How to Reframe Your Thoughts and Improve Your Mental Wellbeing

Feeling worried or stressed is a natural part of life, but sometimes our thoughts can become unhelpful and negatively impact our mental health. The good news is that we have the power to challenge and reframe these thoughts, leading to improved mental wellbeing. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore effective strategies for reframing thoughts, examining the evidence, and promoting positive reappraisal. By implementing these techniques, you can gain control over your thoughts, reduce stress and anxiety, and foster a healthier mindset.

The Cycle of Unhelpful Thoughts

Our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are interconnected, influencing one another in a continuous cycle. However, sometimes we develop patterns of unhelpful thoughts or behaviors that can trap us in a negative spiral. The first step towards breaking this cycle is to recognize that we have the ability to influence our own thought process and improve our mental health. By challenging and replacing unhelpful thoughts, we can effectively manage stress, anxiety, and enhance our overall mood.

Identifying Unhelpful Thought Patterns

To reframe your thoughts, it’s essential to become aware of the specific types of unhelpful thoughts that may be affecting you. By recognizing these patterns, you will be better equipped to catch and challenge them. Some common unhelpful thought patterns include:

  1. Catastrophizing: Always expecting the worst outcome from any situation.
  2. Black and white thinking: Seeing things as either solely good or solely bad, with no middle ground.
  3. Ignoring the positive: Focusing only on the negatives in a situation and neglecting to acknowledge any positive aspects.
  4. Personalization: Believing that you are solely responsible for negative situations or outcomes.

Catch it, Check it, Change it: The Reframing Technique

The “catch it, check it, change it” technique is a powerful tool for challenging and reframing unhelpful thoughts. By following these steps, you can gradually transform negative thinking patterns into more positive and realistic ones.

  • Know what to look for: Familiarize yourself with the common types of unhelpful thoughts we discussed earlier. Being aware of these patterns will make it easier to spot them when they arise.
  • Practise catching them: As you go about your day, pay attention to your thoughts and try to identify any unhelpful patterns. Initially, this may feel challenging, but with practice, you will become more attuned to your own thinking process.
  • Check your unhelpful thoughts: Once you have caught an unhelpful thought, take a step back and examine the evidence for it. Ask yourself questions such as:
  • How likely is the outcome I’m worried about?
  • Is there solid evidence to support my negative interpretation?
  • Are there alternative explanations or possible outcomes?
  • What would I say to a friend if they were thinking this way?
  • Change them: After evaluating your unhelpful thought and challenging its validity, try to reframe it into a more neutral or positive perspective. Consider the evidence you gathered during the checking stage and rephrase your thought accordingly. For example, if you’re worried about an important task at work, you could reframe it as, “I’ve prepared and put in a lot of effort. I’m capable of doing my best.”
  • Use a thought record: If you find the reframing process challenging, a thought record can provide structured guidance. This exercise involves using prompts to examine the evidence for your thoughts and feelings towards a situation. It helps you gain clarity and develop more balanced perspectives.

Additional Strategies for Reframing Thoughts

While the “catch it, check it, change it” technique is a valuable approach, there are other strategies you can employ to reframe your thoughts effectively. These include:

  1. Remember, thoughts aren’t facts: Understand that your thoughts are not always accurate reflections of reality. They are subjective interpretations influenced by your emotions and beliefs.
  2. Identify extreme language: Pay attention to extreme language in your thoughts, such as “always” or “never.” Replace these words with more moderate terms to create a more balanced view.
  3. Question assumptions and biases: Challenge the assumptions or biases that contribute to your interpretation of a situation. Consider alternative perspectives and explore different angles.
  4. Take on someone else’s perspective: Imagine how a friend or loved one would interpret the situation. This exercise can provide fresh insights and help you see things from a different angle.

Positive Reframing and Examining the Evidence

Two types of reappraisal that are particularly effective in reframing thoughts are positive reframing and examining the evidence. Let’s explore each approach in more detail:

Positive Reframing

Positive reframing involves looking at a negative or challenging situation in a more positive light. It allows you to identify benefits, lessons, or opportunities that may have been overlooked. By finding something to be grateful for or focusing on the positive aspects of a situation, you can shift your perspective and improve your overall outlook. For example, after a breakup, you could reframe the situation by considering the chance to meet new people, the lessons learned from the relationship, and the gratitude for the time spent with your former partner.

Examining the Evidence

Examining the evidence involves critically evaluating the validity of your interpretations. It requires weighing the evidence for your thoughts and challenging any assumptions you may have made. By considering the likelihood of negative outcomes, past experiences, and your ability to handle potential challenges, you can gain a more realistic perspective. For instance, if you performed poorly on an assignment and worry about its impact on your GPA, you can examine the evidence by reflecting on past assignments where you excelled, the likelihood of improvement in future assignments, and your resilience in handling setbacks.

Practice and Persistence

Reframing your thoughts is a skill that requires practice and persistence. It’s important to remember that the first attempt at reframing may not always stick, and that’s okay. Flexibility in thinking and exploring multiple interpretations is key. By consistently challenging unhelpful thoughts and embracing alternative perspectives, you can develop a more resilient and positive mindset.


Reframing your thoughts is a powerful tool for improving your mental wellbeing. By recognizing and challenging unhelpful thought patterns, you can gain control over your thinking process. The “catch it, check it, change it” technique, along with positive reframing and examining the evidence, provide practical strategies to reframe your thoughts effectively. Remember to be patient with yourself, as this process takes time and practice. With persistence, you can cultivate a healthier mindset, reduce stress, and enhance your overall mental wellbeing.


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