9 Tips to Clear Your Mind of Bad Thoughts

It's important to clear your mind of bad thoughts to prevent them from influencing your health and mood. Learn more here.
9 Tips to Clear Your Mind of Bad Thoughts
Maria Fatima Seppi Vinuales

Written and verified by the psychologist Maria Fatima Seppi Vinuales.

Last update: 06 December, 2022

We all have negative thoughts. Depending on our situation, we tend to be more or less concerned about certain issues. However, getting caught up in them has health consequences. So, let’s take a look at some tips for clearing your mind of bad thoughts.

The illness of a loved one, difficulties with studies, a bad relationship at work… The spectrum of situations that may cause bad thoughts is as varied as it is everyday. Having negative thoughts derived from these situations doesn’t make us better or worse people, but it can be an obstacle to our well-being.

Apply these 9 tips to clear your mind of bad thoughts and change your mood. Let’s get to it!

1. Identify the thoughts that cause you discomfort

We can’t work on what we’re not aware of, don’t accept, or downplay. By recognizing these ideas, we can then analyze them and detect if they have any common trait or denominator.

For example, do you think in black-and-white terms of yes/no or always/never? Do you think people do things to you? Do you tend to look only at the negative side of situations?

When we start looking for the basis of our thoughts, we can discover that many of them are biased and that they only make a cut of a larger reality. From there, it’s possible to think about making them more flexible and proposing multiple possible versions.

In psychotherapy, this is known as a cognitive restructuring technique. You can initiate it by your own action or ask for help from a professional.

clear your mind of bad thoughts
Negative thoughts affect our well-being. We’re in a worse mood when we give them too much space.

2. Do a deep cleaning of your thoughts

Reflect on the situation that afflicts you. How much really is reality and how much is fantasy and assumptions?

In the end, perhaps you manage to see that there are many hypotheses and fears that are a product of your imagination and that belong to the field of uncertainty. They’re not really based on something that’s actually going to happen.

Oftentimes, even when the feared situation happens or the event that worries us occurs, we realize that it was less serious than it seemed.

3. Learn to set your own boundaries

No matter how many times you think about a problem, you may not have the solution in your hands today. Even if you let your mind cool down and give it a break, you will see that you will be able to gain perspective and find another way to approach the issue.

Sometimes, it’s just a matter of accepting that you have to stop. Knowing how to give in and walk away from the problem is one way to find the solution.

4. Practice relaxation techniques

For example, you can try breathing exercises. Also, you can do this with stretching and progressive muscle relaxation.

Walks and walking outdoors can be a great option. All this helps to quiet our minds, to allow us to focus on the here and now, and to avoid getting caught up in the issues of the past or the problems of the future.

We think you may also enjoy reading this article: The Similarities and Differences between Philosophy and Psychology

5. Make pleasant and nice things happen to you during the day

It’s important that you make contact with pleasant moments on a daily basis: a hot coffee at the start of the day, enjoying a piece of chocolate, going for a walk. Setting aside time for leisure and recreation decreases stress, and helps your body to produce the hormones of pleasure and happiness.

6. Surround yourself with people who add to your positivity and don’t take away from it

It has happened to all of us that, after spending some time with someone, we feel like we’ve run out of energy. Many people tend to live in a negative and unhealthy way, always complaining and being part of the problem and avoiding the possible solutions.

There are some reasons that sometimes justify this, but attitude makes a big difference in our day to day lives. That’s why it’s important to spend time with people who have good times and bad times, but who don’t make the bad the only and absolute thing they focus on in their lives.

7. Prepare a list of cards or visual cues

Another way to clear your mind of bad thoughts is to use visual resources to help you put a stop to the flood of thoughts. For example, after identifying the disturbing thoughts, you can write down alternative versions of them.

In this way, you distract your brain from focusing on the known bad thought. Let’s take a look at an example. For instance, someone who fears being robbed when leaving the house might write “there will be people out on the street who can offer help,” or “I have been out on numerous occasions, and on most of them, nothing bad has happened to me.”

Like this article? You may also like to read: The Main Psychological Effects of Multitasking and How to Avoid Them

8. Reinforce your positive thoughts and experiences

If you have a fear of public speaking and you were able to successfully speak in public at some point, acknowledge the accomplishment to yourself. Think about it and the positive emotions you felt. Connect with that experience of overcoming your fear.

In this way, you familiarize your neural connections with a pleasurable experience. Where before there was fear, worry, and paralysis, now there’s courage and happiness.

9. Turn to some “wildcard” memories

When you feel yourself starting to get into a negative loop, a fond memory can work to free your mind of bad thoughts. For example, think about a family vacation at the beach, the first time your pet came home, etc.

Connect with your senses around that experience and all the emotions that came up. In this way, you will have successfully distracted your brain.

Over time, it’s important to focus on possible memories so they don’t lose their power.

happy memories to clear your mind
Turn to good memories to displace negative thoughts and not give them space in your mind. 

Clearing your mind of bad thoughts is about taking care of your health

Much of our discomfort and many diseases come from giving so much power to bad thoughts: anxiety, depression, and stress are some of the major issues, among others.

It’s not about promoting false optimism, but about not dwelling too much on our misfortunes. Much less does it imply turning a blind eye and denying our thoughts by letting them accumulate and then exploding.

On the contrary, it means facing them, having a health dialogue with them, and making room for the understanding that they’re just that: thoughts. We are not our thoughts, nor are our thoughts our reality.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • MELIPILLÁN, R., Rincón, P., & SOLAR, F. C. (2007). Rumiación y presencia de sintomatología ansiosa y depresiva en adolescentes. Revista Mexicana de Psicología24(2), 175-183.
  • Cova, F., Rincón, P., & Melipillán, R. (2009). Reflexión, rumiación negativa y desarrollo de sintomatología depresiva en adolescentes de sexo femenino. Terapia psicológica27(2), 155-160.
  • Bados López, A., & García Grau, E. (2010). La Técnica de la reestructuración cognitiva.
  • Estévez, A. M., & Calvete, E. (2009). Mediación a través de pensamientos automáticos de la relación entre esquemas y síntomas de depresión. Anales de Psicología/Annals of Psychology25(1), 27-35.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.