To say this year has been challenging might be the understatement of the century. Do you know how to stop negative thoughts when they occur?
This pandemic has made our lives anything but ordinary.
Everything is different. We’re all doing everything we can to keep going.
But, that’s exactly why I feel compelled to ask, “Have you given any thought as to whether your thoughts are hampering your serving or caregiving efforts?”
Even though we’re trying to keep things ‘the same as possible,’ some days are downright discouraging.
But, being a person who loves to serve and care for others, we have to prevail!
Therefore, we must be vigilant about preventing our negative thoughts from interfering with our self-esteem and self-care activities.
Negative Thoughts Affect Us
Negative thoughts affect how we think and feel about ourselves and how we carry out our caregiving and serving efforts.
It’s difficult to take care of others when we don’t feel well.
Negative attitudes and feelings of helplessness and hopelessness can create chronic stress. Stress upsets the body’s hormone balance, depletes the brain chemicals required for happiness, and damages our immune system. (1)
How to Stop From Negative Thoughts
The good news is there are things we can do to keep our thoughts in check.
While easier said than done, getting enough sleep can be one of the most effective ways to keep thoughts positive.
I jokingly tell my husband, “As a faith writer, every morning I’m excited to start writing, but every night I go to bed telling myself how my writing is a waste of time.”
Fatigue over-shadows and sometimes darkens the validity and truth of what we’re doing for the Lord.
It’s more than just getting enough sleep. It’s knowing when to shut off the news and research, or learning when to take a short break.
And, it’s knowing when to take care of ourselves, when to pray, and when to rest.
What we eat has a lot to do with how we feel. Unfortunately, when we’re bombarded with negative thoughts, our food choices plummet.
Healthy habits can help us through the good times and the bad.
Do the following to keep your brain and body well-fed:
- Create and follow a healthy meal plan.
- Use a grocery list.
- Have ingredients on hand for easy-to-make dinners (tacos, omelets, tuna salad), to eat healthy when you don’t feel like cooking.
- Cook double the amount needed and freeze them as healthy entrees for more demanding days.
Address Stressors and Stress
Having stressors isn’t healthy. We should work to remove as many stressors as possible.
The thing is, it’s impossible to remove all of them. So, we’re always going to have some sources of stress.
According to the authors of the book Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle, the danger isn’t having the stress – it’s not addressing the stress we carry.
“The most successful way to manage stress is to be active.”
Spend 30 minutes every day, working through the stress from your day.
- Go for a walk
- Lift weights
- Play with your kids
Just do something!
How to Overcome Negative Thoughts
We can’t always prevent negative thoughts: however, reading Scripture can be a powerful tool for how to stop negative thoughts when they occur.
“My Work Isn’t Needed.”
It’s easy to think that our work isn’t necessary or making a difference-especially if we start to feel overwhelmed.
But the truth is, the enemy would love for us to believe our work isn’t required – but that’s a lie. Not only is our work vital – it IS making a difference!
One way how to stop negative thoughts is to remember: you have an art about doing your job, and you have a team that counts on you to do your tasks exactly the way you do it. You are part of a whole. You’re not alone!
1 Corinthians 12:15-16 reminds us of this when we read, “If the foot says, ‘I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,’ that does not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear says, ‘I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,’ would that make it any less a part of the body?” (NLT).
“My Work Isn’t Good Enough.”
Negative thoughts can also drive us to compare ourselves to others. But nothing good comes from comparing ourselves – or our service – to anyone else.
Remember: you’re intentionally given talents different from others!
Galatians 6:4 reminds us to “Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.” (NLT).
“I Can’t Stop for Self-care.”
Negative thoughts can trick us into thinking we have to be super hero’s. But that’s not how God made us!
Our bodies require rest and good nutrition – among other things. God created us this way – we must take care of ourselves.
When we feel like we can’t or shouldn’t stop to take care of ourselves (for whatever reason) one strategy we can use is to do our self-care as a way to honor and worship the Lord.
Romans 12: 1 tells us, “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.” (NLT).
In closing, I’m guessing if we were chatting over coffee, you’d tell me that you know how helpful Scripture can be to get us through when we’re overwhelmed.
My prayer is that if you have a bad day, you can capture your thoughts (2 Cor. 10:5) and pray through these Scriptures to place positive – and truthful – thoughts back into your mind to carry you through the rest of the day.
Learn how to use your faith to find the time and motivation to take better care of yourself and meet your goals!
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