Exercises to Stop Negative Thoughts (+Printable Journal Templates)

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There’s always a worse-case scenario that we play in our heads:

  1. I won’t be able to pay my rent
  2. My family might be giving me a silent treatment
  3. I can’t even figure this out
  4. Life feels meaningless. Why even try?

After blogging on the whole list of negative thoughts people overthink—I’m convinced that many of us struggle to get rid of them daily. While not all negative thoughts are bad (you don’t have to get rid of all of them), some can really interfere with your everyday wellbeing in the following ways:

  1. Constant self-criticism leading to anxiety.
  2. Fear and uncertainty.
  3. Increased misunderstandings.
  4. Dwelling in negative thoughts instead of enjoying negative thoughts.
  5. Relying on unhealthy coping mechanisms like overeating or anger.

So the question is—How to stop negative thoughts, really?

Many of us want to get better at tackling their daily negative thoughts. This is why I enjoy creating worksheets and exercises to stop negative thoughts with a structure that works best for you.

In the blog you’ll find:

  1. Brain Dump Printable
  2. Negative Thoughts Record Chart
  3. Not-So-Helpful Negative Thoughts Exercise
  4. Replace Negative Thoughts
  5. Questions to Challenge Negative Thoughts
  6. Worry Circle

Brain Dump Printable

Brain Dump Printable
Brain Dump Printable: Download Free

This brain-dump printable worksheet has six categories—family, work, finances, health, social, and personal—each covering specific aspects of your life. 

Printable Brain Dump

I’d often pick this one when I’m struggling to make sense of my negative thoughts. This printable helps categorise it and identify which aspect of my life should I prioritise first. Which aspect requires less of my attention, and which one needs more attention. 

How to use this worksheet?

Jot down any negative thoughts that come to your mind without judgement. List them in their respective categories. Remember, the goal is to be aware of all the thoughts that occur in your head, so that we can prioritise, attend, and reframe the most important ones. 

To get started, you can ask yourself questions like:

  • What priorities stand out after reviewing the brain dump?
  • Which items in this brain-dump align with my short-term goals?
  • Are there any items that require immediate attention?
  • Which items align with my long-term goals?
  • What coping mechanisms can I use for each category? How are they different from one another?
  • What self-care practices will be helpful to the categories that I should be prioritizing?

Negative Thoughts Record Chart

Thought Record Worksheet
Negative Thoughts Record Chart: Download Free
Negative Thoughts Record
Recording my negative thoughts in the chart
Thought record worksheet to track negative thoughts

A negative thoughts chart helps you recognize:

  1. Whether you’re engaging in negative thoughts.
  2. To what extent? 
  3. Check what percentage of it can be put under the “truth.”
  4. Identify thoughts that are more irrational than the other. 
  5. Negative thoughts before they get the good out of them.
  6. New ways to look at the distressing situation (replacing inaccurate thoughts). 

How to use this worksheet?

All you have to do is place the category of your life—whether work, finances, or social—in the first column. Then record negative thoughts as they occur. Make sure to be specific in terms of situation and thoughts. Examine each negative thought and give a label to those thoughts. For example: “An angry thought,” “Curious thought,” and so on. 

This allows you to observe your thought and seperate it from defining your reality. When you’ve filled through the worksheet, you can assess patterns and identify specific areas that require more attention. Please ensure that the goal of this worksheet is not to get you to change your negative thoughts. Rather, identify its frequency and patterns, and find new ways to look at the situation.

Find Negative Thoughts Record, Worry Circle, and More in My Self Care Journal. Check it here.

Not-So-Helpful Negative Thoughts Exercise

Challenge Unhelpful Negative thoughts
Challenge Not-So-Helpful Negative Thoughts: Free Download
Challenge Negative Thoughts Worksheet
Printable Self Care Planner: Challenge Not-So-Helpful Thoughts

This worksheet encourages you to separate helpful thoughts from the unhelpful ones. Meaning, you have more helpful ones to hold on to, than struggling to let go of the unhelpful ones. 

We all create a to-do list when we have a whole week to look forward to. But have you ever created a not-to-do list? Or say, a declutter list? Just like that, the not-so-helpful thoughts worksheet helps you keep away negative thoughts that are unnecessary to attend. 

