Skip to Content
Home > Wellness > Health Library > Stop Negative Thoughts: Getting Started
Unwanted thoughts can make
you feel anxious or depressed. They may keep you from enjoying your
A technique called thought-stopping can help you stop
To stop unwanted
thoughts, you focus on the thought and then learn to say "Stop" to end the
thought. At first, you will shout "Stop!" out loud. Then you will learn to say
it in your mind so that you can use this technique anywhere. Here's how to get
You can change how you
This new image or idea is not the same thing as
replacing a negative thought with a helpful thought that is related to it. For
more information on that method, see the topic
Stop Negative Thoughts: Choosing a Healthier Way of Thinking.
Here's an example of
how thought-stopping might work:
You're worried about a
presentation you are giving at work later in the day. You're prepared. You know
you're ready. But you can't stop worrying about it. You imagine making a
When you start to think of yourself stumbling over
words, you say "Stop" quietly in your mind. You get up and move around, or you
snap your rubber band as you say "Stop." Then you think of something pleasant
to take your mind off the thought—such as a trip you are planning to take or a
movie you saw recently that made you laugh.
Other Works Consulted
Hart SL, Hart TA (2010). The future of cognitive behavioral interventions within behavioral medicine. Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy: An International Quarterly, 24(4): 344–353.
Layous K et al. (2011). Delivering happiness: Translating positive psychology intervention research for treating major and minor depressive disorders. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 17(8): 675–683.
Lightsey OR, et al. (2012). Can positive thinking reduce negative affect? A test of potential mediating mechanisms. Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy: An International Quarterly, 26(1): 71–88.
McKay M, et al. (2011). Changing patterns of limited thinking. In Thoughts and Feelings: Taking Control of Your Moods and Your Life, 4th ed., pp. 27–45. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger.
McKay M, et al. (2011). Coping with panic. In Thoughts and Feelings: Taking Control of Your Moods and Your Life, 4th ed., pp. 85–104. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger.
McKay M, et al. (2011). Uncovering automatic thoughts. In Thoughts and Feelings: Taking Control of Your Moods and Your Life, 4th ed., pp. 15–25. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger.
Newman CF, Beck AT (2009). Cognitive therapy. In BJ Sadock et al., eds., Kaplan and Sadock's Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry, 9th ed., vol 2., pp. 2857–2873. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerCatherine D. Serio, PhD - Behavioral HealthKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerSue Barton, PhD, PsyD - Behavioral Health
Current as ofNovember 20, 2015
Current as of:
November 20, 2015
Catherine D. Serio, PhD - Behavioral Health & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Sue Barton, PhD, PsyD - Behavioral Health
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2016 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
I Want To...
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.