While the holidays can allow much time for fun and adventure, it is also a time that many squander by the spiraling of negative thinking. People start ruminating about what they had meant to accomplish during the year, whom will be missed during special gatherings, or what hadn’t gone exactly as they had imagined. Rather than letting yourself become involved in unconstructive “yapping” of your brain, it might be a good idea to practice a few simple strategies suggested by mindfulness meditation practitioners.
Strategies to stop negative thinking
- Read and write down positive quotes. Post them where you will see them often.
- Start a gratitude journal. Every night write 5 things for which you are grateful. Write in the greatest detail to fully realize the gifts you are describing. If you repeat something for which you’re grateful, just try to write another aspect for why you are grateful.
- Keep a thought record, keeping track of what the thought was, what was happening when you realized you were thinking it, the type of negative thinking you were engaged engaging, and challenge yourself: Why was this thinking incorrect?
- Make a playlist of songs that put you in a good mood. Listen to your playlist when you are feeling sad.
- Each night, write down 3 nice things you saw during the day. Describe each event in as much detail as you can, a strategy that will allow you to remember and enjoy the positivity of the incident more completely.
- Surround yourself with positive friends, people who are generally happy and see the bright side of things.
- Remember that no one is perfect and let yourself move forward from times of sadness.
Practice mindfulness meditation
Another strategy would be to practice either mindful listening or mindful breathing. With either option, start with three slow, deep breaths so you quiet the reactive centers in your brain and body. With mindful listening, simply list, in your mind, the things you hear. When you notice yourself no longer listing the sounds, it means your brain was wandering. Just start listing again.
If you prefer to practice mindful breathing, after taking three slow, deep breaths, start counting each inhale and each exhale. When you find yourself at a number and you don’t know how you got there, again, you caught your mind wandering. Just start counting again, beginning at the number one.
None of these strategies will remove any of the problems you think you have in your life, but they will allow you the time and space to realize that, no matter what you think is wrong, your troubles are not as bad as you had been thinking. We all experience unnecessary worries at one time or another; give yourself the gift of knowing how to stop the negative thinking so you can carry on with your wonderful life.