Consider a brief cost-benefit analysis of your negative thoughts:

  1. Are the long-term effects harming me more than doing any good? 
  2. How does it cost me emotionally? 
  3. What does my day look like upon dwelling on that negative thought? 
  4. How does it limit my abilities? 
  5. How does it keep me from generating alternative options to this situation? 

Not all of your negative thoughts have to be welcomed or entertained for the cost-benefit analysis that you just performed above. This is why—we need a “not-so-helpful” or “not-needed-right-now” list for our negative thoughts too. 

How to use this worksheet?

This worksheet has six categories to seperate your not-so-helpful negative thoughts in the following way.

  • Thoughts that distract me.
  • Thoughts that make me feel anxious or stressed.
  • Thoughts that aren’t helpful in problem solving.
  • Thoughts that I enjoy overthinking about but shouldn’t.
  • Thoughts that actually don’t need my attention.
  • Thoughts that aren’t my responsibility.

Dump your not-so-helpful-thoughts as per the category. This worksheet is best when you want to remind yourself that your negative thought patterns aren’t really helpful in coping with a distressing situation, as well as find new ways of looking at it. 

Replace Negative Thoughts

Replace Negative Thoughts Worksheet
Replace Negative Thoughts Worksheet: Download Free
Replace Negative Thoughts Worksheet

As goes with the universal suggestions—“Try to replace your negative thoughts,” it’s not that easy to switch your head into entertaining new thoughts otherwise. However, the logic behind replacing your negative thoughts is that you must seek new evidence, new experience, new reasons—to believe that your current negative thought may not be as valid to hold on to. Only then will you want to entertain an alternative thought. 

How to Use this Worksheet?

Start by writing down negative thoughts (including your self-critic statements) in the first column of the worksheet. Against each thought, mentioned positive experiences collected. 

You could fill up the ‘experienced collected’ section by asking yourself the following questions:

  1. “Are there any instances where I handled similar situations positively?”
  2. “How did I handle a comparable challenge before?”
  3. “What strengths did I demonstrate in the past?”
  4. “What evidence contradicts my negative thoughts?”
  5. “What positive feedback or recognition have I received previously?”
  6. “Can I recall instances where things turned out better than expected?”

Upon answering these questions—consider an alternative thought to help reduce your distress and cope with the present situation effectively. 

Questions to Challenge Negative Thoughts

Questions to Challenge Negative Thoughts
Questions to Challenge Negative Thoughts: Download Free
Questions to Stop Negative Thoughts

Some of my readers and clients rather just love to have a whole list of questions they could ask themselves to replace their negative thoughts (we all love to keep things handy, just in case). So here we are. 

This worksheet helps you investigate your negative thoughts thoroughly:
1. “Am I expecting a negative outcome out of any situation here?”
2. “Am I ignoring the good sides of this situation?”
3. “Am I considering myself the sole problem here?”
4. “Am I convinced that things will go wrong?”

How to use this worksheet?

Simply go through a list of questions from the worksheet and check in with the ones that best resonate with you. Additionally, you may also use this worksheet with any other worksheets you see in this blog. 

For example, use this worksheet along with the not-so-helpful worksheet to recognize and dump in your negative thoughts. The goal of this activity is to help identify your negative thought patterns and prompt you towards new action, feeling, or thought patterns.

Worry Circle

Worry Chart
Worry Chart: Free Download
Worry Chart
Recording my worries in the worry circle.
Worry Chart Printable

This is the best tool to use if you’re a constant worrier like me. This circle helps you seperate things that you should be worrying about from things you should not. 

How to use this worksheet?

Set a worry time aside everyday and take out this worry circle. Ask yourself if the thing that you’re worrying about is something that you can’t control but worry about. List them down on the left side of the circle.

For example:

  • How others judge you.
  • Your past mistakes.
  • Choices of friends, family, or colleagues.
  • How others react to you.
  • Others’ expectatons.

The goal is to separate it from things that you worry about and can control. 

Some of the things you can control are:

  • The way you prioritize your well-being (your self-care routines, and healthy habits).
  • Taking intentional steps to grow.
  • Improving how you express yourself to others.
  • Establishing clear boundaries.
  • Making decisions based on values.
Worry chart
Brain Dump Printable
Worry Chart
Negative Thoughts Record

Did you enjoy my worksheets so far? Let me know how you’ve found them. Drop a comment or message and I’ll be over the moon to get back to you 🙂

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