No matter how positive of a person you are, some days are better than others. One negative encounter can ruin an entire day, if you dwell on it. If you are dealing with an ongoing challenges such as a job loss, divorce, financial stress or a health problem, it is imperative that you learn how to stop negative thoughts before they take control. Knowing and learning this one key skill can keep you from sabotaging your success, ruining relationships and even sinking into depression.
The key is to catch yourself in the moment when you are thinking of negative situations. You know how it starts: You had a stressful day at work having to meet deadlines – and begin lamenting how they do not understand the pressure and you feel unappreciated. Or you or your spouse lost a job and you begin imagining the worst case scenario rather than focusing on the positive action you can take. Or maybe you are just down because life is just challenging right now and it’s taking all your strength to keep moving forward. Whatever your scenario, you can use these five techniques to keep negative thoughts from taking control:
Take a deep breath in which you breathe from your diaphragm rather than breathing from your chest. Research has shown that deep breathing reduces blood pressure, anxiety and stress. Take a moment and focus on your breathing feel it enter your nose, fill your belly and exit through your mouth. Center yourself in this moment and relax.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7)
Anticipate the negative be ready with the positive
Negative thoughts will cross your mind, especially when dealing with stress. However, choose not to meditate on the negative. Meditating on the negative can have serious mental health consequences such as depression. Instead, meditate on the positive and focus on what you are grateful for. Focus on whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.( Philippians 4:8) Think on the opportunity you have for change and improvement. These are things within your control.
Sunshine can do wonders for your mood. Being stuck physically – whether at work or home – can leave you stuck mentally. So get out. Take a walk. Run some errands. Stand on the porch or patio for a few minutes and soak up the rays. Sunshine helps your body produce vitamin D and has been shown to be a mood lifter. The more you stay indoors the more isolated you will become and feel desolate.
“Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” (Psalm 42:5)
Do something fun!
Research confirms that negative emotions are far more powerful than positive ones. Therefore, you need at least three positive emotions to overcome the negatives you face. So when you are particularly challenged with negative conversations, interactions and situations in your life, you’ve got to be intentional about countering them with positive experiences. One way to do that is have fun. What do you like to do for fun? Go do it. What brings you joy? Incorporate more of it into your life today. Do something that you enjoy take get your mind off your fears and worries, and have some fun. A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed. (Proverbs 15:13)
Get around funny, happy people
Happiness is contagious. Have you ever heard someone laughing and you laughed not knowing what they were laughing at? But the joy of the laughter was so contagious you had to laugh. When you are down, it doesn’t help to be around other negative people. Who makes you laugh? Who puts a smile on your face? Who knows how to find peace and joy even in the midst of chaos or challenges? That’s the person or persons you need to be around. Give them a call and you won’t have time to let those negative thoughts take control you will be too busy laughing and enjoying good company! Keep Company with the wise and you will become wise. If you make friends with stupid people, you will be ruined. (Proverbs 13:20)