Monthly Archives: July 2018

6 Questions To Challenge Negative Anxious Thoughts

Blog banner 6 Questions To Challenge Negative Anxious Thoughts

Our brains are wired to look for danger and threats; it's a remnant from our caveman days. Luckily for us we no longer have to contend with Sabre-Tooth Tigers or the odd T-Rex, which is why it's important to know how to challenge negative anxious thoughts.

We can certainly relate to getting wrapped up in negative thought patterns. Are you someone who experiences them on a regular basis? Do you find that you can start off with a seemingly small negative thought about a situation, and it quickly spirals out of control into something resembling a disaster movie? We've been there too.

Unhelpful thinking patterns

There are a number of unhelpful thinking patterns which people may use when faced with certain situations. Different people may use different thinking patterns, but from our experience here are the more common ones:

Predicting the future

If you're worried about something, you may spend a lot of time running it round in your mind. You can end up thinking about the future and predicting what you think is going to happen, and often you believe it'll be a negative outcome. For example, "If I don't get this report done I'll lose my job".

Jumping to conclusions

This thinking pattern might also be known as 'mind reading'.  You assume you know what someone else is thinking. You might make assumptions about why a person says or does certain things, and you may wrongly assume that you're the focus of what other people say/do. One example might be "My friend hasn't rung me back, so she must be angry with me".

Focusing on the negative

You may dismiss the positive aspects of situations and/or relationships and focus only on the negatives. This could lead to you losing your self-confidence or even avoiding certain situations or people. So you might beat yourself up over an activity you're not very good at, whilst dismissing all the skills you do have.

Black and white thinking

You might think in 'all or nothing' terms. So, something is either "all good" or "all bad", but when you think like this you potentially miss all the grey areas in-between. You may be overly-critical of yourself or others, when what's often needed is some self-compassion and empathy towards the situations of others.


With this thinking pattern you might have a negative experience, but then label all future events as being negative as well. For example, you fail an exam so you then believe that you'll fail at everything else you do.

6 Questions to challenge negative anxious thoughts

Whilst our brains are wired to pick up on threats, it IS possible to challenge negative anxious thoughts and re-frame them into more balanced ones. Here are some questions to ask yourself if those negative thoughts come knocking on your door:

1. Am I mistaking a thought for a fact?

One of the most useful phrases I heard was "Thoughts are not facts". This is so true, yet we often believe thoughts as readily as if the evidence had been physically placed in front of us.

What evidence do you have for your negative thought? Is it based on fact or something you 'believe' to be true? If it's the latter, then you're probably giving too much weight to something which may not even be true.

2. Am I jumping to conclusions?

Are you assuming something about someone or a given situation?

 Jumping to conclusions can come from us basing what we think on poor evidence, or 'beliefs'. For example, you might think certain people are talking about you, but where is the evidence? Unless you know for sure, you cannot know.

3. Am I assuming that my view is the only one possible?

Would you have viewed the situation differently a few months' ago when you were perhaps feeling better? Our frame of mind at any given time can really impact upon the way we perceive a situation.

How do you think would someone else view the same situation? Why not ask them?

not letting anxious thoughts get to you

4. Do my negative thoughts help me?

Be realistic and assess whether your thoughts are helping you or getting in your way. What impact are they having on your life? Are they getting in the way of things like relationships or work?

If they're doing more harm than good, then it's time to challenge them.

5. What are the pros and cons of thinking this way?

As odd as it sounds, there might be some benefits (albeit in the short-term) to thinking negatively. For example, perhaps you're worried about being hurt in relationships and while negative thinking might keep people at arm's length it also protects you.

However, ask yourself whether the advantages outweigh the disadvantages? In the long-term, would your negative thinking stop you from forming potentially positive relationships with others?

6. Am I asking questions that I cannot answer?

It can be hard to accept when the past can't be undone. It's natural to wish that certain events hadn't happened, but tying yourself up in mental knots when the situation cannot be changed will only have a negative impact on your well-being.

If you can get the answers to your questions then that's great, but take the time to recognise when it's time to walk away and let go of those questions in order to look after yourself.

We hope you've found these suggestions for how to challenge negative thoughts helpful.

Do you have any other ideas for how you can deal with them? Let us know in the comments.


How ‘Should’ I Feel After A Bereavement?

Blog banner How should I feel after a bereavement

As cliched as it may sound bereavement is a part of life, a logical "bookend" to birth; however, this doesn't make it any easier to cope with. We've been privileged to work with individuals who've experienced bereavement in all sorts of circumstances such as sudden death, terminal illness, and miscarriage.

