10 Tips To Stop Spiraling: Break Negative Thinking

breaking negative thinking

Have you ever felt your thoughts spin out of control?

One negative thought leads to another and before you know it, you feel completely overwhelmed. You’re not the only one.

Learning techniques to manage negative thinking can help anyone break free from the downward spiral.

Understanding Spiraling Negative Thoughts

Spiraling refers to uncontrolled cycles of negative thoughts that intensify, potentially leading to anxiety or depression. Common triggers include stressful events, work overload, relationship issues, and social media. Recognizing your personal triggers is the first step in stopping the spiral.

Why Do Our Thoughts Spiral Out of Control?

  • Our brains focus on threats and negative experiences to survive. This negative bias causes us to dwell on the bad.
  • Worrying thoughts release cortisol and adrenaline, the fight-or-flight hormones. This fuels anxiety and more negative thinking.
  • We fall into cognitive distortions like catastrophizing or black-and-white thinking that exacerbate the negativity.
  • The spiral becomes a bad habit that the brain automatically defaults to without conscious effort.

10 Tools You Can Use Right Now to Stop a Downward Spiral

If you feel yourself going down a negative spiral, try these proven ways to stop the cycle and take control again.


1. Practice Mindfulness

Staying in the now without getting lost in past or future worries trains us in mindfulness.

Meditation, breathing exercises, observing sensations, and other practices strengthen mindfulness skills.

2. Get Moving

Exercise and movement stimulate the release of endorphins which boost mood. Even a short burst of activity can provide relief from a downward spiral.

3. Immerse Yourself in a Hobby

Engaging in an enjoyable hobby directs your attention away from negative thoughts. Learning new skills also builds a sense of purpose and achievement.

4. Write It Out

Putting feelings down on paper allows us to organize and process them instead of repeatedly mulling them over. Keeping a journal can provide perspective.

5. Practice Gratitude

Make a habit of purposefully focusing on the positive by writing down things you appreciate. This counteracts the brain’s negativity bias.

6. Take Time for Self-Care

Be compassionate with yourself and prioritize relaxing activities like a warm bath, reading, or time in nature. Treat yourself kindly.

7. Talk It Out

Verbalizing feelings can help defuse their intensity. Confide in a trusted friend or family member.

8. Challenge Thought Distortions

Reflect honestly on your automatic negative thoughts. Are they overblown or irrational? Try rethinking them.

9. Limit Exposure to Stressors

Reduce activities that trigger unhealthy spiraling such as excessive social media use or news consumption.

10. Maintain Healthy Daily Routines

The right rest, food, and routines make dealing with stress easier so negative thinking happens less.

When to Seek Help for Uncontrollable Negative Thoughts

If trying to stop negative spirals doesn’t work, see a mental health pro.

Therapy can equip you with skills to disrupt unhealthy thinking patterns and process emotions in a healthy way. Don’t hesitate to find support.

Take Back Control of Your Outlook

With practice, it’s possible to stop negative spiraling in its tracks and rewire your brain’s tendencies. Experiment with the different techniques to determine what works for you.

The simple act of recognizing unhealthy thought patterns is the first step toward positive change.

To break free from the downward spiral, make an appointment with Dr. Benejam at (561) 376-9699 / (305) 981-6434 for help fit for you.