Strategies to help control thinking include recognizing and stopping negative thoughts, replacing negative thoughts with positive ones, saving negative thoughts to share with a trusted friend and using relaxation techniques. These techniques can be used individually or in combination with one another.
Simply stopping a thought may seem obvious, but this technique should not be underestimated. The mind can often be carried away in a succession of interlinked thoughts, but an interruption can help break free of this. A firm mental command to stop can jolt the thought process and offer a chance to take control of negative or anxious thoughts. A self-command to stop negative thinking can also offer the chance to make use of other thought control strategies.
Once a negative thought has been recognized and halted, it can be swapped for a positive one. Motivational coach Frederique Murphy recommends doubling down on positive thoughts and swapping out two positives for one negative. Keep a running list of healthy, constructive thoughts to call on when unpleasant thinking begins. Pushing negative thoughts aside can be helpful, but these thoughts often have some validity, so it's important not to disregard them entirely. Instead, put them aside and discuss them later with a trusted friend or family member.
Stress relief techniques such as meditation, listening to a relaxation CD, enjoying soothing music or employing guided visualization can also help bring mental calmness and greater control over thoughts.