2. Practice healthy thinking
Good mental health does not mean that we only ever have happy thoughts. Sad or upsetting things are part of life. Problems are also part of life. Good mental health means looking at the situation for what it really is.
Watch for thinking traps
The way we think about something has a big effect on the way we feel. If we feel like we can handle a problem, we often feel good. If we do not think that we can handle a problem, we often feel bad.
Sometimes, we think that something is bad, even when it is not true. These thoughts are sometimes called “thinking traps.” They are traps because they are easy to fall into and can get us stuck and feeling bad.
Here are some common thinking traps:
- Thinking that bad things always happen to you. “I wanted to go to the beach, but now it is raining. This always happens to me! Now my day is ruined!”
- Thinking that something can only be all good or all bad. “I did not do as well as I wanted on that last test. I am not smart enough for this course.”
- Focusing only on the negative part of a situation. “My team won, but I cannot believe I missed that shot. I must be very bad at soccer. Maybe I should stop playing.”
- Jumping to conclusions before you know what really happened. “My friend did not call me back. She must not like me very much.”
You can challenge your thinking trap by looking at the facts. The next time you notice yourself falling into a thinking trap, ask yourself questions to find the facts. Here are some questions to ask:
- Is there any proof to back up this thought?
- Have I thought about all sides of the situation? Is there anything I missed?
- Have I been in this position before? What happened then?
- If my friend was in the same situation, what would I say?
Once you have looked at the facts, you can replace the thinking trap thought with a more balanced thought.