Anxiety can stem from negative thinking or anxiety, which can relate to circumstances, to others, or to ourselves. One everyday way to reshape our minds is through thinking exercises that may help us see our experiences in a new light. This is more complex than just “positive thinking” and can help us make our unconscious thoughts go in more productive and beneficial directions over time.
Are you ready to try it out? Here’s what you need to know.
What is thought exercise?
Thinking exercises are new ways of thinking about a particular circumstance or experience that can help us break out of stuck or unhelpful thinking. While some intellectual exercises They have been studied extensively by psychological researchers, while others are offered by psychologists and clinical mental health counselors because they have provided help through individual stories to certain types of patients. Thought exercises may be suggested by your therapistwhether they are Online or in person.
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It’s important to keep in mind that there is no one-size-fits-all mindset exercise. Feel free to try one of them out for a few weeks and see if you like the way it affects your mental health and feelings of well-being. If not, you can try a different one. Thought exercises are supposed to be a way to see the world differently, not a medical treatment.
Benefits of thinking exercises for mental health
paraphrasing ideas It is one of the building blocks of cognitive behavioral therapy, which has been shown to be effective in several studies.
- Can practice thinking Help one keep calm During a stressful moment and keep going, to avoid a more severe reaction such as an anxiety attack.
- Thinking exercises can reduce the duration and severity of anxiety symptoms even when .
- when paired Thinking exercises can provide a record of an individual’s growth and changes in mental health.
- Thought exercises can make us more aware of what is worrying us, allowing us to make life adjustments that help us do so. less often.
6 mental exercises that will boost your mental health
The next time you feel stressed, try one of these methods.
Many spiritual traditions involve some form of self-monitoring or Mindfulness exercise, but it is also useful in a completely non-spiritual context. When you begin to experience symptoms that you associate with anxiety, you can use this exercise to be curious and learn more about what you are going through. Heres how to do it:
1. When you feel anxious and have the opportunity to take a few minutes for yourself, do it. Stay away from others so you don’t get interrupted, even if it’s just a few minutes.
2. Start noticing the way each element of your body feels. Do you feel anxious in your shoulders, neck, stomach or head? Do you have other symptoms, such as fatigue or headaches? Don’t judge feelings, just notice them, as if you’re observing a science experiment and need to catch everything.
3. Then turn your subjective observation of your thoughts. what is itCycling on your mind? Try to categorize it instead of letting it confuse you. When you notice one, let go of it, realizing you “heard” it.
4. If you can get to a place where you are fully focused on the physical and mental sensations, you may find yourself able to calm down, doing things like relaxing the muscles you discovered tense or letting the thoughts go instead of holding them too tight. This may take a few tries.
The act of self-observation can be a way to take your mind off worry and back into your body. when we are in fight or flight Situation, anxiety leads us to safety, but if we are physically safe, this could be a way to evaluate our bodies and find the baseline again.
Keep a log of ideas
One way that people better understand symptoms of anxiety is by recording their thoughts. This can be done in a traditional paper journal, but there are other options, especially when it is inconvenient to carry an extra notebook everywhere. Application Thought notes It is a simple interface that allows you to write down your mood and any details about it. It also includes other thought exercises, such as practicing gratitude and thought analysis.
Reviewing your thought history occasionally can help you draw connections, including things like how sleep, exercise, and nutrition affect your anxiety symptoms.
interrupt anxious thinking
anxious thinking Responds better to distraction with a different mission. These techniques are more about what is effectively distracting you and less from the technically “correct” way.
- Try stretching and relaxing different muscles in your body, focusing on muscle activity and seeing if it can help you stop thinking about worrying thoughts.
- With deliberate counting, such as four times in and four out.
- Can play music, audio book or radio show interrupt anxious thoughts And attract your mind to influence something else.
- Say out loud that you’re done thinking this way or verbally Speak affirmations It can help to get out of one’s head and hear a clearer positive voice.
- Choosing a calming and engaging task that is also mentally appealing: word games on your phone, loading the dishwasher, doing yoga or another stretching routine can be effective anxiety interrupts.
- Counting back slowly sometimes interrupts the flow of anxiety.
Use cognitive confusion exercises
Perceptual distortion The exercises are about getting an outside perspective on our thoughts, or strategies that help us detach and look more clearly at our thoughts. They are frequently used in CBT and other types of cognitive therapy.
- Use a silly sound: Some people find it helpful to separate their thoughts with a file silly sound To say something like, “Oh, you think this is very disturbing, right?” Or some other note about thought.
- Leave on stream: Some people use a stretch visualization That their thoughts float in the river, come to them and then go away, as a way of seeing thoughts separate from their primary identity.
- Label your thoughts: Some people find it helpful to select “this is a troubling thought” or “this is a scary thought” because they come across the thoughts, which helps take them out of being an assessment of reality and treat them as discrete elements that are not explicitly believed.
- “Thank you”: When our brain tells us a warning in the form of an anxious thought, we can give it Gratitude for our mind To try to help us and warn us.
Anxiety sometimes manifests as excessive worrying that the person is not good enough or has negative traits. When these thoughts are frequently played with, they can be frustrating and can make daily activities miserable. One way to combat this negative self-talk is Practicing self-compassion. While it may seem strange at first, trying to see your current situation the way you would if a good friend were going through it can be a start. Give yourself the kind of relief you would give a friend, rather than the harsh criticism you often give yourself.
Another exercise in self-compassion is to find a photograph of yourself since childhood. Instead of directing your thoughts toward your adult self, direct them toward that child. Know that your adult self deserves the same kind of comfort as a child, because you, too, are still learning, albeit different things.
worry tree It is a tool developed for those with compulsive or persistent anxiety to help them make an informed decision between worrying or doing something else. It’s a customizable person-to-person flowchart graphic, but basically it starts with asking, “What exactly worries me?” Then “Can I do something about it?” and “Can I do something about it now?” The tree instructs people to let go of their fears when nothing can be done, to make a clear plan if nothing can be done at the moment, and to do something if there is something useful that can be done about the worry at the moment. It can help avoid rumination, as we think about the same anxiety-causing thoughts over and over again without rest.
Read more: 9 ways to relieve anxiety without medication
Thought exercises can seem different from our usual ways of thinking, but if you remain curious, you may find your mind changing, and you test more methods of how to think positively over time. If you find that thinking exercises make your anxiety symptoms worse, you may have ineffective thought exercise yourself, or your anxiety may respond better to treatment from a psychiatrist or counsellor. It is a good idea to talk with a mental health professional to get better answers about your specific situation.
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The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to be health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.