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How to recognize unhealthy thinking:

           We are all guilty of it. Lying in bed, staring at the clock, thinking ourselves into a panic over everything we think we’ve ever said wrong to someone. As horrible as this feels in the moment, it is far worse for us and our mental health long term. Cycling unhealthy thoughts through our head over and over can be incredibly destructive and paralyze us far more than we realize. I sat down with the professionals at Barrington Clinical Services to learn some ways to cope with unhealthy thought patterns and how to change our thinking to be more positive.

           I spoke with leading local adolescent and general adult psychiatrist, Nausheen Din, to get some tips managing unhealthy patterns of thought. “Journaling is really important to help get all of you feelings out before you can examine them.” Once written out he first step is to realize something that triggers you to become upset or unmotivated. This can be as simple as not feeling organized in your planner, to as overwhelming as a fall-out with a friend. “Realizing when we become upset and what the cause of that hurt is is the first step to changing our thinking about it.”

           “Next, it is important to address how those thoughts are making us feel, both physically and mentally,” and write those feelings out. Check out this list of feelings and bodily sensations to help you better put into words what you may be feeling inside.

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           “From our physical feelings about the trigger, we then need to look at and address the behavior caused by the trigger and recognize the consequences of the behavior,” Din said.

This means taking sometime to really reflect on your day and try to become a little bit more self-aware. We need to access how we act when were upset, and realize the direct consequence caused by that.

“It is really helpful to break down our actions into these three categories of thinking, feeling and acting because it lets us look for opportunity to change along every step of the way,” Din said.

           Lastly, it is time to rethink every step positively.

“If you are journaling this process, it may help to write out your thoughts feelings and behaviors on one side of the page, and mirror the other side of the page how you can make each of those steps more positive and self-loving,” Din said.

Imagine that you are giving advice to a friend, and treat yourself like a friend. Looking at your struggles laid out, it can put a lot into perspective, and help us stop overthinking.

           While this feels like somewhat a basic process, it can be applicable in all situations. It is important to reflect and work towards self-improvement when it comes to our mental health and well-being, but sometimes it is hard to know exactly where to start and how to begin to make a change.


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Sophomore at Loyola University Chicago
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