Tips for Challenging Negative Thinking with Depression

Having depression often means thinking negatively about everything, including how you see yourself, things you see and hear about, doing things you normally enjoy doing, and your thoughts about the future.

Contrary to popular belief, you can’t just will yourself to “snap out of it” or “think positive.” Thinking happy thoughts or dwelling on wishful thinking won’t work either. Instead, the key is to focus on finding balance between positive and negative thoughts.

Here’s how to do that.

Tips for Challenging Negative Thinking with Depression

Put yourself in someone else’s shoes

Whenever you think negative thoughts about yourself, ask yourself if you can say the same thing to others. If not, you’re being too hard on yourself. True, everyone has a bad side that needs improvement, so focus instead on realistic descriptions of yourself instead of being too harsh.

Don’t worry about being perfect

Nobody is. People suffering from depression are often perfectionists, holding themselves to unreasonably high standards and criticizing themselves when they fail to meet their own expectations. You don’t need to impose this kind of stress on your mind and body. Stop worrying about being perfect and let it go.

Be around positive people

While there’s not much you can do about erasing your negative thoughts, what you can do is be around positive people. These are the types who tend to look at the bright side, even with faced with small challenges that normally annoy the rest of us, like being stuck in traffic.

Just being around them can be enough to get in a good mood. Positivity has a way of rubbing off, so try to adopt their persistence and optimism, even if it means pretending.

Keep track of your negative thoughts

Keep track of your negative thoughts by putting them down on a log—it can be on a journal or your phone. Take note of the negative thought and its trigger. Doing so allows you to evaluate your thoughts and determine whether there’s another way of looking at the situation. This also helps you realize that some negative thoughts aren’t necessary.