paper to the balloon.
Either way, the physical activity of releasing those negative thoughts is just one of the powerful and healing exercises to stop negative thinking.
2/14 Exercises to Stop Negative Thinking
2 | Journaling
This can be a good outlet and sometimes expressing how we feel can help us process it, allowing us to become more constructive.
This is one of the easiest exercises to stop negative thinking.
- You can just write.
- If it helps, you can reflect on what you write.
- This can give you an idea of where your negativity stems from, help express it, and minimize it.
3/14 Exercises to Stop Negative Thinking
3 | Art
- You can express yourself with drawing, painting, sculpting, music, and any other form of art.
- Painting is just one of the exercises to stop negative thinking.
- You can even use abstract painting to eliminate negative thoughts.
- If it helps, you can look at your journaling and try to create some of things you’ve written.
Unexpressed feelings will continuously reoccur if they’re locked inside us.
The negativity will show in the decisions you make, in how you interact with others, & will even impact how you perceive yourself.
Incorporating art encourages self expression and creates fun exercises to stop negative thinking.
4/14 Exercises to Stop Negative Thinking
4 | Talk to Someone
Journaling is a good way to start expressing ourselves, but articulating or speaking out loud forces us to use the language area of our brain, which is crucial in processing feelings.
Instead of thoughts spilling everywhere in your head, you’re better able to put them in order.
Explaining them can help us push pause on our negative thoughts that are getting out of hand & start sorting them out.
- There are a lot of support groups that discuss negativity and thought distortions.
- If you’re not into groups, maybe talk with family or a trusted friend.
- If you’re not comfortable with that, try even just talking with yourself, to a loved one that has passed, or your pet.
- You could even create a space dedicated to sitting with yourself and make sure to create space for different exercises to stop negative thinking.
- You could buy or create figurines that remind you of positive aspects of life.
- Add sage, a diffuser, crystals, candles, plants, decorations, quotes, pictures, whatever makes you feel good and supports the state of mind you want to live in.
Hope Recovery is a non profit organization that offers TONS of free support.
5/14 Exercises to Stop Negative Thinking
5 | Connect With Nature
Try some Ecopsychology. What is Ecopsychology?
Ecopsychology is the practice of being in nature to boost growth and healing, especially mental health.
There are quite a few ecopsychology benefits:
- It improves our basic happiness, enhances healing & encourages growth.
- It’s also one of the simplest and cheapest exercises to stop negative thinking.
- When we are outside we are more likely to feel grounded and calm.
- There are a lot of people who talk about the spiritual feeling that the outdoors gives them.
- We can gain a sense of security
- We put our overwhelming feelings into perspective.
- Some fresh air can do a lot of good.
Here are some ideas for each season:
- Ecopsychology in the Winter
- Ecopsychology in the Spring
- Ecopsychology in the Fall
- Ecopsychology in the Summer
6/14 Exercises to Stop Negative Thinking
6 | Read Motivational Quotes
Quotes can quickly provide free positive energy. You can gain insight and inspiration in just a few short words.
“Protect your enthusiasm from the negativity of others”
“To all the other dreamers out there, don’t ever stop or let the world’s negativity disenchant you or your spirit. If you surround yourself with love and the right people, anything is possible.”
“I do not associate with and I do not speak back to negativity.”
― Farrah Abraham
Quotes are one of the quickest exercises to stop negative thinking. Here are more:
7/14 Exercises to Stop Negative Thinking
7 | Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
How to stop overthinking and negative thoughts
CBT: An effective form of treatment for the chronic negative feelings is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
CBT is a form of psychotherapy that helps a person identify negative thought patterns so they can change them.
I’ll show the CBT model below so you can get the concept. Below the CBT model I’ll put some more links to posts describing and putting into practice exercises to stop negative thinking.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is going to take a bit longer than some of the other solutions I listed but if you feel this way often it might be exactly what you need.
I’ve been in CBT for years now and it was the best thing I ever did for myself.
8/14 Exercises to Stop Negative Thinking
8 | Eliminate the Source
If there is a particular family member, friend, environment, coworker, etc. that seems to stay in a negative state of mind, be mindful of the impact they have on you.
“We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.”
Whether you fully believe that or not, just take into consideration what your diet is, by diet I mean what you’re consuming through the media or people that you watch, hear, read, etc.
These can influence our thoughts, which will directly influence our feelings.
9/14 Exercises to Stop Negative Thinking
9 | Work Out
Moving improves our mood. How many times have you heard “exercise releases endorphins”?
These chemicals make us more tolerant of negativity and pain. It promotes healing, not only in our body but in our minds.
Exercise makes it easier for our neurons to adjust to difficulties which will curb the negativity.
Not only does it improve your mood immediately, but over time your brain creates more dopamine receptors which makes being happier, easier.
10/14 Exercises to Stop Negative Thinking
10 | Freeze It
Here is another one of the witchy exercises to stop negative thinking.
- Write out the negativity on paper
- Rip up the paper and toss it in a container or baggie
- Fill the container with water
- Then freeze the container!
