Getting over Overthinking: Ways to Cut Negative Thinking Cycles

Negative thinking cycles are negative thoughts that stack on top of each other. Most people call it snowballing, we can call it a negative thought cycle. Why do we call it this? Because it never stops. You begin and end the day on a negative loop. Sounds scary, but research shows that majority of people have experienced this within their lifetime. So, if you are one of them you are not alone. 

Why should we care about this? Let me introduce you to the cognitive thought triangle, wherein it clearly states that your thoughts, affect your actions and your feelings causing you to either perform positively or negatively in whatever area you are part of

The good news is, there is a way to combat negative thinking loops. Even better news is that mindfulness and you are the key to controlling these negative thoughts from getting out of hand. 

Technique #1: Distanced Self Talk

In author Ethan Kross’ book Chatter, he discusses a phenomenon called distanced self-talk . Distanced self-talk is the act of speaking to yourself as if you were another person to best asses a situation.  For example in times of danger, a young person named Sam facing a threat can asses the situation by saying: “Okay Sam, what do you do if this person comes any closer?” it’s easier for the brain to think of solutions when we coach others instead of ourselves. To which Sam can reply in his head, “I’ll have to make a run for it after I hit him with my shoe.” 

In the lens of being a remote worker, when faced with a difficult client, you can revert to this technique to avoid an untoward reaction by saying, “Okay, self, how do we respond to this difficult concern?” and then you proceed. 

Technique #2: Count things to distract yourself.

If we have learned anything from mindfulness so far, it’s that it helps you stay in the present. Mindfulness can also help you manage a lot of anxious thoughts, by disrupting them through counting. Place all your focus and attention to mindfully counting things that are well within your reach. The number of pens in your pencil case, the number of beads on your bracelet, how about the letters you are reading now? 

You can even start listing down things that bring you joy to help disrupt the anxious thoughts and keep negativity at bay. 

Technique #3: Turn to familiar and lovely aromas

Aromatherapy helps soothe the mind and keeps negative thoughts at bay by means of association. Simply smelling your favorite comfort food also aids you in this endeavor. If you don’t have a particular favorite Lavender Oil helps in granting a sense of calm when anxious thoughts threaten to invade your mental space.

Technique #4: Get off social media or exercise mindful consumption of online content. 

An array of studies has discussed the depletion of mental health over social media usage. One way to counter this is to simply get off it. Set your phone on silent, delete the apps if you must or simply place your phone away when you feel like you are about to be swamped with so much negative chatter. 

Social media has become a double-edged sword, in one hand you have it as an efficient marketing tool for businesses, in the other, it offers a pernicious and suggestive view of how life unrealistically looks. Now, while some people cannot live without social media, the main essence is to be more mindful about what you consume from it.

Technique #5: Vent to someone who understands

Venting is an act of expressing one’s dissatisfaction over an occurrence, event, or a situation. You may resort to having a therapist, a friend, or a family member in processing whatever negative thought cycles you have. Whoever it may be, be sure to choose people who offer a safe environment for you to share and simply be. 

May is mental health awareness month and at Rocket Station, we place immense value in the mental health of every Rocketeer. This month, we will be tackling topics that delve deeply into mental health for the remote worker and the things we can do to aid in nourishing and caring for one’s mental health.   

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