Bereavement or "loss" can come in many forms, and not just of a person or much-loved pet. We may be made redundant from our job or we may experience a relationship/marriage break down. Some losses may not be as obvious; moving house, whilst being the start of a new chapter, may also mean moving to an entirely new area and saying goodbye to good friends. For the purposes of this post, we're going to focus on loss in relation to the death of someone we know.

What feelings might I experience after a bereavement?

You'll no doubt experience a range of different emotions after the death. Here are some common ones which you may/may not feel:

  • Sadness because the person is no longer around;
  • Relief, perhaps due to the person having been ill for a long period of time;
  • Guilt at feeling relieved, or perhaps you said/did something that you regretted and it's not possible to "make things right";
  • Anger towards the person who has died, as they might have hurt you in some way;
  • Disbelief, as it may be hard to accept what has happened.

You might have heard that we go through 'stages of grief', moving through different feelings at different points in time. However, we personally don't believe there's a blueprint for how we'll feel during the grieving process.

You may feel sad in the morning and relief by the afternoon, or you might not feel any of these things. The bottom line is that you will feel whatever you feel, on any given day, at any given moment, and that is okay.

The best advice we can give is not to place any expectations on how you think you should feel. Allow yourself to feel whatever emotions come up. The more you try to fight or deny them, the worse you'll feel.

coping with bereavement

Time is a healer

It's another cliche, but we feel it's relevant. In our experience, and that of people we've worked with, the pain of someone dying is not as raw on day 100 as it is on day 1. This doesn't mean that the person no longer means as much to you, it just reflects that you've had more time to process what's happened and integrate their absence into your life.

Someone we know once said: "You don't ever get over when someone dies; you just get used to them not being around". Certainly, the impact of death can send ripples which extend into the future, like the person not being around for milestone events such as marriage or graduation. However, time can help us adjust to the person no longer being here.

So if you're experiencing grief, please be kind to yourself. Don't place 'shoulds' or 'oughts' on how you think/feel, and take each day as it comes.

If you feel you may benefit from Counselling then please contact us.

4 Self-Care Strategies For Better Mental Wellbeing

Blog banner 4 Self-Care Strategies For Better Mental Wellbeing

We tend to put other people's needs and wants first, but we rarely seem to find the time to look after our own. Life can be stressful, so it's important that we use self-care for better mental wellbeing.

So, what sorts of things can we do to show ourselves a bit of self-care?

1. Learn to say "no"

This is probably one of the hardest things for people to do. Do you find that you say "yes" to things when you really don't want to? Why do you think you say "yes"? Is it to please people? Is it for fear of offending them?

The problem with constantly saying "yes", is that we end up putting off the things we really want to do. We end up neglecting ourselves and our needs, just to please others.

Try to be more selective in who/what you say "yes" to. If someone isn't happy that you've said "no", then they'll no doubt find someone else who'll help them out. The bottom line is, if you're a serial "yes" person then it might be time to use the word "no" more often so that you have more time to focus on the things that are important to you.

2. Make sure you have supportive people around you

Unfortunately, there are people in this world that love nothing more than to drag others down. Perhaps they cannot congratulate other people on their achievements as they end up questioning their own. Maybe seeing other people happy highlights to them how unhappy they are.

Whatever is going on for these people is their issue, and something they'll need to look inside of themselves to resolve. Be proud of your achievements, don't let others put you down. If you find that certain people add nothing positive to your life it might be time to surround yourself with people who are "in your corner".

taking care of yourself

3. Don't take on too much

Perhaps you're the sort of person who likes to be busy, but at what point do you say "enough is enough"?

As much as you might like to get your teeth into new projects, don't rush in. Take your time to decide whether you have the capacity to add to your workload. This might not necessarily relate to your job, but to things in your personal life (e.g., decorating the house, a new volunteering role). Be realistic about the time you can give and don't over-stretch yourself!

4. Make time for yourself

Even if it's 30 minutes a day, make some time for you! It might consist of having a relaxing bath, reading a book, or lighting some candles and putting on some chilled out music. Perhaps you like meditation, or yoga? Maybe you like dancing round the living room to your favourite band, or playing your favourite computer game. Whatever you do for those precious minutes each day, do whatever works for you.

Just remember, if you're not looking after yourself then you'll be in less of a good place to help those around you. When it comes to your mental wellbeing, it really is best to start with yourself because then everyone else around you will benefit.

How do you look after your mental wellbeing? Let us know in the comments!

Watch our video on self-care strategies