tips & tools to help you feel freaking awesome

Stop a negative thought spiral in 4 easy steps

Introduction: Spot the Swirl

If you’ve ever found yourself in a negative thought spiral, seemingly out of the blue, you’re not alone. It can be tough to get out of that funk. So what do we do when we find ourself in the dreaded negative thinking spiral? With a bit of smart and a little bit of heart, we can get back to living our best life. We definitely do NOT beat ourself up – just start moving in the right direction.

Recognizing a potential spiral – or the middle or even the end of one – is the first step to escaping a negative thinking spiral. And, we can do something in the exact moment we recognize the pattern. 

Restart concept, top view on woman's feet symbolizing the need to stop negative thinking spiral and reboot one's mindset

THe Mini Reset: Stop the Spiral

I’m sharing one of my go-to techniques for stopping negative thinking spirals. It’s 4 simple steps that we can do just about any time or place. It’s easy and effective and I call it a “Mini Reset.”

Photo of woman looking at her ipad for representing reading instructions for step 1 of stopping a negative thought spiral

Step 1: Ready

It's kind of weird to start with step one since i just mentioned that stopping a spiral started with recognition when one is about to or already is happening. That was just prep or a cue to activate the mini reset,

The first step to the reset, is to get ready to switch gears in order to refocus your attention and intention on your reset process. You can go to a different location, change physical position or just take a moment to mentally shut down the browser tabs in your mind.

woman using gold iPad which represents the 2nd step for stopping a negative thught spiral - finding a writing or recording tool to capture your thoughts

Step 2: Set

Take out some paper or open your favorite note-taking or voice memo app so you have a way to get those negative thoughts OUT of your head and into another place and format.
To get the most out of your mini reset, give yourself some added structure, too, by setting a timer for at least 10 minutes.

Restart concept, top view on woman's feet symbolizing the need to stop negative thinking spiral and reboot one's mindset

Step 3: Go

Focus on responding to one or two of these questions until the timer goes off.
1. What am I really feeling?
2. What is the evidence that this thought is true?
3. Would I think like this if my loved one was dealing with this issue now?
4. When has something similar happened before and what did I do then? How can I apply those lessons now?

happy african or american woman dancing and vibing alone with her phone in her hand

Step 4: Finish Line

🏁🏁 And just like that, you're done.
🌟🎉 Awesome! You did something good for YOU. A true act of self-care.
Well done, Dah-ling. Do a happy dance to celebrate - in person is best if you ask me, but on the dance floor of your mind is also a perfectly good option.

old fashioned kitchen timer to represent the amount of time you need

Bonus Round

After you've had a second to enjoy your well-deserved sense of accomplishment, ask yourself, "Do I want more oomph to fuel this reset?" If so, take another 5 minutes or so to reflect on your answers for some added insight and inspiration. Otherwise, hit the reset button to resume your day with an open heart and open mind.

Final Musings on the Negative Thought Spiral Mini Reset

That’s it. The 4-step Mini Reset. It’s a simple strategy you can use at any time. Combine it with other methods you know work for you, or use it solo. There are all sorts of ways this technique can support your journey.

Thought spirals can be tough to break free from, but with a bit of self-acceptance and some honest reflection on your negative emotions, you can get back on track. Taking the time for a mental reset – even just 10 minutes – can help you get started. Use questions like those provided to help you explore your thoughts and feelings honestly, so that you can start moving in the right direction. Remember that you’ve got this – and don’t forget to give yourself a pat on the back for taking care of yourself!

Hot tip: Keep the document you just made for your Mini Reset somewhere handy. That way you can pull it out when you want to stop a future negative thinking spiral and need to reset your day. Save it. Screenshot it. Take a photo with your phone. Just anything that will make it handy.  

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