How to deal with negative thoughts and anxiety

Just say no

Words by Harriet Griffey

Some of us are more prone than others to allowing negative thoughts spiral, or our anxieties to get the better of us, but there are some simple ways of keeping a handle on these feelings and not letting them get in the way of happiness.

How to banish negative thoughts

Connect

We are social beings and need to connect. Rather than ruminate on something that’s troubling us, sharing our thoughts with a trusted friend can help shift perspectives and help us see other possibilities with a problem.

Keep going

Remember, no feeling is final: just keep going and allow it to pass. Our thoughts are like the weather, they come and go like the clouds, but the sky remains the same.

Count your blessings

Sounds trite but dwelling on what’s good in life is helpful in counteracting negative thoughts: every day, think of three good things that have happened – however small – make a note and remind yourself of these.

Check your reality

The mood may be, ‘we’re all going to hell in a handcart’ – but is it really true? How much difference will what you’re dreading make in an hour? A day? A week? Will the worse really happen? Based on past experience and reality, probably not. So shelve that worry, it’s unlikely to happen.

Avoid comparisons

Wherever you look you can find those who seem more successful, happier, thinner – whatever – but there’s no making comparisons that can make you feel worse about yourself, as there will always be those better – and worse – off than ourselves.

Ask for help

Chronic stress can spiral into negative thoughts, negative thoughts into anxiety: ask for help if it begins to feel unmanageable. There’s no shame in taking care of yourself – a bit like on the aeroplane, where they tell you put your oxygen mask on first before you can help others.

Harriet Griffey’s new book I Want to Be Happy is out now (Hardie Grant, £7.99)

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