5 Ways to Stop Dwelling on Negative ThoughtsNone By Amanda MacMillan
When something's bothering you, you know that getting your mind off of it is easier said than done. In fact, research shows that when people are instructed not to think about a specific topic, it makes it even harder to get that topic out of their minds. But rehashing negative thoughts over and over in your head, also known as rumination, can be unpleasant and counterproductive—and in some cases, it can even lead to chronic depression.
"It's like a needle in a groove," says Guy Winch, Ph.D., psychologist and author of Emotional First Aid: Practical Strategies for Treating Failure, Rejection, Guilt and Other Everyday Psychological Injuries. "As the groove gets deeper and deeper, the needle has a harder time getting out of the groove." What's more, rumination can actually make you more angry or upset than you were originally, because the issue becomes magnified in your mind.
Luckily, there are a few techniques that can help you stop dwelling on negative thoughts and refocus your mind on something positive, says Winch; it just takes a bit of distraction and a healthy dose of willpower.
Go Shopping in Your Mind
One distraction trick Winch recommends is to visualize yourself in the grocery store. "Try to picture all of the items on one shelf in the store, and the order that you see them in," he says. Don't do a lot of food shopping? Think about something else that requires concentration: the order of books on yo