Do  yourself   favor and write down your negative thoughts .

As a mental health writer, I am in constant contact with therapists, counselors, and psychologists.

And sometimes the same advice comes up enough times that you end up having to say, “Okay, I think this is important.” Most of the time, these great tips are incredibly simple. A concrete example? Keep track of your negative thoughts. Experts recommended this little practice to me for articles on Emotional Regulation, Anxiety Management, Mindfulness, Self Care, Boosting Self Awareness, and more thought it was time to devote a full article to it.

If you are anything like me, you might think that at some point you will be completely in tune with your own thoughts. As if these were your thoughts. But the process of translating the hazy cloud of words and feelings floating in your head into solid, concise statements can be instructive for a number of reasons. First, many of us have a habit of taking our thoughts at face value, which can negatively affect our mental health as our thoughts, especially the negative ones, are often skewed and need further study. .

The next time you have a negative thought, from a specific fear (My friend hates me because she didn’t respond to my text!) To vague emotions (I feel so bad about myself today!), stop and ask, What am I thinking? Then write it down, whether it’s a notebook, a random Word document, or a dedicated app. Here are a few reasons:

Writing down your thoughts will help you identify patterns.

As I mentioned earlier, just because we think about it is easy to assume that a thought is automatically true or important, but our thoughts can often be twisted. “A thought is like sunglasses,” Regine Galanti, Ph.D., a registered clinical psychologist and founder of Long Island Behavioral, once told me.

If you look at the world with sunglasses, it looks a little different.

Because we are sensitive to “cognitive distortions” or mental traps, many of us fall under this influence in the way we interpret our thoughts and experiences. It can seem overwhelming to see them written down, but if you’ve ever had thoughts like this, you know how real they feel in the moment.

Even if you don’t have a thorough understanding of all official cognitive biases, you can still begin to spot patterns in your thinking and specific triggers. For example, you may find that you often speculate about things that are out of your control, or that you feel bad about comparing yourself to others. Anything you learn will surely help you correct and reject distorted thoughts.

It also helps you feel better about yourself.

Many mental health exercises for dealing with strong or difficult thoughts or emotions start with awareness – you need to know what you are working with. Specificity is the key. Ryan Howes, Ph.D., clinical psychologist, once told me, “One of the major difficulties right now is that with all the emotions people go through, it can be difficult to figure out what is going on. Past.”

After you’ve named a thought, you can do the important research: ask where the thought came from, think about what might be influencing it, ask if it’s true and useful, and much more. Sometimes it’s a very quick and easy process to realize, “Oh, I think the person I’m dating is ignoring my texts because they hates me even though I know they are busy at work. or hey, that was a really irritated thought for no good reason: I must be hungry.

Writing down is also therapeutic in itself.

It has to do with pushing a complicated thought out of your head onto a piece of paper (or a screen) that gives you some relief. For one thing, it can often be worse to avoid a thought instead of addressing it directly, Galanti once told me. Recognizing and writing down can bring relief. Especially when you are someone who keeps things piling up in your head until you feel overwhelmed and sick and you don’t even know why.

Writing them down will also help you make it clear how exaggerated, irrational, stupid, or wrong your thoughts can be. It’s not to say that your feelings and concerns are not valid, but writing can help you step back and feel better. For example,

I was recently on a spiral of fear for my health and when it came time to say physically, “I’m going crazy because I could get cancer from exactly one symptom that I have. Learned by being in.” a google hole falls. “” I could only laugh at myself. Yes my fear is real, but it’s a dramatic slut too. Both can be true, which can be heartwarming to see.

Overall, I think when it comes to trying new self-governance practices and new coping mechanisms, I think almost anything is worth trying. Not everything will work for you, but neither can you tell if something will work for you until you try.

If you are someone like many of us who is currently feeling overwhelmed by anxious, sad, angry, overwhelmed, terrified, and disturbing thoughts, maybe give it a try. We need all the tools we can get right now.

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