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We are always thinking but we don’t always pay attention to the stuff running through our minds. Thoughts can be really powerful things. They can be really helpful. However, they can also be really unhelpful and can have a negative impact on our feelings and wellbeing. But…thoughts are thoughts, they are NOT facts. Perhaps it is time to take more control over what goes on in your mind?
Try It at Home
If your device doesn’t support the activity above or you just want to try some other ways of managing your distressing thoughts then you could try these things.
Put your thoughts on trial
Keep track of thoughts that you get that change your mood. You could do this by keeping a diary that you fill in each time you notice a change in your mood. Try to identify what you were thinking just before your mood changed. If you notice a pattern of the type of thought you get then it could be worth putting those thoughts to the test in this Cognitive Behavioural Therapy technique. With a particular thought written down ask yourself:
- What evidence is there that supports this thought? (Remember thoughts aren’t facts)
- What evidence is there that challenges this thought?
- What would your bezzie or parent/carer say if they heard you thinking this?
- What alternative, more helpful ways of thinking about this are there?
Take the edge of the thoughts
Sometimes when you are having distressing thoughts it is important to remind yourself that they are just thoughts. Try placing the phrase ‘I’m having a thought that…’ in front of your distressing thoughts.
Bin ’em off
Try writing your distressing thoughts down and then scrumpling up the paper and lobbing them in the bin.
Get your thoughts in order
Sometimes it is useful to remind yourself that thoughts come and go all of the time. Mindfulness is a really great way to begin to manage your thoughts differently and decide which ones to pay attention to. Try this exercise for a start:
- Set a timer for a short period of time (30 secs to a minute should do). If you don’t have a timer then don’t worry, just do the exercise for as long as you want to
- Close your eyes and just begin to notice your thoughts. Don’t judge them, chase them or get to bothered about if you are doing the exercise right or wrong…it’s just an exercise
- As you notice thoughts running through your mind put a label on each one before you let it go
- Thought about the past
- Thought about the here-and-now
- Thought about the future
- Continue doing this until your time is up.
This is a task that you could practice regularly to improve your ability to notice thoughts and let them drift on by. You could also try to label thoughts as ‘helpful‘, ‘unhelpful‘ or ‘neutral‘ as a variation on the exercise.