This tangible exercise allows you to visualize freezing the negativity in it’s tracks.
11/14 Exercises to Stop Negative Thinking
11 | Drown Them
I know, it sounds intense.
- Find some rocks
- Use washable markers and write the negative thoughts on the rocks
- Throw the rocks in a lake, river, pond, or ocean
Being in nature is therapeutic in itself and will help you have a spiritual experience.
You can chuck the rocks as far as you can. You could try to find bigger rocks to represent more prominent negative thoughts. Or choose smaller ones for them, it’s up to you.
Either way, have piece of mind knowing their sitting at the bottom of a body of water.
Physically throwing the negative thoughts is symbolic, cheap and powerful.
12/14 Exercises to Stop Negative Thinking
12 | Bury Them
You could find sticks, rocks, leaves, acorns, or anything you find outside naturally that you can write on. I avoid using anything that isn’t eco-friendly.
- Write the negative thoughts on the objects,
- Dig a hole as deep as you can or as far away as you want.
- Or, if you see another area that would be meaningful to you, use that spot.
Digging is good exercise & you’ll be outside which will add to the experience.
- Part ways with the negative thoughts.
- Say anything you’d like to them.
- Then, toss them in the hole and bury them.
Each time you scoop the dirt and cover the thoughts you’re that much further from them.
It’s a symbolic exercise. It’s accessible to pretty much anyone & it’s cheap.
13/14 Exercises to Stop Negative Thinking
13 | Return Them
Most of our negative thoughts have become our inner critic because of hearing them from someone else as children.
Think about the thoughts & where they originated. Did your mom, dad, sibling, or caregiver example that mindset or even tell you to think that way? Sometimes they don’t come right out and say it but express it in other ways.
- Maybe they only praised you when you PERFECT or maybe they never did at all.
- Sometimes the thoughts come from our culture.
- The American culture is pretty focused on winning, instead of our effort.
- Trauma, PTSD, and neglect can contribute too.
If this happened to you, whos fault was it? not yours..
I felt an EXTREME amount of guilt because my mom passed away when I was a child. As children, we internalize our caregivers shortcomings.
So put the thoughts back where they came from.
Here is one way:
- Find a picture of the place, person, or source of the negative thoughts
- Glue the picture to a paper with space underneath
- Journal underneath the picture explaining why the thoughts are not yours & why you’re returning them. You could even just write on the back of the picture.
- Put it in an envelope & throw it away, or burn it in a bonfire, or bury it. You could even mail it to the person if you feel so inclined.
Another good idea is to picture the source of the negative thoughts being with you as you write, and to read what you’ve wrote out loud afterwards, envisioning the source being present.
This is another one of the accessible, easy, therapeutic, exercises to stop negative thinking. The act of “returning the negative thoughts” can vary, so feel free to get creative.
14/14 Exercises to Stop Negative Thinking
14 | The Feelings Game
Exercises to Stop Negative Thinking
- Find a buddy
- Make a board
- Write negative feelings on the board
- Get a dice, or pebble; something small you can toss on the board
- Go back and forth with another person, or even a group or as a family. (I use to do this with my son & step kids when they were younger).
I had a bowl of candies, and whatever the number the die landed on was how many candies they got.
Then whatever feeling the die lands on they tell a story about when they felt that way, what made them feel that way, and what happened afterwards.
The exercise allows us to process our feelings. It also allows us to see the impacts of our feelings.
When we explain “what happened” we’re describing the process of CBT which is the idea that our thoughts impact our feelings which impact our actions.
This can be insightful for us to explain and can put our actions into perspective.
You can make rules, like no crosstalking to make everyone feel safe if you want.
Crosstalking is referring to anyone else’s share/turn, commenting on it, or giving advice, etc.
The share should be about whoever is sharing & be protected from anyone else’s feedback when crosstalk rules are in place.
Nobody should be shamed for their feelings.
You don’t have to have the crosstalk rule but it’s just an idea.
We also lit frankincense and dimmed the light just to add a vibe & dimming the lights made it a bit less intense when sharing.
There are some exercises to stop negative thinking. If you have other ideas to stop negative thinking, feel free to leave them in the comments below.
Exercises to stop negative thinking can be healing and fun.
You can always repeat any of the exercises for negative thinking and it’s not a bad idea to do some of them from time to time.
HI! I’m a mental health nurse. I grew up around alcoholism & addiction. My mom passed away when I was 12… Long story short; I’m into mental health & have always been fascinated by it. If you are too you can read more at twoforsue.com or subscribe & I’ll send you an email every time I post something new.
Posts Related To Exercises To Stop Negative Thinking
Some personality disorders have a tendency to have a distorted perception of self and pervasive negative thoughts. There is a full list of personality disorders below if you want to read about them.
Cluster A: Social withdrawal or awkwardness driven by distorted thinking
Cluster B: Dramatic, impulsive and emotional thinking/behavior
- Antisocial Personality Disorder
- Borderline Personality Disorder
- Histrionic Personality Disorder
- Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Cluster C: Driven by fear
- Avoidant Personality Disorder
- Dependent Personality Disorder
- Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder
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