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Throughout the past year, the pandemic has isolated many of us, and in doing so has increased the anxiety, stress, and depression that many of us feel. It can be a dark and repetitive cycle, where these mental illnesses can perpetuate negative thoughts, which in turn can worsen your mental health. While allowing this spiral to continue may feel like the easier option, it can only stand to make your mental health worse longterm. But, there are ways to train yourself to think more positively.

We all have negative thoughts. There is no way around that. One thing we can do, though, is change how often we have these thoughts, how we react to them, and acknowledge why we are having them. Pay attention to when these types of thoughts occur. Once you recognize what situations these negative thought patterns are occurring in, try to think about what you specifically want to change about your thought process, and then work on changing your behavior in that situation to reach your goal.

A good way to keep track of your negative thoughts and work on actively changing them into positive ones is by writing them down. When you write your thoughts down, you are able to make sense of your thought patterns easier, which allows you to move forward instead of dwelling on them or allowing them to control your mood. Recognize that you are in control of how long a thought stays in your head and whether or not you let your negative thoughts turn into a negative mindset.

There are also ways to increase the amount of positive thoughts you have, instead of just trying to control the negative ones. You can actively make an effort to find things throughout your day that you can appreciate. Establish new habits that allow you to feel good about yourself and act as a healthy outlet, such as exercising, painting, and writing. Keeping a journal can also be beneficial, since it allows you to write down your negative thoughts like previously mentioned, but you can also use it to write down positive affirmations daily. By actively writing down positive affirmations every day, you are controlling what you think about, increasing the empowerment that you feel, and enforcing a positive mindset. On top of everything, focus on positive self-talk. If you wouldn’t say one of your negative comments about yourself to someone else, then you shouldn’t say it to yourself either.

By increasing the amount of positive thoughts, affirmations, and beneficial habits that you actively work on, this type of thinking will gradually become easier and easier. It makes it easier to be optimistic about yourself and the world around you, and it will help you be able to better handle stressful or negative situations in a more constructive way. This increase in positive thinking can also create health benefits for you, such as a better immune system, an increased lifespan, lower rates of depression, and will altogether give you better coping skills. While practicing positive thinking, remember that the changes in your thought process may not change overnight, but the amount of work you put into being kinder to yourself and others will pay off.

– Haidyn Emmerich
Nourish Your Mind Blog Contributor
Neuroscience & Psychology Student – Syracuse University
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