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Overcoming negative thoughts – tips for positive thinking

Living with MS can take its toll on your emotions. The symptoms are changeable, so it’s only natural that negative thoughts will pop up every so often. You may not be sure what challenges you’ll be facing from one day to the next, but you can develop ways to handle them. We’ve looked into some ways to help you do just that.

Surround yourself with loved ones

It’s easy to feel negative when you’re not discussing your thoughts with someone else. By talking about your concerns with a loved one, you may be able to ease the burden on yourself and gain some distance from your feelings.

We also have an MS Society forum and support groups about living with MS. Or you can ring our Helpline on 0808 800 8000 Monday to Friday between 9am and 9pm.

Keep a mood diary

Keeping a diary of your feelings can be another way to help you manage your thoughts.

Clinical neuropsychologist Dr Annie Hickox recommends that you write down the time of day, your thought and how it made you feel:

“You may find that the same negative thoughts go through your mind day in and day out. Once you have kept a diary for a few days, try to find a more helpful way of thinking about the situation, e.g. "I'll have a 20 minute nap after lunch every day, then I will have more energy for cooking". If you are saying the word ‘should’ to yourself, drop it and say something like, "I would like…or I can…" Self-criticism is a major factor in low mood.

“Ups and downs are a normal part of life, but these strategies can help you to catch them early and turn them around.”

Jot down positive thoughts

Writing a list of positive thoughts can help to lift your mood. You can include anything that you want, from inspirational quotes to happy memories. Consult this list to give you a boost when you’re feeling low or overwhelmed.

Why not note down your favourite hobbies? Or perhaps an achievement that made you proud? Whatever you include, make sure it’s a list that reflects what makes you happy.


Mindfulness is an ancient practice of awareness. It uses different breathing and meditation techniques to help you become aware of your feelings, so that you can manage them. It can also help to relieve anxiety and wellbeing.

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, which includes elements of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, is even recommended by the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence.

> Find out more about mental health and MS