10 Steps to control your negative emotions and change your negative attitude
Feeling emotion is part of being human. Although you have to feel negative emotions sometimes, you don’t have to allow them control of your life. Learn how to cope with negative emotions in the moment by refocusing your attention and getting out of your head. Train yourself to break negative thinking patterns to improve your mood long-term. Finally, learn a few techniques to help you accept and understand negative emotions when they occur.
1. Do an intense physical activity.
Releasing negative emotions can be done just as effectively with your body as with your mind. If you are hung up on bad vibes, take a timeout and get active. Exercise is naturally good for you at any time. Right now, however, it can provide an outlet for negative feelings and promote a more positive mood state through the generation of feel-good chemicals, called endorphins.
2. Take a nap.
Being chronically stressed by negative emotions can place your body in “fight or flight” mode, in which you are primed for action around-the-clock. If you have been fighting negative feelings for some time, you may be racking your brain about what to do or thinking nonstop about what is going wrong. Doing this for a prolonged period of time can cause mental fatigue. Fatigue can worsen negative emotions or hinder your ability to cope with them in a positive way. Taking a nap can reduce stress by allowing your brain and body to rest and reset.
3. Use creativity.
Another way to release negative emotions is through artistic pursuits. With art, you can get out of your head temporarily and channel those feelings into a positive activity. Make a sculpture. Develop a fictional story. Grab some paints, crayons, or markers and create a picture. Direct your feelings into the lyrics of a new song. Turn on some music and express your feelings through dance.
4. Spend time with close family or friends.
A great way to get out of your head when you’re bothered by negative emotions is to hang with people who care about you. Friends and family who are understanding and supportive can help you to cope with and resolve painful feelings. Negative emotions are a necessary part of life, and they often allow us to grow and become stronger. Still, that doesn’t mean you have to carry the burden on your own.
5. Avoid dwelling on your problems.
Sometimes, when you feel bad, you may think about an upsetting situation over and over again, a concept referred to as rumination. Perhaps you tell yourself that you are trying to understand it better. Nevertheless, all this does is make you feel worse. Try not to blow things out of proportion by constantly dwelling on your negative feelings. If you find yourself ruminating, try one of the following techniques.
6. Challenge negative and irrational thinking.
The way you view certain circumstances can have a huge impact on your emotional state. It’s easy to fall into the trap of irrational or catastrophic thinking. Take a moment to think about how you are reacting to a situation, and try to identify and challenge irrational thoughts or beliefs that may be affecting your mood.
7. Replace negative thoughts with more realistic ones.
Frequently, you may feel trapped in negative mood states due to the words you are repeating in your head. Changing your self-talk, therefore, can also change the way you feel. The next time you notice one of those negative self-talk “tapes” playing in your head, make a conscious effort to replace the negative thought with something more realistic and hopeful.
8. Explore your feelings through mindful meditation.
Mindful meditation is a technique that allows you to focus on the moment and become more aware of what you are feeling. Take a few minutes to sit in a quiet, comfortable place. Close your eyes and breathe deeply, allowing yourself to feel and acknowledge your emotions and bodily sensations. Don’t judge or analyze what you feel—simply make note of it and let it be.
9. Tune in to your physical feelings and their relation to your emotions.
Learning to identify your emotions is central to gaining acceptance of them. When you are experiencing an emotion, physical and mental responses may come along with it. For example, fear may come with heightened sensations in your face and arms, in addition to shortness of breath and clenched muscles. Happiness may come with electric tingles that radiate throughout the body in addition to a feeling of lightness or buoyancy. You can learn how to identify these emotions by tuning in to your body through meditation.
10. Perform a letting go ritual.
It can be incredibly therapeutic to release negative emotions by engaging in symbolic rituals. Such actions give a tangible, physical presence to intangible, emotional experiences. There are many ways you can release emotion through ritual.