Bad, sad things and even negative thoughts that cause anxiety can weigh you down. If you are a constant worrier, one thing you should learn is how to take your mind off of things.
Different techniques that you can try to take your mind off of something include using grounding techniques, distraction, meditation, and acknowledging your emotions.
Take the time to explore the different techniques. There is no one way that is “right” for everyone.
Some people may prefer grounding, while others may like trying new hobbies.
If one technique doesn’t work for you, try a different one until you identify something that works for you. It can be just one technique or a combination of multiple techniques.
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How Do I Decrease My Anxious Thoughts?
When your mind starts to get anxious, there are steps that you can take to decrease your worries through grounding. One of the best ways to instantly decrease your anxiety is to follow the 3-3-3 rule. What is the 3-3-3 rule, you ask? It’s simple.
First, think of, or name out loud, three things that you can see. For example, clouds in the sky, trees blowing in the wind, or even your shoes. Take time to breathe and focus on these sights for a few deep, calming breaths.
Second, think of, or name out loud, three things that you can hear. For example, a car driving by, a dog barking, or even your coworker typing on a keyboard. Again, take the time to breathe and focus on these sounds for a few deep, calming breaths.
Third, this can be done in one of two ways. Either think about and focus on three body parts or think about three things that you can feel.
For example, if you choose to name body parts, you can focus on your feet, core, or shoulders.
Likewise, naming three things you can feel might include, the hair on your neck, glasses on your face, or shirt on your arm.
If, at any time during this exercise, you realize that your mind is wandering, take a deep breath, and come back to your thoughts.
This process takes practice. With consistent practice, your mind will be able to return to a calmer state than when you first began using this technique.
There are several other effective grounding techniques that work for anxiety. Other techniques to decrease your anxious thoughts and take your mind in a more positive direction include:
- Exercise to release excess energy. This can be a simple brisk walk or full gym workout.
- Focus on your feet. Plant them on the ground and think about what you feel.
- Create a mantra to help you go back to feeling good. Focus on that mantra for a few minutes.
- Find something to hold and focus on it. What color is it? Is it soft or hard?
A grounding technique that is like the 3-3-3 rule is the 5-4-3-2-1 coping technique. This technique is similar to the 3-3-3 rule but has a few differences.
5 – Look for five objects that you can see in your immediate surroundings. Focus on how they look. Are they bright and colorful, or dingy and dark? Also, are they large or small? Are they familiar, or do you see something new?
4 – Identify four objects that you can touch around you. Focus on how they feel. Are they soft or hard? Bumpy or smooth? Hot or cold?
3 – Identify three sounds that you hear. Focus on them – are they loud, soft, annoying, soothing? Are they close up, or are you hearing something that is far away?
2 – Identify two scents that you can smell. What can you smell? Is there a candle around? Or is it pleasant or disgusting? Is it strong or faint?
1 – Identify one thing that you can taste. What does it taste like? Is it sweet, salty, sour, spicy? Are you chewing gum?
Again, these are just a few grounding techniques that can ease your mind and allow you to regulate your inner thoughts.
There are additional techniques that you can use if your thoughts are bad or sad. Keep reading!
How Do I Stop Thinking Bad Thoughts?
If you have been worrying about something that has been bothering you, first decide if you are trying to solve the problem.
When you are not trying to solve a problem, you are most likely focusing on negative thoughts. Take the time to organize your thoughts. Are you dwelling on the bad, or are you looking for help to make something good?
Once you know the difference between the two, you will be able to figure out how to best change your thoughts.
If you are, in fact, working through a problem, you may just need to list out the steps that you need to follow to solve it.
After you make a list, you should take a break from your thoughts.
Taking a break from your thoughts and focusing on something new gives your mind a chance to recharge. When you feel like you’re ready to go back and find the solution, you may find that you have an easier time problem-solving.
If, however, you are not trying to solve a problem, you are dwelling on the negative. Your thoughts keep wandering back to something that may make you go back to bad thoughts, and you need help to change your thoughts.
To effectively change your thoughts, you cannot just say to yourself, “stop thinking about that.” It simply will not work. In order to change your thoughts and get real results, you need to change your thinking, not just your inner dialogue.
One of the easiest ways to change bad thoughts is to find something new to focus on.
For example, meal plan your dinners for the week, plan a weekend getaway or find a new hobby. These activities will help alleviate bad thoughts by taking time away from them.
Other steps you could take are to:
- Decrease the clutter around you. Rearrange your desk or clean out your car. Clean spaces help keep your mind clear.
- Talk to a trusted friend or family member, not about the bad, but about something completely different that you like. People may want you to dwell on the bad, but you need to retrain your brain to seek the good.
- As previously mentioned, exercise. If you’re not big into exercise, go for a brisk walk. If you love to exercise, start a training goal.
- Start a new hobby. Do you like crafting, but don’t think you have the time? Set aside just a few minutes each day. You do not need to become an expert overnight.
If you choose a hobby but realize that you don’t like it, move on to something else.
Having bad thoughts is not the only time you can use these steps to change your thinking.
If you realize that you are thinking sad thoughts, you can use these and other techniques to help make your mind positive.
How Do I Stop Thinking Sad Thoughts?
There are so many things going on in the world around us. It is important to remember that sad things can affect us all.
In addition to grounding techniques and changing the way you think, there are other ways to get your mind back to positive, happy thoughts.
One way to get back to thinking, good, happy thoughts is to change your current activity.
If you change what you are doing when you get the sad thoughts, you have the ability to change your emotion.
If you absolutely love romantic comedies, find your favorite to help get you on the way to happiness.
Another way to change your emotion is to allow yourself to feel the sad emotion first. Going through sad times and suppressing your feelings may not be the best for you.
By releasing your feelings through meditation, you will be able to allow yourself to feel sad and then move on.
When you release your feelings through meditation, you need to remember to forgive yourself. If necessary, let go of the past and release any guilt that you associate with the sadness.
Do your best to stay motivated. You may need a little push to get up, get going, and move towards happiness.
Even the most positive of people can get demotivated. Find something that works for you. Some people make checklists, others follow apps. Use whichever way you think is best to get motivated.
What Do You Do When You Can’t Get Something Off Your Mind?
When you truly cannot get something off your mind, you may want to consider seeking a therapist or a mentor. Look for someone who you feel comfortable talking to.
Allow yourself to be honest when talking about your feelings. Your mentor may be able to offer guided meditation to adjust your mind and your feelings.
Some people feel that guided meditation works best for them. Choose something that you like, that you will be consistent with, and that brings out your positive side. If you do not like to do a certain activity, you cannot expect to change your feelings.
Just because you cannot change your inner thoughts and feelings, doesn’t mean you should give up. Research shows that if you are outwardly showing that you are happy, your mind will change, too.
Smile more, laugh more, and you might start to notice that your thoughts become happier, too. Play enjoyable music when you can. Write a list of activities that make you happy, like gardening, playing video games, or walking your dog.
Make an effort to focus on your list of happiness.
The more you practice being positive, the more likely your mind is to choose happiness over sadness or anxiousness. Do not expect your inner thoughts to change in an instant.
You may realize that one of these techniques works better for you than others.
Give your mind time to adjust to the changes you are making. Allow your mind to wander if needed. Give yourself a break so that you don’t get overwhelmed. Keep working to see what works best for you.